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.