How To Soup Up Your Mac's Left-Click With PopClip

When PopClip was first released for the Mac, it was a mostly cosmetic facelift to how copy and paste works. However, a recent update added support for extensions, and now it serves as a great addition to your workflow. Here's how to use it.

In the simplest terms, PopClip ($US4.99 with free trial) adds left-click actions to text. When you highlight a block of text, PopClip automatically pops up and offers you a few different actions you can do with the text. It looks a lot like the highlight function in iOS. If you're not a fan of keyboard shortcuts, this alone is a pretty handy little feature. However, what makes PopClip truly interesting is the extensions. With these installed, you can select a block of text and instantly send it over to your favourite to-do program, notes app, or even append that text to existing clipboard text.

Download, Install and Use Extensions

The crux of what makes PopClip interesting is the extensions, which let you send text to third-party apps. For example, if you're an Evernote user, you can select a block of text, select the "Evernote" function, and the text is immediately sent over to Evernote as a new note (the app launches if it's not already open).

The first step is to take a look at the extensions page to see what you want. Download the extensions you'll use, and then double-click them to load them into PopClip. It's simple, but the usage isn't always obvious. Here are a few I've found incredibly helpful:

  • Create a note in Notational Velocity: This one sends the text you select directly to Notational Velocity as a new file. It's especially helpful if you just need to quickly dump an idea when you're not already working in Notational Velocity, or if you're editing and need to cut a line but you want to save it elsewhere.
  • Swap: This swaps out the selected text with whatever you have on the clipboard. It's handy if you're the type to constantly move text around.
  • Convert Markdown to HTML: One simple click and any Markdown formatted text in any app is instantly converted to HTML. It's useful if you prefer Markdown but your CMS doesn't support it.

Extending PopClip's use doesn't end with extensions though. If you're not a fan of grabbing your mouse all the time and prefer to navigate text with the keyboard, you can make a keyboard shortcut for PopClip using Automator. It's also helpful to learn all the ways you can slightly change PopClip's behaviour with the Shift key (for example you can instantly copy a list of links on a page or do a simple match style when pasting).

If none of the available extensions suit your needs, you can make your own extensions out of your AppleScripts, URL schemes and more. You need a little technical understanding to make your own, but they're not as difficult as you would think. Some, like the Google Translate action are incredibly simple and easy to replicate.

Reorder Your Lists and Restrict Access

What makes PopClip useful isn't just the extensions, it's the fact that you get complete control over how it behaves. Once you download the extensions you'd like to try out, it's worth reordering your list and then creating a set of blacklisted apps where PopClip doesn't appear so it doesn't mess with your usual routine.

Open up PopClip from the menubar, select the "extensions" tab, and deselect any of the actions you don't use. If you're a big keyboard shortcut person, you can get rid of cut/copy/paste since you'll likely never use them. This gives you more room for the extensions you actually use. Next, reorder them by how often you'll use them (just drag and drop the icon on the left).

Finally, the last thing you want to do is blacklist a bunch of apps. Chances are you don't want or need PopClip showing up everywhere. So, blacklisting apps like Photoshop, iPhoto or in any games ensures the menu won't get in your way.


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