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Copy portions of text clippings System
Dan Frakes, who runs Macworld's MacGems section, emailed me an interesting tidbit about text clippings. Dan writes:
Open a large text clipping. When you move the mouse cursor over the text in the clipping, it *looks* like a text-highlight cursor. Now 'highlight' some text and copy it (by using Command-C). The text will never actually highlight, but when you paste into another application, you'll see that the text was indeed copied!
For those who aren't familiar with the term, text clippings are little snippets of text that you create by dragging a chunk of text from within an application and then dropping it on your desktop (or other folder). For the longest time in OS X, these clippings weren't nearly as useful as they were in OS 9 -- you couldn't copy the text of the clipping, leaving drag-and-drop as the only means of working with them. Then, in 10.3, Apple finally restored the ability to copy text clippings. You still couldn't select text within the clipping for copying, but at least you could copy the whole thing.

Sometime between 10.3 and now, it seems we've gained the ability to copy portions of text clippings, though the non-functional highlight makes it a bit tougher than it should be -- perhaps this is a bug, not a feature?
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Copy portions of text clippings | 19 comments | Create New Account
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Copy portions of text clippings
Authored by: davidm on Jul 21, '06 08:34:01AM

I've never known about text clippings before now, and am trying to figure out how to create them in the first place. What apps does it work in? I just figured it out in Mail.app (but it's hard - I have to click on the very edge of the selection highlight), but it doesn't seem to work in Safari. Any hints?



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Copy portions of text clippings
Authored by: frankt on Jul 21, '06 10:28:04AM

I have found that dragging text clippings does not work in some Safari window frames. It works in the main body of a web page just not from some types of frames. I have no technical reason why this should be. It's just a personal observation.

---
"You got to keep the loonies on the path."



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Copy portions of text clippings
Authored by: aranor on Jul 21, '06 07:28:29PM

It should work in pretty much any app, and you don't have to drag the edge of the highlight. The trick is you highlight text, then you click and hold on the highlight for a second or so before dragging. That way the text will get dragged instead of re-highlighting a new range.



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Copy portions of text clippings
Authored by: scotty321 on Jul 21, '06 08:48:24AM

Unbelievable. This is an amazing hint!! I never knew this!! I was always dragging-and-dropping my text clippings onto TextEdit to open them & copy/paste them.

To answer the above reader, the trick to getting text clippings to work is to HOLD DOWN YOUR MOUSE on the selected text for a few seconds BEFORE dragging the selected text to your desktop.



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Copy portions of text clippings
Authored by: osxpounder on Jul 21, '06 02:33:32PM

I, too, was bummed to discover how broken .textclipping files were in OSX, but I did notice from a hint here in the past that I could open a .textclipping, do CMD-C, and the whole clipping would be copied.

Since it's impossible to see what I'm selecting in a clipping, I just paste it and then do my select and cut in the app I pasted into. I stopped dragging and dropping clippings because it so often fails.



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Copy portions of text clippings
Authored by: osxpounder on Jul 21, '06 02:37:44PM

Yep, that trick works, but it's annoying since you must modify your behavior for just one or two apps like Safari -- i.e., it's a big no-no in interface design [actually several no-nos]. I hope they will fix this bug eventually.

It's also harmful if you suffer from RSI to do that extra-long button holding, so I don't do it. I usually mark the text, CMD-C, and paste elsewhere if I find myself copying text from a web page more than a few times consecutively.



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Copy portions of text clippings
Authored by: chyna4xena on Jul 23, '06 10:44:02PM

I'm on 10.3.9, and I have found that the necessity of holding, and indeed the length I must hold before commencing the drag, is not dependent on the application but on how taxed my CPU is.

When the computer is slowish, all apps require me to hold for 2 or 3 seconds before dragging, occasionally more. If the computer isn't being taxed, I can drag after about a second, from Safari as well as other apps.

This is expected, because Safari uses the same text-and-mouse-handling routines as all the other Cocoa apps - there is no difference in the interface so no no-no has been committed!

I have found that the real difference with Safari is that it tends to exhaust less-capable CPUs. My 1GHz G4 starts hitting molasses with only about 6 tabs/windows open; I've been trying several hints to speed it up, without success so far. Also, Safari seems to slow down despite my CPU being reported as only slightly taxed, so it isn't always clear from MenuMeters whether you'll get to drag promptly or have to wait.

The key is to watch the cursor - whilst over text (highlighted or not) the cursor will be the standard I-beam. When you click and hold a selection, it will change after a pause to the arrow pointer. When it changes, you can move the mouse and start dragging. Dragging before that (when it is still an I-beam) will start a new selection.



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Copy portions of text clippings
Authored by: BulbVivid on Jul 21, '06 09:08:44AM

You can double-click a text clipping to open it and hit command-c (or use the edit menu) to copy the contents.



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Re: Copy portions of text clippings
Authored by: Uncle Asad on Jul 21, '06 10:17:35AM

Obviously it was sometime between 10.3.9 and "now", since (alas) this hint doesn't work on 10.3.9. I see the text cursor, but after "highlighting" a bit of the clipping, copy still grabs me the entirety of the clipping's contents.



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Cool beans...
Authored by: GORDYmac on Jul 21, '06 12:09:30PM

I have always wondered why I couldn't copy text in "text clippings". This is a great hint. I hope you get an iPod for this one.



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Copy portions of text clippings
Authored by: chleuasme on Jul 21, '06 12:31:12PM
text clippings are little snippets of text that you create by dragging a chunk of text
It's more powerful ;-) (as in MacOS pre-X -- not sure of my memory) texts are copied with their style, images are stored with (for example : try select all for this page of Safari and then drop all on the desktop, then drop the .textClipping in a new RTF file in TextEdit). You can even "pack" attachments from Mail displayed as icon and re-use them in a later e-mail (never used this last feature -- seems buggy).

the fact to copy (and in particular, as described in this hint, a portion of) text doesn't keep images and style informations

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Copy portions of text clippings
Authored by: Little Neddy on Jul 21, '06 03:39:12PM

If you aim the mouse cursor so that it is above a big letter (W,M) etc. before holding the mouse button down it seems to work in most apps including Safari



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Copy portions of text clippings
Authored by: jiclark on Jul 21, '06 03:56:48PM

Thank you, thank you, for this *excellent* hint!

I've used clipping files for years for archiving everything from bits of helpful info, to registration numbers and such for shareware. It's so great to finally be able to, for example, open a clipping that contains both the user name and registration number for an app, then select each individually and paste them into the registration dialog, instead of having to use something like TextEdit as an interim helper! Very nice to know it works, even if they haven't fully implemented the visual feedback...



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Copy portions of text clippings
Authored by: rbenezra on Jul 21, '06 04:53:10PM

How did you ever figure this one out? Great hint! Text clippings are back on my menu!



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Copy portions of text clippings
Authored by: DanFrakes on Jul 22, '06 02:25:42AM

Sorry, my post below was supposed to be in reply to this one ("How did you ever figure this one out?").

---
Dan Frakes / Senior Editor, Macworld / Senior Reviews Editor, Playlist



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Copy portions of text clippings
Authored by: AveryTimm on Jul 21, '06 10:48:49PM

I just noticed this recently(within the last few weeks). I could never understand why you couldn't select text in a clipping. I don't remember it working in OS 9.



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Copy portions of text clippings
Authored by: DanFrakes on Jul 22, '06 12:01:18AM

Totally by accident! I had opened a text clipping I wanted to copy, but when it opened it was blocking my view of a document I was looking at. So I tried to quickly move it, but missed the title bar and "dragged" the cursor inside the text area instead. When I copied and then pasted, I thought it was weird that only *some* of the text was copied. Then the wheels in my head started churning ;) I was thinking, "no, that can't be..." But it was.

---
Dan Frakes / Senior Editor, Macworld / Senior Reviews Editor, Playlist



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Try Double and Triple Clicking
Authored by: marjar on Jul 22, '06 02:37:42AM

Double-clicking a word will "select" it; triple-clicking will select the entire line. Zooming or dragging the clipping horizontally will extend the amount of text that is selected by triple-clicking. So if you want to select a whole sentence, just drag the clipping grow box until the sentence fits in a line. Works best on first lines, of course.



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Copy portions of text clippings
Authored by: slimflem on Jul 23, '06 07:13:28AM

Here's the combination I use. I have setup Expose for "Desktop" to trigger when I hold Option and click the right button on my mouse. This allows me to select some text. Start dragging it, then press option and right click. Now my desktop is visible and I just drop the text.

( I also have Command + right-click to trigger all windows in Expose. )

This works out really good.



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