I am sure you have all experienced issues with garbled text from time to time. Perhaps you received some text in an email. Or, maybe you OCR (Optical Character Recognition) some text that you wish to work with, but it has tabs between some of the words or the carriage returns are not right. I use to spend a lot of time trying to manually fix these types of issues. However, there is an easier way.
Text Cleanup TextEdit
I just want to show you two ways to cleanup text on your Mac. One is for occasional use, the other for people who need this type of functionality more frequently. If you only need to cleanup text occasionally, you can do that using the macOS TextEdit application. Here is some text that contains some unwanted Tabs and carriage returns:
To remove those problems you start by going into the “Find” Command in the “Edit” menu. You will get a window like this:
Just click on the magnifying glass search symbol and you will be presented with this menu:
Select “Insert Pattern” and TextEdit presents a dropdown menu with some choices:
In this case you would select “Tab”. TextEdit presents your text with the Tabs selected:
All you have to do is check the box for “Replace” and then click on “All”:
Your Tabs are replaced. But, what are they replaced with? When you selected “Tabs” from the Insert Pattern menu you left the lower “Replace” box empty. So when you told the App to replace all, it removed the Tabs and replaced them with nothing which is just what you want. As you can see from the drop down Insert Pattern menu, you can fix all kinds of things in messed up text using this method. If you would like to go into this method more deeply, read this article which is a bit more thorough and covers a few other capabilities of the TextEdit method.
Text Cleanup TextSoap
However, if you are finding that you have to perform this type of text cleanup on a frequent basis, then I say it might be worth it to you to just buy a very cool App called TextSoap from Unmarked Software. It is kind of pricey at $45. However, if you perform this type of activity often, it will save you a ton of time, especially if you are doing this in a work place workflow.
Here is the main window of TextSoap:
You can see many of the more common fixes are listed in the right-hand column. This App is extremely sophisticated! You can fix all kinds of stuff including creating your own workflows for fixing the same things over and over again. In the case of our text I clicked on “Remove All Tabs”, “Remove Extra Returns” and “Rewrap Text” and the document was fixed:
It only took a few seconds to fix this document. I really like the MyScrub feature that lets you save a specific workflow that you can use over and over again. If you are constantly fixing text that you receive in the same way, the MyScrub feature is invaluable. This is all about efficiency and saving time. Of course, TextSoap has many more features than TextEdit. You can do more stuff with it.
To demonstrate TextSoaps sophistication, I clicked on the Group drop-down menu which lists text cleanup routines for different types of documents:
TextSoap has different libraries containing settings appropriate for different types of documents. Now that is sophistication!
By the way, I have used TextSoap for many, many years. I do not need to cleanup text too often, but it is so handy I could not pass it up. TextSoap works just fine in macOS High Sierra.
If you only cleanup text occasionally, then by all means use TextEdit. If cleaning up text is a regular part of your daily or even weekly routine, then I would spring for TextSoap. The Unmarked Software folks do allow for a free trial test of the software; not a bad idea before spending $45 on the App. Also, TextSoap is available on SetApp, the application rental service which might be a better fit for you.