Freeware cleans up email indent marks

It's good to know that almost any annoying little problem you have with a PC can be solved (or at least ameliorated) with some freeware program floating around out there somewhere. Consider one of my pet peeves with email.

I receive and send the vast majority of my email as plaintext. But, after several forwarded emails and replies, the amount of indented, commented text (i.e., text set off with ">" marks to indicate what you're replying to) becomes annoying. And if for some reason you wanted to clean up those marks, the only way to do it has been manually.

Now the folks behind the PaperCut printer-spooler tracking program have created a freeware application that does just that:

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The program runs as a single 171K executable, no installer needed. Once launched, it provides you with a window into which you can paste the text of the email to be cleaned. Click "Strip It!" and the indent marks are stripped out and the original quoted text is restored as best as possible. Another button lets you copy the results back to the clipboard to be reused wherever you like.

Useful as it is, the tiny program has two drawbacks:

  • You can't manually specify the indent mark to be used—it's ">" or nothing. (Luckily, ">" is the most commonly used indent marker in email.)
  • The program recognizes ASCII but not UTF-8 (Unicode) text. This means that people using multilingual email need to watch out; any such text shows up as question marks. (My emails are set to UTF-8 by default, but thanks to the way UTF-8 works, all conventional ASCII characters show up as ASCII anyway—it's just non-ASCII foreign characters that get mangled.)

    About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the  Windows Power Users Newsletter, which is devoted to hints, tips, tricks, news and goodies for Windows NT, Windows 2000 and Windows XP users and administrators. He has more than 10 years of Windows experience under his belt, and contributes regularly to SearchWinComputing.com and SearchSQLServer.com.

    More information on this topic:

This was first published in November 2006

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