KClipper: Save Text Clips to your Kindle

Jun 19 2009 Published by under Apollo, Flash, General, Kindle

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A couple of months ago I got my Kindle 2. I was a bit skeptical, but fell in love with it. Even then, I thought, well, it’s new and shiny, see how much you like it in a few weeks. I still love it. In addition to books, I found it was a great tool for reading stuff later, such as blog posts or articles you see on the web. Of course you can subscribe to blogs (for $$$) and you can set up Instapaper to send stuff to your Kindle, and there are other services that also allow you to subscribe to and send blogs to your Kindle. These work through the Kindle conversion process, which is going to cost you $0.15 per megabyte or any part thereof. Not a big deal in the big picture. And there is the convenience of having it go straight to the device wirelessly.

But I found myself often seeing an article on the web that I wanted to check out later on the commute or whatever. The Kindle happily accepts plain text files, so I found myself just copying the text of the article, opening Text Edit and pasting it in, and saving it to the Kindle. Worked great. But my Kindle isn’t always plugged in. So I started saving the files in a folder and then later when I connected, I’d just drag the contents of the folder into the Kindle documents folder. Then I thought, hmmm… saving text to a text file in a specific directory and then copying all the files in that directory to another directory… that’s something a simple computer program should be able to handle. And so, KClipper was born.

kclipper

Here is a rough feature / non-feature list:

  • KClipper (pronounced “kay clipper”) is made with Adobe AIR, so it should run fine on Mac or Windows (though I’ve only tested it on my Mac.
  • It’s FREEEEEEEE!
  • Your Kindle does not need to be connected to copy and save articles.
  • Your Kindle DOES need to be connected to transfer the articles to the Kindle itself.
  • In other words, this does not use email or wireless, which also means that it won’t cost you a dime.
  • Currently, KClipper only supports plain text. So no fancy formatting. No images.

Here’s how it works. You see something you want to read later. You select the text, copy it, open KClipper and paste the copied text into the left pane. KClipper reads the first line of the text as a title for the article, so you can edit that if it doesn’t reflect what the article is about. You hit “save” and the article is saved to your hard drive, in a KClipper Articles directory. The first time you use the program, you’ll be asked to choose a directory to store your articles in. You can change that any time through the preferences.

You can save as many articles as you want. Read them again right in the KClipper UI if you want. Mark them up, edit them, delete them if you change your mind about them. I don’t know of any particular limit on article length. I guess whatever the AIR text field will support. Most likely good enough for even a very large blog post. Not sure if you’d be copying and pasting War and Peace anyway.

So now you’re going to hit the road after a long day of saving articles from your favorite web sites. You plug in your Kindle and hit “sync”. Bam. All your articles are now on your Kindle. The first time you sync, you’ll be asked to specify your Kindle documents directory. Simply browse to your Kindle. There you’ll see a directory named “documents”. Choose that, and you should be all set from there on out.

If you didn’t make it through that explanation, hit play, sit back and let me babble incoherently to you, while watching the pretty pictures.

That’s it. Pretty darned simple. In fact, so simple, that I’ve put off releasing it for some time. I actually created the program shortly after I got my Kindle, almost a couple months ago. Then I started invalidating it. I mean all it does is save files to a directory and then copies them to another directory. But I realized that I’m still using it on a regular basis. Furthermore, I haven’t needed to fix anything or update it at all since I finished programming it. It’s so simple, it just does what it does and works. Anyway, if it’s useful to me, it might be useful to others too. If not, hey, it’s free. Delete it is it’s wasting disk space and move on.

Here’s the link to the installer.

KClipper

Two things:

1. Again, it’s an Adobe AIR program. So if you have some big irrational beef against Adobe or AIR, move along.

2. This means you’ll need the Adobe AIR runtime installed on your computer. Get that here. I could have done the whole installer badge thing, which would have auto-installed AIR for you if you didn’t already have it, but we’re all big boys and girls here. I’m sure you can manager two installs in one day.

OK, I lied. Three things.

3. When you go to install it, it’s going to tell you that it’s an unsigned app, and ask you if you want to trust it. I don’t know much about app signing. Apparently I’d need to go to some third party certificate vendor and pay them money for them to say that I am I’m not installing a virus on your computer. Whatever. I didn’t do that, so you’ll get this big warning that seems to imply that I AM going to do something bad to your computer. I’m not, but if this scares you, don’t install it. No hard feelings.

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12 responses so far. Comments will be closed after post is one year old.

  • kp says:

    I should mention that this should work fine with any Kindle. 1, 2, DX. It will probably work fine for many other types of ebook readers as well. Again, it’s just copying files from your hard disk to a specified directory on an attached device. As long as you have a device that mounts to your file system and allows you to select it, or a folder on it, it should work.

  • ilteris says:

    Great job! I am sure you already thought about adding a bookmarklet for this. It would be awesome. I haven’t bought a kindle yet you are going to be the main reason if I buy one :)

  • kp says:

    Not sure how a bookmarklet would work. You kind of have to selectively select the text you want. If you just saved the whole page, you’d get all the ads and menus and links and other garbage.

  • kp says:

    Oh, and if you do get a Kindle, and I am the main reason you buy it, get it from the link on this page: http://www.bit-101.com/blog/?p=2083 and I will be rewarded with enoug cold, hard cash to purchase a new book or two for my own Kindle. :)

  • Merritt McCall says:

    Thanks for KClipper. Like you, I love my K2 and used it for articles as well as books. I either saved the text to a folder for later download or converted it to a prc file using Mobipocket for later download. KClipper is a better solution!

    I did run into one problem, however. Various articles use characters in their titles which keep KClipper from saving the text. Took me a bit to figure out what was causing the error messages (#2308 if I remember correctly). Simply adjust the title to standard file name conventions and the article saves fine.

    Again my thanks!

    • kp says:

      Thanks Merritt. Do you know what characters were causing a problem? I am auto-replacing a bunch of characters which I know cause problems, but I only tested on OS X, not Windows, so I may have missed some due to that.

  • Merritt McCall says:

    Hi kp,

    I haven’t specifically tested to find out which characters cause the problem, but I have discovered that if the title contains either a question mark or one or two double quotation marks the document won’t save (the apostrophe/single quotation mark and the ampersand seem to work ok). From long-ago DOS experiences, I would guess that most of the characters at the very top of the keyboard will cause problems (the shift/numberkey characters).

    Today is very full, but perhaps I can test them tomorrow. No promises, but I’ll try.

    Merritt McCall (mcmccall@aol.com)

  • Merritt McCall says:

    Hi again, kp,

    I’m using Windows XP Pro. I tried saving a text file in KClipper with each of the characters on the keyboard included in the title (one by one). The only characters which gave me the error message (and it is Error 2038) were the asterisk, the double quote, the question mark and the greater than and less than characters. Everything else seems to be acceptable, at least to XPP. Apparently I just happened on two of the unacceptable characters in short order.

    Hope that helps.

    Merritt

  • Louie says:

    was about to send back the kindle till I found your app! great idea. Can you add a way to send the text to the kindle wireless? “name”@kindle.com address for wireless delivery.

  • Louie says:

    I get error 2038 too! ironically it was text copied from amazons site. try cutting and pasting, it crashes…

    http://www.bit-101.com/blog/?p=2083

  • [...] are partially read samples that I might take a look at some time, and articles saved through my own KClipper application. I know there are a lot more features it could have, but when you are reading a book, [...]