I am writing math problems on my iMac and I am using TextEdit. I need to add exponents to one of my problems. How can I do that?

2 Answers 2


You can superscript style any text by highlighting the text and then selecting Format -> Font -> Baseline -> Superscript from the menu in TextEdit.

It's not assigned to a keyboard shortcut by default. To assign it to a keyboard shortcut go to System Preferences -> Keyboard and click on the Keyboard Shortcuts tab. Select Application Shortcuts from the left hand list and press the + button button below the right hand list to add a new application-specific shortcut:

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From the menu that pops up select TextEdit as the application (otherwise the shortcut will be made for all applications). For Menu Title enter Format->Font->Baseline->Superscript and for Keyboard Shortcut (assuming OS X 10.8 or higher). Put your cursor in the box and press the combination of keys you want to use for the shortcut (I used Cmd+Shift+= in my screen capture example):

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Press Add button to store the shortcut. You might have to restart TextEdit for the shortcut to appear.

  • Thanks! Will this work on all word-processing software? Aug 24, 2013 at 19:44
  • It's application specific.
    – Ian C.
    Aug 25, 2013 at 7:36

Modify the Press & Hold keys

For entering numbers in superscript (exponents), I prefer the Press & Hold method since it works in any app regardless of whether the app supports it (e.g. plain-text editors).

  1. Navigate to System/Library/Input Methods/PressAndHold.app/Contents/Resources/.

  2. Backup the Keyboard-en.plist file.

  3. Append the following to the Keyboard-en.plist file (before the closing </dict></plist>).

        <string>t ¹ ² ³ ⁴ ⁵ ⁶ ⁷ ⁸ ⁹ ⁰</string>
        <string>t ¹ ² ³ ⁴ ⁵ ⁶ ⁷ ⁸ ⁹ ⁰</string>

Feel free to change the Roman-Accent-t to any character you wish, providing it does not already have Press & Hold keys assigned.

  • One disadvantage of this method is that it may not look good with all fonts and you are limited to the characters you have put into the .plist. Exponents can have things other than numbers in them. Aug 25, 2013 at 10:14
  • Another disadvantage is that you have to disable SIP to do it. And a third is that Software Update will remove your changes. (Also, it seems that Apple has changed the path to the file at least three times and changed the format from XML to binary.
    – WGroleau
    Dec 13, 2022 at 18:19

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