Lightly Quote Clipping App Promises Unlimited Background Clipboard Monitoring

lightly

One thing that’s still lacking in the Nerdiverse is a way to collect quotes which I clip from, well, from everywhere. How neat would it be if you could collect snippets of text from Kindle books, web pages, news articles and so on?

Very neat, is the correct answer.

Lightly comes pretty close, and with a new update, the clip-to-Evernote service can run in the background indefinitely, grabbing anything you copy to the clipboard. In theory at least.

Lightly is a great app already. When in a browser, you just highlight some text and copy it. Meanwhile, Lightly will save the whole page (stripped down to only the text and images) with your copied text highlighted. The page is saved with its URL, and you can change the color of the highlight and add new highlights. The whole lot is saved in a user-chosen Evernote notebook (complete with highlights).

The problem was that it could only run for a few minutes in the background before iOS killed the process. The new update uses location tracking as a workaround. Not only does it record where you made the highlight (which is actually pretty useless in this context), but it also “allows Lightly to run in background without time limit” according to the iTunes Store description.

In testing, this claim appears to be false. Something, somewhere is cutting off the background monitor. I tested by quitting the app, waiting for a little while and then copying some text in Mobile Safari. I then copied some text from someplace that wasn’t a browser (Lightly only works in a webkit browser view, but as it also grabs the clipboard content on launch, I needed a way to “clean” the clipboard).

Result? Spotty. Sometimes the app seems to grab the copied text, sometime it doesn’t, which makes it almost mandatory to launch it prior to clipping text. Yes, you can use the browser bookmarklet to do this too, but as you can just use the Evernote bookmarklet to do pretty much the same (and it’s fast on A7-powered devices) then it seems rather pointless.

However, this update has reminded me of a project I was planning but never really started: to use Pinboard as a universal inbox for my clippings. I can use the description field for the highlights, and you can get the info into it from pretty much anything that is used for reading. An I’m going to check right now to see if I can mail in quotes from the Kindle and Kindle app. Fingers crossed.

About the author

Charlie Sorrel Charlie Sorrel is the Reviews Editor here on Cult of Mac. Follow Charlie  on Twitter at @mistercharlie.

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