Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
July 6, 2012 8:14 PM

Making Copies

I have a massive frustration when it comes to reading books and magazines with my e-reader.

I like to copy and paste portions of text that resonate with me. I like to share them (it could be a tweet or a blog post or on Facebook) and I like to centralize them (in a place like Evernote). The problem, our course, is that this content is usually locked down. You can't just highlight it, copy it and paste wherever you want. There's DRM all over it and the publishers don't want this content floating about. In fact, it's not just my e-reader. It could be a portion of a physical book, magazine or newspaper as well. It would be great to be able to capture this text and turn it into usable content.

There's an app for that.

TextGrabber to the rescue. This iPhone (and iPad) app allows you to take a picture of something in print and it uses some fairly advanced OCR software to turn it into digital text that you can cut and paste and move about freely, but there's a little hack that I've learned when it comes to content you're reading on a screen: If you press the on/off switch and the home button on your iPhone or iPad at the same time, it takes a screen capture. So, all you have to do is take a screen capture of whatever you're reading digitally and then open TextGrabber, bring it in and poof, you've got digitized copy that is free to roam about the cabin.

It's the little hacks that count.

Am I breaking some kind of copyright law? Probably. Am I using the content to sell or for monetary gain? No. I just want to be able to use copy (of content I have purchased) without having to re-type it, and this one little hack has made all of the difference in my content creation and curation.

Why am I sharing this with you? Two reasons:

  1. I am not alone. I'm sure I'm not the only one who is frustrated because they can't copy and paste some quotes out of a book being read on a Kindle.
  2. You have some too. We all have these simple (but powerful) little hacks and workarounds that make us more productive (just take a look at the Lifehacker site). We often don't share them. We should be sharing more.

So, what's your simple little hack that makes your world just a little bit more productive? Do share...

By Mitch Joel