Make Selections to Copy Portions of Text Clippings

One of the things that has always been an annoying problem in Mac OS X is that the text in text clippings doesn't behave like normal text.

Text Clipping
You can create a text clipping by selecting a portion of text in any application and dragging it to the desktop (or anywhere in the Finder for that matter). Once you have done this, a text clipping file will appear, which you can open using the Finder.

The text in the clipping looks normal. For example, the text highlight cursor will appear when you put your mouse over it. However, if you try and make a selection you will find it doesn't work. This means that text clippings are only really useful for drag and drop. Instead of dragging text from one application to the other, you can store it on your desktop for a while before dragging it to somewhere else.

The functionality has been improved somewhat in the past few major updates of Mac OS X. Since Mac OS X 10.3 it has been possible to copy a text clipping by choosing copy from the Edit menu (or by pressing Command-C) instead of only being able to drag them.

Since Mac OS X 10.4 it has been possible to select a portion of a text clipping, but it's a little trickier than it should be. Remember I said you couldn't make selections in text clippings? Well you can... sort of.

If you drag over a part of your text clipping obviously it doesn't look like a selection was made - nothing is highlighted. But when you copy and paste into another application (TextEdit for example) you will find that only the text you dragged over was copied, not the entire text clipping as you would expect.

Now there are a few problems with this. Normally the text clipping will retain the style of the original text, however now it won't. Also it is still pretty annoying having to guess if you have selected the right text.

Luckily, Mac OS X Hints has an article on how to make selected text in clippings highlight.

Basically you have to edit one word in a file within the Finder application. To do this, open your Hard Drive and navigate to System / Library / CoreServices / Finder.

Right-click (or Control-Click) on the Finder and choose "Show Package Contents". Now you have to navigate to Contents / Resources / English.lproj. If you are using a different language, you will need to choose that one instead. Inside your language folder, right-click ClipWindow.nib and choose "Show Package Contents".

Here there are three files. Keep this window open because you will need it later. Copy to your desktop and open it up in TextEdit. In this file you need to change one word. Look for this line:
<boolean name="noSelection">TRUE</boolean>
You can do this using Command-F to search for it or just look about 23 lines down. Change the TRUE to FALSE so it looks like this:
<boolean name="noSelection">FALSE</boolean>

Save and close the file, and drag it back to the ClipWindow.nib folder to replace the original file. You may be prompted to enter your administrator password to do this if you are not an admin. It is probably a good idea to make a backup of this file before you replace it, just in case everything goes pear shaped.

Finally, you will need to relaunch the Finder for changes to take effect. The easiest way to do this is to hold down Control and Option and then click on the Finder icon in the Dock. Choose Relaunch from the list.

Now you have wonderfully improved text clippings!
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