While macOS has gradually adapted features that were once only found in iOS and iPadOS, contextual selection tools remain stuck in the past. Select text and you’ll have to Control-click to bring up a contextual menu with a jumble of options to act on the text. It is difficult to adjust or organize that list.
PopClip provides an iOS/iPadOS-like popup bar that appears when you make a text selection in an app. Dating back to 2011, the app was developed alongside Apple’s evolution of iPhone and iPad options. PopClip includes several options by default, including search on Google, look up a word or phrase in the macOS Dictionary app, offer to open a URL as a link, and provide spelling suggestions.
Why switch to a pop-up bar? It speeds up the time from selection to result, making it an intuitive drag-and-click operation rather than menu navigation or copy and paste into an app or website. For actions you perform many times a day, you do away with friction and time.
The app also helps with paste operations. In any location where you can type, PopClip offers a one-click paste operation and the ability to add a paste-and-match style button. Pasting with the app is just a bit unintuitive: you have to double-click the insertion point, click and hold for at least half a second, or Shift-click.
PopClip becomes significantly more powerful when you install one of the dozens of extensions that developer Pilotmoon Software makes available for free. These extensions can act on text and links, perform translations through third-party sites, pass search queries to a variety of search, trade, and information sites, and shorten links.
For example, you can use PopClip to convert text to uppercase, copy rich text from a website or other document and have it converted to Markdown, send it to Bing Translator for translation, shorten a link in Bitly, or upload a movie to title to search in Rotten Tomatoes or IMDb.
Extensions also connect PopClip to dozens of other apps, allowing you to create notes, tasks, and calendar events, and even make calls over FaceTime or Skype. The list is so extensive that I can hardly skip the surface in this summary. Just about every popular productivity app, browser, and search site is included for starters.
You can install up to 25 extensions at a time and rearrange them by dragging their icons into the PopClip system menu, which tells you how they appear in the selection or paste popup bar.
Pilotmoon offers a fully functional demo version on its site that is good for 150 uses. The full version costs $14.99 through the Mac App Store. macOS 10.13.6 or later is required. A free trial is available on the developer’s website.
When editor Dan Frakes reviewed an early version of PopClip in 2012, just a year after its initial release, he commented, “I find PopClip easier and faster than using traditional menu commands. It’s even more convenient than right-clicking on selected text.” clicking to open similar options from the contextual menu.”
PopClip has built on that strength over the past decade by expanding its range without having to stretch further. The long list of extensions combined with the convenience of one click means that a quiver full of handy arrows is ready to be fired from your Mac selection bow.
We last reviewed PopClip in 2012, not long after its launch.
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