Saturday, March 09, 2013

Zero-Width Space

Since Buzzfeed picked up my post about stealth fanout on Twitter a few people have asked me how one can best produce a "zero-width space" on a Mac.

Here's how you do it.

On a Mac, pretty much any time you're typing text (including when you're composing a Tweet) you can hit ⌥⌘T to bring up the "Special Characters" window, and from here you can find (and use) pretty much any Unicode character out there. Try typing "zero width space" into the search field:

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and you'll find the elusive character… by definition it's kinda invisible. But you can add it to your favorite Special Characters, insert it into what you're typing directly from here, or copy it to the clipboard.

If you want to make it super-easy to use a zero-width space you can create a global text shortcut in the "Language and Text" area of the Mac's System Preferences. Here below I'm setting things up so that every time I type "zws" a zero-width space is inserted:

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Tuesday, March 05, 2013


My dad has heart failure. My mom has opinions on the matter.

A few weeks ago my dad posted one of the most beautiful and moving pieces I've ever read, about his own father.

My head spins, my heart trembles.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Stealth Fanout on Twitter

Sure, on Twitter you can use the ".@" convention to start a Tweet with a username but still have it delivered to all your followers. Like this:

Turns out, though, that instead of a "." you can use a zero-width space. It has the same effect—your Tweet is delivered to all of your followers—but the leading character is by its nature invisible:

A side effect which you may or may not enjoy is people's surprise: