PopClip as Disability Aid.

If you’re like me and are only able to control your mouse cursor and mouse clicks through the use of your accessibility tools, you know how much of a pain in the bum it is to do simple things like copy and paste text. Well, PopClip is one of those tools that you find one day and suddenly think “how on earth have I lived my life without this tool?!” I’ve seriously found it that useful.

It works like this, every time you select a piece of text up pops this lovely overlay1 with lots of options for you to choose from. In the image below you can see that I’ve selected a block of text, so all I would have to do to copy the text to the clipboard is to move my cursor up a little bit and click Copy. That’s it. Bloody brilliant.

Pop-Clip Options

When you first install PopClip it comes with lots of useful things built-in and it was worth the £3 pricetag just to be able to copy and paste text as quickly as that. And speaking of pasting text, it really is a matter of clicking once into the document or Instant Messenger client and then selecting Paste from the PopClip menu when it appears . Simples.

You could leave PopClip as it comes and you would have a great tool, but if you head over to the PopClip extension page you can find lots of free little add-ons to do a whole number of useful things. The extensions range from the ability to select a phone number and call it using Skype, to my favourite which is running a Terminal2 command based on the text you’ve selected. Let me break that last one down for you:

Let’s say that I’m in TextEdit and I want to know what the folder ~/pop-clip-test contains. I can just write ls ~/pop-clip-test , select that text and then click on the Terminal option from the PopClip menu. It’s taking me longer to explain than it does to do, it goes a little something like this:

TextEdit Terminal Example

And then in whichever Terminal you selected3 to use when you first installed the extension, you’ll get an output that looks a little something like this:

TextEdit Terminal Output

Awesome sauces Batman!

Now I’ve seriously only scratched the surface of what’s possible with PopClip here, there’s so much more you can do with PopClip not to mention the fact that you can even create your own extensions if you want to. Speaking of creating your own extensions, the very awesome Brett Terpstra has come up with a simple application that lets you create PopClip extensions really easily. It’s called PopMaker: a PopClip extension generator, and it’s definitely worth a look if you fancy making your own PopClip extensions.

Also, if you’re not following Brett Terpstra’s work then you’re missing out as he’s always dropping really useful tools and methods on the world. Cheers Brett! :-)

  1. I think it’s lovely but my partner said that she would detest having something popping up like that, I don’t know what’s wrong with the world?! 

  2. You can find the Terminal in __ /Applications/Utilities/Terminal__. 

  3. PopClip lets you choose between OS X’s Terminal and iTerm, which is a nice touch.