My colleague Peter Butler recently wrote about Everything, a small, ancient-looking app that searches your files and folders with real-time results. He asked what other tiny but mighty apps you use day-to-day, and two of you responded with Tidy Mail and StripMail, both petite programs that are used to erase funky formatting and characters from e-mail messages, mostly forwarded.
Surely these stand-alone desktop applications are far too pass? to remain useful? Yes and no. StripMail and Tidy Mail are old-school, but the freeware cleanup apps may still come in handy if you're the type who can't stand to forward a muddled message and find yourself reformatting by hand.
Not that the apps aren't aching for modernizing features, but we'll get to that a little later. In the meantime, let's start with Tidy Mail.
To use Tidy Mail, copy the offending text and paste it into the application using hot keys or by pressing the 'Paste' button. Then click 'Tidy' to remove all '>' characters, extra line spacing, and superfluous tabs and spaces. There's another button to copy the text back to the Clipboard for future pasting. Tidy Mail leaves all hyperlinks be and unfortunately does not wipe out extra characters such as '#' and '!'.
StripMail, on the other hand, is slightly more advanced. In addition to the 'Paste' and 'Copy' buttons, it can remove '>' marks and close line gaps individually, or can reformat all at once when you click 'Do it all.' StripMail clears up other characters in addition to the typical offenders, and can be used to add the indentation carets back in (though we can't imagine wanting to use this.) While still basic, StripMail's all-in-one button and the ability to clear additional characters gives it the lead between the two programs.
Tidy Mail and StripMail would both benefit from a companion (or replacement) browser plug-in that would let you clean up Web mail without having to open a separate app and copy/paste Web mail text back and forth. They could also use an Undo button. Still, the programs are free, quick, and fairly painless to have around when you're motivated to clean up some character-riddled text.