How do you control the margins in TextEdit?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by gastroboy, Dec 13, 2004.

  1. gastroboy macrumors newbie

    Oct 31, 2004
    How do you control the margins in TextEdit?

    I am trying to create a manual which includes some screen snaps which fit on A4 paper, but TextEdit persistently has fat margins and won't print the images that are wider than width allowed by the margins.

    The screen grabs appear on screen but when I print the document the wider images do not print although they leave a gap in the text equal to their height.

    I have:

    Adjusted the preferences:

    • for window width which is in No of Characters (how wide is a character when you are using rtf?)

    • checked Wrap to window which shows a page view but the margins don't change

    • I have created an entire new page in Page Setup with fixed margins and selected it but nothing changes

    Mac Help says the margins can be altered by dragging the page margin markers in the ruler, but they will not drag outside what seems to be the default margins, This wouldn't help with top and bottom margins anyway.

    I have tried using Acrobat PDF as the printer but again I get no further options and nothing changes.

    I am at my wits end. TextEdit is almost temptingly useful except for the weird UI.

    Anyone have a clue how this sucker works
  2. Sayer macrumors 6502a


    Jan 4, 2002
    Austin, TX
    TextEdit is not a Word Processor or a Page Layout Program. That is the the long and short of it.

    You simply cannot make the printed margins smaller than I believe .5". It just won't happen. No matter what you set the margins it will always print down to that size.

    Try a different program, one meant to have lots of custom formatting options.

    One thing I found quite usable is to make a formatted document in AppleWorks (Classic Mac OS for me) and "print" to a PostScript file (.ps) which I open in Preview and save to a PDF. All the formatting remains and the margins are whatever I want them to be and I have a PDF file.
  3. gastroboy thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 31, 2004
    Crikes Sayer, you are going around the long way round to make a pdf! Why not just print it directly?

    I am well aware of AppleWorks, but for what I am doing it is even clumsier and makes a worse fist of it than TextEdit. Not to mention the font spacing problems in OSX. Like many people I am wondering why Apple has left AW to swing, we desperately need a replacement.

    btw The margin in TextEdit is more like 23mm or 7/8 inch which is ridiculous and I don't know where it is getting it from.
  4. mvc macrumors 6502a


    Jul 11, 2003
    Yeah, it's rubbish, I know, but you're stuck with it until Apple decides to add more new features to Textedit.

    Textedit could be a lot better, and ironically its even more noticable now that its started to add a few features. But it's never going to be Appleworks.

    At least it's much better than SimpleText was ;-)
  5. superbovine macrumors 68030


    Nov 7, 2003
    The purpose of text edit wasn't to print formated files. They won't add the feature because the software isn't intended to be used that way.

  6. gastroboy thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 31, 2004
    It's pretty darn close. Those few missing bits are the killer though. Probably styles is the biggest missing feature, but some of the odd formatting like back of text hi-light colors actually exist with nothing showing how to achieve them in the menus.

    Apple typically suggests TextEdit is a virtual replacement for most Office/Word-Processors without actually making this true. But I giess Microsoft is holding a gun at Apple's head.
  7. wordmunger macrumors 603


    Sep 3, 2003
    North Carolina
    Page numbering/headers and footers is probably the killer, but I'd like a little more control over text layout as well. Forcing new pages, borders, etc. would be nice. But then you're almost talking about a serious word processor.
  8. Chad Woodburn macrumors newbie

    Dec 22, 2004
    Changing margins a piece of cake!

    In TextEdit is is reasonably easy to change the margins to nearly anything you want-- down to the very edge of the paper. The other people who responded to your question who said it couldn't be done, just don't realize how easy it is.

    First, open the file viewing the RTF codes
    • Open TextEdit.
    • Do a Command-O and look at the Open dialog box.
    • Select the file whose margins you want to change.
    • Check the "Ignore Rich Text Commands" option box.
    • Click "Okay".

    Second, change the margins RTF codes
    • In the header of the document you will see a line that specifies the margins. This line will probably being this way: "\margl1440". The "marg" refers to "margin", and the letters that follow it stand for the margin sides: "l" = left, "r" = right, "t" = top, "b" = bottom. I believe that 1440 equals 1 inch. So, 20 equals one pixel on a 72 dpi screen.
    • Change the numbers to your liking.
    • Reopen the document (without checking the "Ignore Rich Text Commands") and "presto": you've got your margins changed. Piece of cake.
  9. gastroboy thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 31, 2004
    I wouldn't call that "easy". It really doesn't address the issue anyway as you'd have to carry around your own personal version of TextEdit and update it with each installation etc.

    The way TextEdit and many iLife programs work seems to be arse about face anyway. Settings must be set before changes for instance and do not apply to what you are looking at, styles that appear in documents but have no implementation method etc. Bizarrely non-Mac behaviour.

    We'll have to wait and see what "Pages" in iOffice will look like. My bet is Apple will get bored with it before it fixes all the flaws. Just like it does with everything else.

    If you have the time I'll take you on a tour of my Abandoned Apple Apps (AAA) museum.
  10. Penguin999 macrumors newbie

    Jun 6, 2008
    Consider using Stickies instead - smaller margins and other nice features

    I had the same problem with text edit margins, but then I realized by accident that Stickies gives me the smaller margin I want (yes, Stickies!). In fact, with Stickies, you automatically page numbers when you print your Stickie, along with many other benefits...

    It was a welcome surprise for me, especially since adjusting margins in textedit didn't work (and I tried all the simple, the relatively simple, methods mentioned here AND in other posts on other sites).
  11. MickG macrumors newbie


    Mar 14, 2006
    Santa Barbara, CA
    Old thread, still helpful!

    Chad, Just wanted to say thanks for this solution. It still works today and was exactly what I was looking for!

  12. michael7177 macrumors newbie

    Jan 14, 2010
    How to change TextEdit margins?

    I only have left and right margin code. (See below ) How do I change all four margins?
    TextEdit version 1.5 (244)
    Mac OS 10.5.8

    {\fonttbl\f0\fswiss\fcharset0 Helvetica;}
  13. pit29 macrumors 6502a


    May 23, 2006
    The Golden State
    I guess you can just put in another \margXYYY after the ones that are there...
  14. pubwvj macrumors 68000


    Oct 1, 2004
    Mountains of Vermont
    Make a template

    Create a RTF document containing:


    save this and then use it as a template with 1/2" margins all the way around. Adust the 720 as you need. 1440 = 1" so do the math.
  15. ckeilah macrumors newbie

    May 13, 2009
    Thanks y'all!! TextEdit is actually useful again, without all the massive overhead of a page layout program! :)

    However... top and bottom "margins" are still insanely large... like 1" when printed 2-up on an 8.5"x11" sheet! Sigh. So close....
  16. macsrwe macrumors newbie


    Jan 24, 2006
    No, the micro-editing is done to the document, not to the app.

    I end up having to use emacs for this, though, as TextEdit seems to be completely ignoring the "ignore rich text" checkbox. Nevertheless, it works and I am grateful, especially for the top and bottom margin control.
  17. justo216 macrumors newbie

    Apr 16, 2013
    Having trouble with this part

    having trouble with this part chad

    Second, change the margins RTF codes
    • In the header of the document you will see a line that specifies the margins. This line will probably being this way: "\margl1440". The "marg" refers to "margin", and the letters that follow it stand for the margin sides: "l" = left, "r" = right, "t" = top, "b" = bottom. I believe that 1440 equals 1 inch. So, 20 equals one pixel on a 72 dpi screen.
    • Change the numbers to your liking.
    • Reopen the document (without checking the "Ignore Rich Text Commands") and "presto": you've got your margins changed. Piece of cake.
  18. jrconrad macrumors newbie

    Aug 21, 2013
    Just Brilliant

    Setting up a template in TextEdit is just about the best thing I ever did. Thanks for all the suggestions. I did have to use BBEdit to edit the rtf header, but that was no big deal. Thanks!
  19. mikereilly100, May 13, 2014
    Last edited: May 13, 2014

    mikereilly100 macrumors newbie

    May 13, 2014
    no "okay" spot to click on as instructed?

    In response to the post on changing textedit margins, (techno peasant here), after opening the "open" dialogue box and checking the ignore rich text checkbox, it says "click okay", but I have no "okay" in my open dialogue box, I only have an "open" button. What am I missing?
    And when i open the actual document, I don't know what or where the "header of the document" is, and I don't see any lines that specify the margins. Again, what am I missing?
    ps - I created this document by copying and then pasting a document from another source into textedit.
  20. MiMobis, Sep 1, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2014

    MiMobis macrumors newbie

    Sep 1, 2014

    Folowing an article in VVMac magazine, I wrote in 2012 an utility for that convenience.
    It is obviously called "TextEditMargins" and works with simple Drag & Drop; and supports RTF files as well RTFD files having a minimum of TextEdit format.
    You will find the latest version Here. Enjoy it.
  21. mikelly3614 macrumors newbie


    Sep 29, 2015
    your app worked like a charm once I discovered what the numbers meant from pubwvj's contribution here: 1440 meaning a 2 inch margin on all sides as a TextEdit default. I reduced the margins down to 260 on all sides because my documents are mostly for screen view after conversion to PDF's so I'm not worried so much about printing. you can save the document as a template after that. Saving a Word document with small margins as an RTF file and adding a single image to it temporarily along with type formatting also makes for a great template if you have Word. but using Mssr. Morat's app is much faster than that.

    p.s., my heartfelt condolences on the horrific Parisian terrorist attacks, Mssr. Morat. I hope that none of your family or friends were hurt or worse if that is your home... and merci beaucoup for this!
  22. tdhurst macrumors 601


    Dec 27, 2003
    Phoenix, AZ
    TextEdit is a great word processor.

    You're trying to design something though. Pages is pretty cheap!
  23. DeltaMac macrumors G3


    Jul 30, 2003
    Notice that gastroboy has not been seen on this site for more than 10 years!
  24. mikelly3614 macrumors newbie


    Sep 29, 2015
    well, seven years anyways, DeltaMac, but I am mainly writing to let tdhurst know that I LOVE TextEdit for designing handouts for my students. I love dragging and dropping screenshots into it and then double-clicking to resize them in Preview after saving the doc, and then having them instantly update in TextEdit, or when only cropping is necessary just Copy/Pasting over the old image to avoid the document jumping to the first page. the really cool thing now, though, is being able to resize (without resampling) my images to 7.85 inches width instead of 6.5 as I had to before I finally got around to researching this issue and coming across MiMobis' excellent app and another suggestion for using Word to create a template. TextEdit ain't perfect, but I find it user friendly, easy to nicely fill a page with (easily tweaking the line spacing from 1 down to .5 when necessary to make everything fit as it should), and it Exports PDF's in a jiff. I don't mind working from a template because I often start off new handouts from a duplicate of the previous one anyway, keeping the same header and first page formatting and destroying the rest. for example, my current handout is number 15 in a series for a web design class, and they all follow the same first page format. I sometimes end up with over a hundred images in a TextEdit, and I only have to tweak the ones that are too wide or too long. the rest drop easily into place just waiting for the words to describe why they are there.
  25. sdrdesign, Dec 3, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2015

    sdrdesign macrumors newbie


    Dec 3, 2015
    San Francisco
    I have a related issue -- or dumb question: How do I compose some text in TextEdit that's wider than my screen ? To print 7 3/4" wide, my line needs to be 15 1/2" on the screen. If I zoom out, the image jumps down to about 50% -- too small to work on. What are my options ?

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