Text Clippings allow you to save pieces of text as small files in the Finder and drag them into text documents and fields. You can create them by dragging text from an application to the Finder.



Video Transcript (Click to Expand)
Hi. This is Gary with MacMost Now. In today’s episode let’s take a look at something called text clippings.
So text clippings are a little used feature of OS X. It’s been around for a while, but it gained a little bit of functionality with every version of OS X. Let’s look at how to use text clippings to save little bits of text for later use.
So here I am in text edit, and I’ve got some text here and I decided that, well, I’m going to use this in other places. Let me save a text clipping of it. To save the text clipping, just select the text you want, and after you have it selected, carefully drag the entire bit of text over to the finder. Now you can do this into a finder window or simply to the desktop. When I drop it here, I get this little document and it’s named after the first few characters in the bit of text. If I want to take a look at what’s in this text clipping I can double click it and will open up this finder window. Yeah, that’s right, this is a finder window. It’s not a window in an application like text edit or preview. You can see I am still running the finder here. And it shows me the text in this text clipping.
Another way to view text in the text clipping is to use the quick look which is just space bar and it will open up the quick look window, like that. Now if I want to use this text clipping, I can just simply drag it back into a document. I’m creating a new text edit document, I can drag this file right in here, and it just pastes it in. I can also double click on it and open it in a finder window, and I can select it. I can select the whole thing, or I can select a portion, and then I can command-c to copy that and paste it in for later use.
So a text clipping is kind of like a text document but you can’t edit it. Once you have it set, there’s no way to change it. You can just drag it into a new document or open it up and copy the whole thing or a portion and paste it into a new document.
Now having files like this clutter your desktop isn’t a good way to use text clippings. A lot of Mac users will create a text clippings folder on their desktop, and when they create text clippings they drag them into this folder rather than right onto the desktop. When you open up this window, then you can see the text clippings that are in the folder. I’ll show you the text clipping folder. Here’s 4 different text clippings that I have and I even have a little preview of them using the column view here. I can also use the space bar to bring up quick look or double click on any of them to bring up this finder window here. So a text clippings folder is a good way to keep your text clippings organized. It will always give them the name of the first few characters in the text clipping, but you can always select it, hit return and rename it and use another name for that specific clipping.
Text clippings are great for being able to store tiny bits of text that you reuse. Perhaps if you’re typing forms or letters and you often reusing the same paragraphs or even in emails.
Now text clippings don’t just have text, you can also have styles and colors and such in there. So here’s a text clipping and you can see in it I’ve got not only some fonts, styles and colors, but even a bullet list in there. Just about anything you can do. You can copy text from lots of applications not just text edit. You can copy them from Safari, you can copy them from word processors, all sorts of different things, and it will retain as much formatting as it can.
So that’s a quick look at text clippings. Not exactly what I would call a power feature of Mac OS X but one of those subtle little parts of the finder that can come in handy. Till next time, this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now.


3 Responses to “MacMost Now 358: Text Clippings”

  1. mayorgreene says:

    Very cool. I’ve been cutting and pasting these from their source(s) into text edit. This is much more efficient. Thanks, Gary.

  2. Ellen says:

    thanks gary.
    another great feature that you introduced me to.
    i appreciate you.

  3. Dick Franks says:

    I just dragged the below text clipping from your web site to my desktop as a reminder to use this nice little Mac feature. Thanks, Gary.

    “Text Clippings allow you to save pieces of text as small files in the Finder and drag them into text documents and fields. You can create them by dragging text from an application to the Finder.”

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