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Pastebot, another useful and beautiful bot from Tapbots


Over the past couple of years, I've had the pleasure to write about iPhone / iPod touch apps from Tapbots. First there was Weightbot, a beautifully designed app for tracking your weight. Next came Convertbot, a unit converter calculator that featured an innovative and extremely useful interface. Now Tapbots has introduced a third app to their stable of products; Pastebot [US$1.99, iTunes Link], which is a combination of clipboard storage and (with a companion Mac app called Pastebot Sync) inter-platform cut and paste.

Launching the app brings you directly into the Clipboard. As with all of the Tapbots apps, the user interface is not only functional, but a treat to the eyes. To add items to the clipboard, you simply use the iPhone's copy and paste function to copy something. It can be text or a graphic, a URL or a photo. When you copy the item, then launch Pastebot, the item is automatically added to the Clipboard. The Clipboard items have a frame around them with a small circle up in the top right corner. When that circle turns blue (it looks like a blue LED), the clipboard item is selected and ready to perform some action on. Tapping again slides a small toolbar out of the bottom of the frame.
The actions vary depending on whether or not the item on the Clipboard is a graphic or text. For graphics, there are five filters available that can be applied to the photos -- brightness (allows a user to lighten or darken a graphic by moving a slider), convert to black and white, invert, saturation (increase or decrease color saturation, once again with a slider), and sepia.

Text snippets also get the royal treatment from Pastebot. Here, the filters let you convert text to lowercase, uppercase, encode or decode HTML entities, find and replace text, quote lines, add smart quotes, straighten quotes, or wrap text in HTML tags.

All of these are very useful functions on their own on the iPhone or iPod touch. But if you're a Mac user, Pastebot has a cool companion that creates a powerful combo. Pastebot Sync -- a free download from the Tapbots site -- is a system preference pane that adds the ability to let you copy and paste between devices automatically. This capability, as you can see in the video at the top of this post, is nothing short of sheer genius.

I often need to take screenshots on my iPhone and then ship them over to my Mac for inclusion in a post I'm writing. Usually this entails either mailing the photos to myself five at a time, or putting them in my Dropbox to pick up later. I then run the screenshots through Preview for cropping and resizing. Using Pastebot, I simply tap on a photo that I've already cropped (yes, Pastebot does that, too!) and it is "pasted" to my Mac. Using File > New from clipboard in Preview opens the iPhone screenshot in a new document, ready for touchup, annotation, and resizing before publishing in a post.

Pastebot works the other way, too! Let's say that I want to have a company logo saved on my iPhone so I can paste it into my emails. Since I leave Pastebot Sync running on my Mac all the time, I open the logo on my Mac, copy it, and seconds later it's in the Clipboard in Pastebot on the iPhone. To paste it into an email, I can either tap and hold on the logo to copy it to the iPhone's clipboard, then paste it in the text of the email, or I can simply tap on the Share icon below the logo in the Clipboard and select Send as Email. The Share icon also lets me choose to paste the graphic to a Mac, save the image into my photo library, or save it in a folder.

Pastebot can hold up to 99 items in its Clipboard, but if you have more graphics or text snippets to store, you can create any number of folders. The folders can be given a unique name and one of six different folder icons for visual identification.

Is there competition for Pastebot? PasteCatcher [US$0.99, iTunes Link], a product from our TUAW colleague Erica Sadun, can send clipboard items from a Mac to an iPhone, but there's no two-way capability. There are also a number of apps for transferring text and graphics to and from Mac and iPhone, but none of them work as seamlessly or as easily as Pastebot.

As I've said before, Tapbots apps are beautifully designed, and an incredible amount of thought goes into making them groundbreaking in their functionality and usability. If you do any work that requires you to keep a lot of boilerplate text or graphics available for pasting into emails or moving to your Mac, Pastebot can be a powerful assistant. While I often use an app for a while and then delete it from my iPhone, Pastebot is a keeper. It's even moving to my iPhone's home screen.

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