Copy unselectable text to the clipboard with Textify


It’s a common PC problem. A dialog box appears with some key data, you need to copy it to the clipboard, but — the text isn’t selectable, so you’re forced to retype it.

The Control Panel “System” applet is a perfect example. It has several lengthy lines of text you might really want to save — Product ID, Processor Type — but none of them are selectable.

Textify is a tiny tool which makes it easier to access and select individual lines of dialog box text, even if they’re not selectable.

The program is a 77KB download which unzips to a single executable, no installation required.

On its initial launch Textify asks you to select its activation shortcut. The default Shift+middle click will probably work for now, so just close that dialog, and Textify will minimise to an icon in your system tray.

Open the Control Panel “System” applet, hover your mouse cursor over the Processor type, hold down Shift and middle-click.

A box should now appear around that line of text. It’s all selected by default, but you can choose just a part of it if you prefer, then press Ctrl+C to copy it to the clipboard, and Esc to close Textify’s selection mode and carry on as before.

This worked perfectly for us, but there are a couple of points to keep in mind.

First, it only works with text content. Our test PC’s System applet displays a Windows logo and the words “Windows 8” to the right, but this can’t be selected because it’s an image. Textify doesn’t do OCR, it only accesses the text in the underlying dialog box control, so if there is no text then you’re out of luck.

Second, Textify only works with the text control under the mouse cursor. If you’re looking at something like the System applet, with multiple separate text controls, then you can’t somehow resize the selection box to copy them all in a single operation. It will only process one line at a time.

Textify could still save you time and hassle in some situations, but if you must have full desktop OCR then you’ll need something larger. Copyfish is a neat example: it’s a Chrome extension, so works almost anywhere, and can grab text from dialogs, web pages, images, videos and more.

Textify is a freeware application for Windows (the author doesn’t say, but we think it works on XP or later).


Operating Systems:

Windows 10, Windows 7 (32 bit), Windows 7 (64 bit), Windows 8, Windows Server, Windows Vista (32 bit), Windows Vista (64 bit), Windows XP