AMITIAE - Thursday 9 January 2014

Cassandra: Adding Rows and Columns Quickly in Apple's Numbers

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers


I am not much of one to use spreadsheets, although when it comes to student marks I do at least have to know my way around. When I first used Macs, there was Excel which in those days was comparatively simple. With the arrival of OS X, things moved on and I rather favour a Microsoft-free environment these days: because I can.

While I tend to prefer TextWrangler for basic writing tasks, with the occasional move up to Apple's TextEdit when I need some formatting (and sometimes even Pages when it has to look really smart), spreadsheets are a different matter. I did use Open Office, then NeoOffice, but lately have been just as happy with Numbers for my needs.

Numbers Long-time Mac users will be familiar with the rich number of keystrokes that enable a user to apply commands and effects in the Finder and many applications far quicker than using a mouse or trackpad. While entering student marks earlier today, I reminded myself of a couple of key commands that I find useful and I found a couple more.

The papers I was marking were in a random order, so I enter student ID numbers as the paper appears on my desk. That means I often run out of rows and need to add another. That is possible by using the Table menu. The first two commands there are Add Row Above, and Add Row Below.

Not shown in the menu are two alternative key commands: the Option key, plus the UP arrow will add a row above the position of the cursor; the Option key, plus the DOWN arrow will add a row below the position of the cursor [And as a disconnected note, these two key combinations can be used in Safari to scroll up and down].

The second pair of commands in that Table menu are Add Column Before, and Add Column After. Likewise, the Option key, plus the Left arrow will add a column before the position of the cursor (even in Column 1); the Option key, plus the Right arrow will add a column after the position of the cursor.

While I have not yet found a quick key combinaion to delete a column (the next menu command), by pressing the Control Key and pressing on the trackpad, a menu appears with several relevant commands, including Delete Column and Delete Row.

Remember also that Command + Z will undo a command.

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs.



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