So much for standards. In the computer world, even new versions of Microsoft’s de facto standard Word are not completely compatible with previous versions of Word. Worse, email that bounces back and forth messes up the text. In short, text has become a mess. What can clean it up?
One of my favorite utilities that I love to own, seldom use, but pat myself on the back when I need it, is TextSoap. What this somewhat geeky Mac app does is clean up text that’s, well, all messed up. It cleans formatted text, clears away bad characters, resolves misplaced spaces, removes incorrigible tabs, and fixes paragraphs that don’t end the way they should.
TextSoap comes with over 100 preset cleaners, but you can customize them to fit your needs.
The problem with TextSoap is that it’s a bit of a Mac geek’s tool, not normally a tool for the masses, even if all of us have text that’s messy looking and needs to be cleaned. The latest version has a new, easier to user interface that is less intimidating, and with all the preset cleaners, makes TextSoap seem simple to use without having wade into all the extra functionality.
TextSoap comes with a built-in editor. Why? The presets are good, but there are times when some formatted text needs a tweak, and that requires a text editor. That’s actually a good thing because text editors have functions like line numbers and line wrap and other features which even the average Mac user will understand right away.
If your text is so mess that a preset can’t get it clean, there are other tools to help. Live text matching lets you learn a little of what is known as regular expressions, which is a fancy way of digging deep into dirty text, and being able to remove or modify it so it ends up clean.
Did I mention color coded actions?
This is a graphical way to see and choose custom cleaner definitions by color, rather than digging through what looks like code or a preset name that isn’t easily understood. Choose red and get a specific action. Add blue and get another action.
TextSoap has been around for many years on the Mac and it gets better and more capable with every release. Some offices use it regularly to clean up documents with mixed formatting issues. Others use it to clean up the cruft leftover from email messages that have bounced back and forth so many times that the older threads are almost impossible to read.
As is the case from an experienced and thoughtful Mac app developer, TextSoap comes with a try-before-you-buy option. If there’s a negative, and it’s sure not much, it’s that 100 presets are plenty to wade through, but that’s just a hump you need to cross over.