CleanHaven Pro makes it easy to clean up messy text
By Dan Miller, Macworld
At a glance
Most of us frequently copy text from one app and paste it into another. Unfortunately, when pasted, that text is often filled with all sorts of stuff we don’t want: extra line feeds or carriage returns, tabs delimiting table columns, HTML code, quote symbols in email, and on and on.
If you’re like me, you’ve devised one or more ways of cleaning up that stuff. For example, I usually use BBEdit () for the job—with its built-in text cleaners, text factories, and support for regular expressions, BBEdit can get rid of almost anything I don’t want. But those features are geared more towards experienced users. Making text-cleaning easy is the challenge CleanHaven Pro (Mac App Store link) seeks to tackle. (Note that the Mac App Store version of CleanHaven doesn’t include “Pro” in its name, but it’s otherwise the same product as CleanHaven Pro, sold on the developers website.)
When you launch CleanHaven, you see a simple window with some checkboxes and pop-up menus on top and a large text field below. Paste the text you want cleaned, select the kind(s) of cleaning you want to perform, and CleanHaven opens a second window containing your “cleaned” text. You can then copy that text to the clipboard for pasting elsewhere, or you can replace the original text with the results in order to further clean using different options. You also have the option to save the results as plain or styled text, or as a tab-delimited, CSV, or Excel table.
CleanHaven divides its cleaners into six groups: Case (which can change the case of your text in one of eight ways); Sort (useful when you’ve pasted tabular data); Duplicates (shows you duplicate or unique lines, or removes the duplicates); Remove (gets rid of all kinds of things, from extra spaces to different types of punctuation and HTML code); Personal (a random assortment of tools, including the capability to convert postal codes into their associated longitude and latitude); and Info (provides information about the text). There’s also a Replace tab that lets you perform basic search-and-replace actions.
You can apply more than one cleaner at a time, making it easy to process text quickly. And the Results window provides a nice way to check the output of a cleaning before you commit to it. CleanHaven is particularly good at transforming tabular data (from, say, a spreadsheet); you can copy the data into CleanHaven, clean it up in all sorts of ways, and paste it back into your spreadsheet quickly and easily.
CleanHaven is not the only program dedicated to the cleaning of text. The best known alternative is probably TextSoap (), which is quite a bit more powerful. TextSoap can clean a batch of files at once, integrate with other apps, and work conditionally; it also supports regular expressions, allowing for far more powerful text-munging. And, as noted, many text editors have all the tools you need, too.
The main appeal of CleanHaven is its straightforward simplicity: You’d likely be able to use all of the program’s features right away, without any tutoring or help. (That’s especially good because there is no tutorial or help system available.) As such, it’s great for casual use. And, at $25, CleanHaven is relatively affordable. (There’s also a free version that’s less flexible about which text it can clean and is missing a number of the Pro version’s more-advanced text-cleaning tools. The developer provides a comparison of the two.) While those other apps will do everything CleanHaven does and more, in my experience none will do it as quickly or easily.