Plain Clip

I do a lot of copying-and-pasting between programs (copying things into/out of emails, moving stuff around Evernote, copying snippets off the web, updating Word files, etc.) and it’s always a headache to deal with formatting. Using the ol' copy - open TextEditor - specify plaintext - paste - select all - copy - paste method is frustratingly inefficient.

Thus I was absolutely delighted to find Plain Clip (Mac OSX only). This little app is so simple it has no UI, but it adds big value by stripping out formatting with just one click. 

Here’s how:

1. Download the application

2. Install to your Applications folder

3. Add a shortcut to the app in your Dock by dragging & dropping

4. Copy something with nasty formatting (Cmd-C), then click the app shortcut in your dock, then paste as usual into another file (Cmd-V)

Voila! Lovely plaintext, right where you want it.

Latin Text Generator for Mac OS X - LittleIpsum

LittleIpsum is a simple lorem ipsum generator that uses an interesting interaction: When you mouse over the menu item (“Copy 1 word”), the label starts incrementing (“Copy 2 words… Copy 1 sentence… Copy 1 paragraph…”) Selecting the menu item again copies the specified amount of text to your clipboard. You get the right amount of Latin text literally in seconds!

Compare this to my previous method of getting Latin text: Google “lorem ipsum”, select a link, highlight the amount of text I need, copy to my clipboard, returning to the program I want to paste it into. Yuck.

What other apps/widgets have you found that make your life easier and more efficient?

What the Font?

A nifty tool for identifying fonts based on images: What the Font

Simply upload an image, verify characters, and view the results. I was very impressed by how useful and usable the tool is–I was able to identify a (very close match of) a font in less time than it took to find the image on my computer.

WTFont results page

The division between computer & user “work” is very well managed– the results page shows fonts which are somewhat similar to the user-submitted font. The user can then look through all of the results and choose which one is the best match. A really great detail: a copy of the image that you submitted remains in the center of the screen as you scroll up and down the list for quick user comparison. Links to asking experts for help or purchasing fonts are worked in seamlessly. Overall, I was very impressed by both the tool and site design. (Much improved from their old site– view if you dare)

I haven’t checked how well this tool works with more decorative fonts, but I’m sure I’ll be back soon.

P.S. Just noticed they have an iPhone app– bonus usefulness points.

Five Second Test

I just found this little site:

Web designers submit images of their site mockups. Users then come to the Five Seconds Test website and select a test to take. The image of your website layout flashes on their screen for 5 seconds, and then the user completes one of the following tasks depending on which type of test they are taking:

  • Classic: users are asked to list things that they remember after viewing your interface
  • Compare: users see two versions of your interface and specify their preference
  • Sentiment: users are asked to list their most and least favorite things about your interface

I took a couple of the tests and found that it was quite fun to be a tester. Maybe that’s just because I really like looking at and analyzing UIs, but the fast paced-nature and simple feedback form makes it rather absorbing. I felt like I wanted to just review website after website, rather than having to keep clicking the “do a random test” button!

Getting users to come to and continue to participate in the tests must be one of FST’s challenges. Without a certain continuous flow of testers, people submitting designs will get little out of the service since this sort of limited feedback really needs to be available in larger amounts in order to gain useful recommendatiosn from it. Although this seems to be a pet project right now, I think this has a lot of potential as a method for quick usability tests & uniting a webdesign community. I’m sure there must be websites out there that are dedicated to users sharing their interfaces and receiving feedback from the community, but the FST feels different because it blends a sense of low commitment with promise of high reward. For quick design iterations, the FST might be all that you need if you’re looking for the impressions of many, rather than the detailed analyzations of a few. It would be great to see the FST creators, mayhem(method), try to build up some community around this, or for an existing online design community to adopt a similar type of test.