While Google has made commendable efforts to supercharge text selection on Android with more contextually aware features, there’s still a lot you can add with third-party apps. Here are seven apps that make selecting text even better on Android.
1. Multi Copy
Say you’re looking to copy multiple excerpts from a lengthy page. Normally, you would have to grab each individually and paste them in a temporary file before moving on to the next. A free app called Multi Copy makes this process much less cumbersome.
As the name suggests, Multi Copy essentially allows you to copy several text portions from an article without having to paste them elsewhere. The app adds a new option called Multi Copy in Android’s default long-press contextual menu. Selecting that instead of the usual Copy option will let you easily grab all those snippets like you would do with a single chunk.
Multi Copy also offers a bunch of other tools relevant to its core objective. For instance, it shows a popup every time you choose the Multi Copy option that lets you start another clip or save the existing one in a new note. In addition, there’s a feature called Smart Copy that enables Multi Copy inside other apps like WhatsApp. With this, you can even copy messages from different chat windows and paste them as one.
2. Look Up
Another handy app for augmenting your phone’s text selection menu is Look Up. Mac users who regularly employ the OS’s built-in dictionary might be familiar with how this app functions.
Look Up’s pitch is quite straightforward. You select a word, tap its entry in the menu, and the word’s definition appears. But that’s not all. The free app also comes with the ability to bookmark these words and lets you add notes to them.
What’s more, if you hit the little menu button on the popup, there are a few quick actions for checking the word’s synonyms, dictating it, and even translating to another language (the latter requires the premium version). Thankfully, it works offline so you don’t need an internet connection to use all these features.
If you find Look Up too limited, try Merriam Webster’s great dictionary app for Android.
3. Text Infinity
Text Infinity, unlike the rest on this list, is not designed for just one purpose. The app brings a host of utilities to the text selection menu on Android. This includes dictation of the selected word, calling or texting a highlighted number, searching the text on YouTube or Google Maps, and translating to a different language.
Text Infinity thus adds five new options to your context menu. It would be nice if the developer allowed you to hide the ones you don’t use, though.
Download: Text Infinity (Free)
4. Clipboard Actions
If you find your text selection menu cluttered with all these new options, try Clipboard Actions. It’s nearly identical to Text Infinity, with one key difference. Clipboard Actions places all its options in the notification shade instead of the long-press list.
Once you’ve copied a piece of text, you can simply swipe down and find a bunch of nifty shortcuts to web search, share, translate, and more. The app also behaves as a clipboard manager, so you can revisit every one of your clippings later down the road. For more like this, check out how to improve the copy-paste functionality on Android.
Download: Clipboard Actions (Free)
5. Universal Copy
Universal Copy goes where no other text selection feature has gone before. The app makes it possible for you to copy text that you wouldn’t be able to otherwise. Once invoked for a particular page, Universal Copy scans the entire screen and lets you select any text without hassle. For instance, you normally can’t directly copy titles of YouTube videos in the app—but with Universal Copy, you can.
There’s even a Select All button when you need it. It’s similar to the old Now on Tap feature that scanned your screen to find relevant information, but instead of offering relevant web results, this app uses it for selecting text.
Download: Universal Copy (Free)
6. Copy to Read
As the name suggests, Copy to Read lets you simply select some text on a web page or anywhere else and have it read aloud. The app makes use of the Google Text-to-Speech engine, so ensure you have that installed and updated.
Too basic? Try the best text-to-speech Android apps instead.
Download: Copy to Read (Free)
7. Screen Translator
Similarly, Screen Translator is a single-purpose app for translating highlighted text. You can choose from a wide array of languages, including regional ones. In addition, once you’ve translated something, Screen Translator adds a bunch of other handy features in the popup.
You can enlarge the translation to show it someone in a foreign city, share it, or edit the input text manually. If you’re looking for a more capable translation app, though, you can use Google Translate in any Android app.
Download: Screen Translator (Free)
Android Text Selection’s Future
In addition to these third-party apps, text selection on Android is natively quite powerful as well. With a few recent updates, Google has made it contextual.
For instance, if you’re copying a location, the menu will have a Google Maps link. But for these features, you’ll have to be using the latest Android version. Unfortunately, this continues to remain a bottleneck for Android.
If you’re fed with your current update scenario, see what Android manufacturers are the best for timely updates.