PopChar Pro X

PopChar Pro was available to users of System 7, and still exists as PopChar Pro X. Such longevity has earned it a loyal customer base, most of whom would probably not countenance using any alternative.

Now that OS X comes with a Character Palette – a PopChar-style font utility (System Preferences-
International-Input Menu) – why buy PopChar? As with most things, its true worth is contingent upon who you are and what you do.

PopChar is a floating window that’s launched by clicking on a small ‘P’on the top-left of your desktop, although it can be slid across the menu bar. Clicking on the P brings up a window with the available characters for any selected font.

The PopChar window can be made to disappear once you mouse off it, making it more accessible than Character Palette, which is nested in a drop-down menu. Clicking on a desired character instantly inserts it into a document. Although Character Palette also offers this ability, the difference is that adding characters to documents is a multi-click process.

Oddly, one of PopChar’s biggest benefits over Character Palette isn’t touted as such by its publisher, Macility. PopChar offers a great way of adding to one’s library of special-character shortcuts, because when you mouse over a character in PopChar it displays its shortcut in the bottom-right of the window. Character Palette offers no such thing, and is the poorer for it.


If your work involves endless special-character insertion, PopChar’s many minor efficiencies over Character Palette will soon add up. Otherwise, it’s unlikely to represent value for money.

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