Low End Mac Reviews

TextSoap 4.5: Powerful Text Cleaning Tools

Dan Knight - 2007.08.06

Rating: 3 and a half out of 4

In my review of Name Munger, I mentioned TextSoap as one of the tools I use to clean up text. And then I realized that although I've been using this gem for years, I hadn't written a review of it.

I've been using TextSoap since at least 2000, running version 2 on my Umax SuperMac S900 clone under Mac OS 9.something. Version 3 added support for Mac OS X, which I started experimenting with in January 2002 and switched to in January 2003.

What Is TextSoap?

TextSoap is a program for cleaning up your text. It can take an email with hard line breaks at the end of each line and turn the text into flowing paragraphs. It can take that text and wrap it to a certain line length or quote it for pasting into a new email. It can make smart quotes dumb - and vice versa.

It can turn non-breaking spaces into regular spaces and replace multiple spaces with a single space. It can capitalize a sentence, turn a selected phrase into all lower case, or capitalize every word you've highlighted. It can convert your text so it's compatible with HTML. It can replace multiple carriage returns with one - or turn one into two.

Best of all, you can create your own filters, so if you want to turn every instance of a double-hypen into a single hyphen surrounded by spaces (as we do at Low End Mac), you can create the tool to do it at the click of a button.

You can even create mySCRUB, a tool that combines all the filters you'd like to apply at once. In our case, it dumbs down quotes, eliminates excess spaces, strips multiple tabs, turns tabs into spaces (there are no tabs in HTML), converts the ellipsis character (…) into three periods (...), changes em-dashes to two hyphens and en-dashes to a single hyphen, an en-space into two spaces, and turns non-breaking spaces into regular ones. Instantly.

If you work with text for a living, a tool like this is invaluable. (It can also do the reverse of most of the things mySCRUB does.)

There are a few Windows characters that I'm still trying to figure out how to clean, but outside of them, TextSoap works flawlessly.

I'm using TextSoap 4.5.2, and Unmarked Software has been asking me to upgrade to version 5 for months now. (The current version is 5.6.) But I'm happy with the tool I'm using and don't yet see how it would benefit me to upgrade.

TextSoap 5

According to Unmarked and reviewers, TextSoap 5 goes way beyond being a cleanup tool for text. It adds features such as tagging text based on its style and converting RTF documents to HTML, which could make my job even easier.

TextSoap works with OS X Services, making its filters available in OS X applications that support services, such as TextWrangler (a powerful, free text editor - and another program I've used for years but not yet reviewed).

TextSoap Standard sells for $29.95, and the Deluxe version costs $39.95. There's also a Windows version for $26.95.

Based on my experience with TextSoap 2.0 through 4.5, I can heartily recommend it to anyone who needs powerful text cleaning tools. It was nearly perfect at 3.5, and knowing Unmarked Software's track record, the latest version only improves upon it. LEM

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