Q&A April 2013

A couple of questions were answered at the SEAL meeting this month:

  • How do I deal with the Pages message “Import warning: An unsupported field wasn’t imported.” when opening a form in Microsoft Word (.doc) format?
  • How can I type symbols and accented characters which aren’t shown on the keyboard?
    Q. How do I deal with the Pages message “Import warning: An unsupported field wasn’t imported.” when opening a form in Microsoft Word (.doc) format?

A. Fields in a Microsoft Word are elements that can be inserted into a pre-written document that contain information that will change. One class of fields are form fields, they allow a user to fill in information without changing the pre-written document. There are different types of form field such as text, tick boxes and drop-down selections.

Apple’s Pages word processor doesn’t support form fields. When you import a Word document which has them into Pages it warns you that these fields could not be imported with the message: “Import warning: An unsupported field wasn’t imported.”

In most cases you can still go ahead and fill in the form using Pages, the design of the form will make it clear where you should enter your answers. If there’s a place where you need to enter a tick, see the question below for how to do so.

If it’s not clear how to fill in the form or you think there might be options you are missing a free alternative is to use Open Office to open the form. Open Office is an open source suite of office applications which is available for the Mac. Open Office Writer, its word processor, does support form fields in Word documents.

Q. How can I type symbols and accented characters which aren’t shown on the keyboard?

A. A variety of key combinations can be used to type many common symbols and accented characters on the Mac. The easiest way to see what options are available is to enable to Keyboard Viewer. To do this:

  1. Open System Preferences and choose Language & Text.
  2. Select the Input Sources tab.
  3. In the Select input sources to use list, make sure Keyboard & Character Viewer (at the top) is ticked.
  4. Make sure Show Input menu in menu bar is ticked.
  5. Close System Preferences.
    You should now have a new icon on the menu bar with options to show the Character and Keyboard viewers.

Open the keyboard viewer window and try holding down the different modifier keys (Shift, Control and Option) on your keyboard to see the symbols you can type. Remember that you can use combinations of modifier keys such as Shift and Option together.

As an example, if you want to type a tick symbol you’ll see that if you hold down the Option key, a tick appears in the v position on the keyboard. So to type a tick, simple press Option+v. Try holding down Shift and Option and look at the k position, you’ll see an Apple logo. To type that at any time you need it just press Shift+Option+k.

You may notice that when you hold down the Option key some of the symbols are highlighted in orange. This indicates that those combinations initiate typing an accent. For example Option+U shows an orange highlighted umlaut symbol (two dots above the letter). To type an accented character press the key combination for the accent you want, release the keys and then type the letter you want the accent applied to. For example, to type ö, press Option+u and then type o.

On Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) and later, there is an alternative method of typing accented characters by holding down the letter you want to add the accent to. This opens a pop-up showing the available accents which can be selected by typing the associated number.

These keyboard shortcuts work in almost every Mac application.