in Mac apps, mac os, tip, writing

DevonThink’s Free WordService & line endings

Here’s a tip for working with text on your Mac. Have you ever needed to copy over the text of an email from, say, Apple Mail to another application (like your blog?). I need to do this all the time.

Here’s the problem. Sometimes I use my lunch break at work to begin typing out a post for this blog (using Microsoft Outlook — I use Windows at work). I then send this Outlook email home. Later that night, I fire up Apple Mail, copy the text of the email, and then paste the text into MarsEdit to form a starting point for a new post.

The problem is that the email text is riddled with annoying line endings. It doesn’t wrap correctly.
Here’s an example from an earlier post to illustrate the point. I typed up the following text in Outlook and then sent it to Apple Mail several weeks ago. When I cut and paste this text, it looks like this:

A friend wrote me last night to ask if I had tried ‘Things’ from
Cultured Code. I have, and this is one of the GTD-based task management
applications I will review in the coming weeks.

So far, I’ve written
about iGTD and OmniFocus, both excellent applications. The ‘Getting
Things Done’ task manager series is taking more time
than I anticipated,
mainly because it takes a while to really grasp each of these
applications.

As you can see, the line endings make this block of text look awful. I want the text to wrap naturally so it fits the width of whatever box I place it in. I want it to look like this:

A friend wrote me last night to ask if I had tried ‘Things’ from Cultured Code. I have, and this is one of the GTD-based task management applications I will review in the coming weeks.

So far, I’ve written about iGTD and OmniFocus, both excellent applications. The ‘Getting Things Done’ task manager series is taking more time than I anticipated, mainly because it takes a while to really grasp each of these applications.

I won’t get into the technical reasons behind this formatting problem. Instead, I’ll just show you how to fix it quickly and easily. I trim my line endings with ease using DevonThink’s free WordService tool. Download this tiny package, copy the folder over to your Services folder (User Account>Library>Services) and you’re in business.

All you need to do is select the text after you paste it into the app of your choice, select ‘Format’ from your Services menu, and then select ‘Reformat.’ There it is.

All line endings are removed — and your paragraph structure stays in tact. This is just one of 34 handy tools included in the WordService package. Give it a try (be sure to peruse the included ‘ReadMe’ text to get a feel for what the different tools do).

Many of the applications you use on your Mac include Services options. Most of them are worth checking out. The nice thing about this Apple tool is that you can invoke an application’s ‘service’ tools even if that application isn’t open. For example, suppose you’re surfing the web and you find some text or a URL you want to add to Yojimbo, an application I like to use for storing and organizing notes. Simply select some text or a URL, then choose Yojimbo’s Import option from the Services menu. Presto, Yojimbo launches and the new text or URL is instantly added.

Services, by the way, is mainly designed as a way to work with selections of text. If you want to see a couple of the more interesting things you can do with it, select a bunch of text and try out the ‘summarize‘ and ‘speech‘ tools. I’m a big Services fan. It’s probably one of the least used tools on Mac OS X — and it can be quite useful.

  1. It isn’t free, but http://unmarked.com“ rel=”nofollow”>TextSoap is far superior for a large variety of this kind of task. The contextual menu in the Deluxe version has become a standby for me.

    The ability to define regex-based custom cleaners isn’t to be sneezed at, either. I use TextSoap a lot for a number of web related tasks, such as converting rich text to HTML, cleaning up malformed HTML into XHTML, etc. Amazingly useful tool.

  2. I’ve heard of TextSoap but never tried it. Thanks for the great tip — I’m downloading the trial now! By the way, I enjoy reading http://tagamac.com/“ title=”Tagamac” rel=”nofollow”>Tagamac and just discovered http://beckism.com/“ title=”Beckism.com” rel=”nofollow”>your other site. I, too, enjoy creative writing and aspire to earn a living wage writing someday (which I gleaned from your site). I’m eager to delve into reviews of Mac writing apps soon. I think I’ll start with Scrivener vs Copywrite.

  3. TextSoap is one of those apps whose usefulness was not immediately apparent to me. Then I started to use it. I need to remember to post my library of custom cleaners for download sometime. They’d probably be useful for other people, too.

    As far as creative writing apps, you’d probably be better off doing Scrivener vs. StoryMill (nee Avenir). Although I’m completely biased (I’ve been beta testing and hanging out with the StoryMill crowd for some time), my impression is that Scrivener is by far the most popular of these apps, followed by StoryMill, and then CopyWrite, Jer’s, etc.

    And I’ll leave it at that. If the Scrivener forums were online, I’d link to my comparison of the two (I don’t want to clutter up your comments with unrelated blathering), but they’re not. Oh well.

    Glad you enjoy Tagamac! Here’s to the both of us somehow making it in this cruel world as authors! 😀

Comments are closed.