Turn a Browser into a Scratchpad

Dmitri Popov

Productivity Sauce

Jul 17, 2013 GMT
Dmitri Popov

Transforming your browser into a scratchpad for jotting down notes is as easy as entering the data:text/html, <html contenteditable> line into the address bar and hitting Enter. There are a lot of variations of this simple trick, and you can find a few of them in a thread on Hacker News. I use a slightly modified version of Writability:

data:text/html;charset=utf-8, <title>Scribbles</title><body OnLoad='document.body.focus();'  contenteditable style="font-size:21px;line-height:1.6;font-family:'Alegreya',Alegreya;max-width:21em;margin:0 auto;padding:3rem;background-color:rgb(233,233,225);color:rgb(68,68,68);" spellcheck="false">

This solution looks and behaves like a regular text editor, and it even supports basic text formatting like bold and italics. The only shortcoming of this neat hack is the fact that there is no straightforward way to save the contents. To solve this problem, you can use a simple Bash shell script that appends the current text selection to the scribbles.txt text file:

#!/bin/bashxsel -p >> ~/scribbles.txt

The script uses the xsel utility which is available in the software repositories of many mainstream Linux distributions. To install xsel on Debian or Ubuntu, run the apt-get install xsel command as root. Make the script executable using the chmod +x foo.sh command. Finally, assign a keyboard shortcut to the script. On KDE, this can be done in the Shortcuts and Gestures section of the System Settings panel. To save the contents of the scratchpad, select the entire text and press the assigned shortcut.

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