Thursday, 12 January 2006

Firefox: CoLT copy link text extension

I've always wanted something like Jonah Bishop's excellent CoLT extension for the free Firefox browser: a tool to copy link text to clipboard for pasting elsewhere. Version 1.0 was released earlier this week.
"Link text" is just the underlined or highlighted text on a Webpage which you click to go to the Web page it links to.

Selecting text with the mouse isn't easy, especially with small fonts. You need finer hand control than in most other situations, particularly with Webpages. You know how frustrating it can be - the slightest wrong move and you've selected half a page or even a whole page, instead of the bit you were trying to highlight, or else you've deselected what you were trying to highlight. Or you've accidentally clicked on the link and got carried off to the linked page instead.

Yet being able to copy link text can be so useful, e.g. because it's a title or description of the page linked to and you want to include it, without having to retype it all in full, e.g. in a document, blog post or email. I also need to copy link text in order to:
  • update my template's manual categories with the titles and links of new blog posts (yeah I'm behind on that, I know...), and

CoLT is therefore invaluable, in my view. Once you've installed this little extension and restarted Firefox, just rightclick on any link and the context menu will sport an extra Copy Link Text option.
To install a Firefox extension: in Firefox just click the extension link (which will be to a file ending ".xpi") and click "Install now". If nothing happens and you see, just below your tabs, a message in horizontal bar that "To protect your computer, Firefox prevented this site ([name of site]) from installing software on your computer", you should click "Edit Options" at the end of the bar, then "Allow" and "OK" to allow that site to install extensions, then try clicking the extension link again, give it a few seconds then click "Install now". Close and restart Firefox.

Nice one, Jonah! And now maybe you could add an extra alternative option to copy both link text and the link URL together, space separated? Then my happiness would indeed be complete. (Yeah, sometimes I'm easy to please... one little extension and I'm anybody's. No quips about large extensions, now!)

(Thanks to David McRitchie for tracking down this extension and telling me about it.)

Updated 10 March 2006: Not only did Jonah upgrade this great tool, but I see Jonah has now enhanced CoLT further, including taking account of my wishlist from both this post and my subsequent post, what a man! From his site (the first is particularly cool) -
  • A new %N parameter is now available for specifying a new-line in the custom format string.
  • The plain text format for the "copy both" command has been updated.
  • The "copy both" option is now enabled by default.
  • The default format for "copy both" is now HTML rather than plan text.

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jackvinson said...

I've been using the CopyURLplus extension that gives you the option of copying the URL, Title of the page and selection. Not quite the same as what you describe here, but handy from time to time.


Jack Vinson
Knowledge Jolt:

Improbulus said...

Hi Jack, yes I've been using CopyURL+ since I got Firefox (being a copy/paste fan I have virtually all the tools for that going!). Unfortunately they have no Copy Link Text option.

My ideal would be for Jonah to add a second menu item Copy Link Text + URL (as well as the standard "Copy Link Text"), as that is what I personally would use the most. As it is I have to do stuff in two stages, copy the link text, then copy the URL (or vice versa). Hope Jonah will read this!

Nannothemis said...

You can solve the font-too-small issue by holding down the control key and scrolling your mouse scroll wheel down, enlarging the font on the page. Then grab your text and carry on.

Improbulus said...

Thanks for the comment nannothemis. I use a trackball rather than mouse, so no go for me... I still like CoLT though. And it's been updated too, including to take into account my comments!

Anonymous said...

Can someone PLEASE, PLEASE PLEASE make an add on that:

copies multiple links WITH their text at the same time?

So I can copy lists of links that appear on a webpage with their text anchor?

NO one has made this it seems.

Driving me nuts. I wish I knew how.