PopClip: iOS Style Copy and Paste Comes to the Mac

Slowly we have seen how Apple has implemented iOS features into the Mac, and have made them work delightfully. Lion was aimed right at making the Mac more intuitive and more iOS like. Everything from the scrolling direction to the gestures were all improved with the iOS experience in mind, and it shows.

But there are still plenty of things that iOS has that Mac OS X doesn’t. For example, the cool little copy and paste pop up menu. Today we are reviewing an app called PopClip that brings this functionality to the Mac. How well does it work? Read on to find out!

Getting Started



The first time you open PopClip, a small window will appear in your menu bar, showing you a little message about how to use the app. To activate PopClip, simply select any piece of text and PopClip will automatically show you a little toolbar almost exactly like the one you’d see on an iOS device.


In Action

In Action

What the pop-up displays once you select a piece of text depends on what you are highlighting. The app is pretty intelligent and it can detect email addresses and links to websites and display the right options for each one of them. If you select any sentence, it will only display the usual Edit shortcuts (Cut, Copy, Paste) and a search feature that will launch a Google search for that phrase.

If you select just one word, it will display all of the previous features and also a button to launch the dictionary and look up the selected word. If you select an email address, it will show you the Edit and search features, as well as a feature to launch a new message to the selected address through your email client. The same goes for links, if you select one, you’ll be shown a button to launch the address in your browser.

Other Features

Other Features

Other Features

It’s pretty notable how intuitive and well-thought the app is. Even though it freaked me out the first times I selected anything after I installed it, it is actually pretty smart and non-intrusive. For example, the popup window will immediately go away as you start scrolling, or as soon as you click elsewhere.

The app also comes with a menu bar component that you can disable anytime. In it you can check off a few settings as well as turn off the popup. Also you can check off any features that you might not be using, and increase the size of the popup window. But the most useful of these is the “Excluded Apps” list, which lets you select apps where you don’t want the popup to appear.

Keyboard Shortcuts vs. PopClip

This little pop-up window works on the iOS because there you have no faster way of doing actions like copying and pasting text once you select it. While you are using the computer, it’s probably faster for you to use your handy CMD+C and CMD+V for doing tasks like copying and pasting text, even though this could change depending on the situation (maybe you don’t have your keyboard handy, for example if you are reading an article).

I can feel cynicism bubbling up. Why would you buy this if it really only does basic stuff that you can do for free? Well, yes, there are faster ways of getting some of these things done in your computer, but first off: it looks pretty cool and makes your computer feel even more like a mobile device. Second: not all tasks that this app does can be done with a keyboard shortcut. So, while PopClip might not be as fast in some areas, it does provide more speed in certain tasks, like launching the dictionary or sending an email to a certain address.

Overall, I’m pretty impressed with it, even with the idea of bringing more of what makes the iOS so great, to the Mac. If anything, I’d love to see the mail thing work with the web version of Gmail, instead of interacting with my default email client (which I don’t use).


I was pretty unsure about this app when I first heard about it, and I had a feeling that I was not going to enjoy using it. I felt like it would be just another gimmick that I would forget after a few uses, like I do with many of the apps that I download. So, yes, at the beginning it was a bit weird getting used to it. I didn’t really expect or need the popup most of the time that it showed up, but I learned to love it and I really like that it let me tweak stuff like the size and the features that I wanted it to show me.

This is an example of a well-executed app that’s simple in nature but it delivers on the configuration without getting too complex. I think I’ll continue using it and see how it grows on me as time passes. What about you? Do you think you would enjoy iOS-like copy and paste functionality on your Mac? Have you tried PopClip? Let us know in the comments!


PopClip does a great job at bringing the iOS text selection popup over to the Mac, and adding a few features like Google and Dictionary search.