Hooked on the Copy Link Habit

Can you imagine working on your Mac without Copy and Paste? Nor can we.

But guess what. There’s another command that is just as important; it’s Copy Link, which gives you a link to the currently selected or open resource. You can paste the link anywhere you like, so that you can quickly get back to the source later.

But most Mac users still do not know how to copy links systematically!

That raises an intriguing question:

Why do most Mac users not know how to universally copy links?

Most users don’t know how to copy links across the board because of a weird historical accident: none of the major operating system vendors standardized it. This is partly because the web developed long after Apple started making personal computers.

Users are faced with a confusing situation.

  1. Whereas Copy is universally available, only some apps offer a command for copying links to their resources; many (like Apple Books, Apple Notes and Apple Mail) do not.
  2. If an app does have such a command, it may or may not be called Copy Link. Microsoft Word calls it Copy Hyperlink. Brave offers two separate commands: copy and Copy Link Address. Todoist has a Copy Link to Task.
  3. Some apps that allow you to copy links support copying fully formatted links (i.e., where both the name of the item and the address are specified); but many others (like 1Password) just allow you to copy an address (the URL, without the title of the object). That means that the user must manually create the link title themselves wherever they paste the address (using ⌘K).
  4. Whereas the Copy command tends to be in the Edit menu, commands for copying links (if available at all) are situated differently in different apps. Some apps place the command in the Edit menu, whereas others, like Todoist, require that you click a button to get to it. Some apps even require that you click a “share” button to get to the copy link command.
  5. Whereas you can always count on ⌘C being the keyboard shortcut for copying the selection, macOS does not provide a standard keyboard shortcut for copying links.

In sum, getting links to resources in macOS is unpredictable, tedious and downright bizarre. Unless you have Hook.

So, we can’t blame Mac users for not having acquired the universal habit of copying links.

You’ll get hooked on links!

Once I started designing cognitive productivity software in 2001, one of my first realizations was that I needed to provide a way for our users to uniformly obtain links to any object in the personal learning environments we were designing. Every object would have a Copy Link command.

Then I realized that this ability needed to be provided not merely in the personal learning environments we were developing, but system wide. So, we at CogSci Apps set out to create a commercial product, Hook, that enables you to conveniently copy links to just about anything that is in principle linkable on a Mac.

Hook would not replace your favorite apps, it would simply enable you to link the data within and between them! So you could get more out of them.

As a result, Hook’s Copy Link (⌘C) command:

Having been working in this space for so long, we have been able to really “round off” this product by providing:

Hook solves this problem for users

Hook makes it fast and easy for users to copy links to just about anything. More generally, Hook provides a super easy, convenient, consistent, and universal Copy Link command that yields well-formatted links that reflect the title of the resource.

A convenient and consistent habit

Hook’s Copy Link command is convenient: it involves a simple habit that you can apply in any linkable app.

There are only two steps involved for this simple habit. In an open or selected item (such as a file, document or task):

  1. Invoke Hook (with a keyboard shortcut such as ⇧⌘SPACE or ^H).
  2. Use Hook’s Copy Link (⌘C) command.

So basically you only need to learn a two-step habit. In fact, you can turn it into a one-step habit, by using Hook’s keyboard shortcuts.

With Hook, therefore, you can access the Copy Link command in a consistent way. This means you don’t need to ferret through the foreground app’s user-interface to find the app’s Copy Link command (if it has one at all!) Hook’s Copy Link is consistently located. And that’s convenient.

Super easy

Hook’s two-step Copy Link command is so easy to use, anyone can use it.

After you use it a few times it will become a habit. So let’s repeat how simple it is:

  1. Invoke Hook (with a keyboard shortcut or clicking on Hook’s menu bar icon).
  2. Use Hook’s Copy Link (⌘C) command.


Universal: works in any linkable app

We’ve also made the Copy Link command as universal as possible. By this we mean that we’ve enabled you to copy a link to almost anything — even to items whose apps do not expose a Copy Link command in their user interface.

Here are some examples.

  • Finder files. macOS Finder does not provide a Copy Link command for files. ☹️ But Hook does!😊 You can select a file in Finder and use the convenient 2-step habit described above. You can even use this when the file is open in another app, such as TextEdit, Preview or Sublime Text. And Hook’s file links are robust.
  • Apple Notes. Even in the upcoming macOS 12, Apple has not provided a Copy Link command for Notes☹️. Fear not! Hook has you covered. 😊
  • Apple Mail. Apple Mail does not have a Copy Link command. ☹️ Hook provides one for Apple Mail and several other email apps, so you can copy links to email messages.
  • Spotlight. Spotlight doesn’t have links either.

Hook allows you to create links to all of the above, and more! Paste them anywhere, even in Hook.

Well-formatted !

Hook’s Copy Link does not merely give you a URL. It also gives you a fully formatted link that you can paste into any well-designed field — whether rich text, plain text, or HTML.

Some apps (like Big Sur’s Messages) do not like you to paste properly formatted links into them. You can use Hook’s Copy Markdown Link to get around their limitations.

Robust file links

Some apps provide a copy link command on files that yield a file:// URL. However, those URLs are not robust: move the file and the link breaks.

When you use Hook’s Copy Link on a file, you get a link that is robust. Even if you move the file, the link will work.

Deep links to specific locations in PDFs

When you use Hook’s Copy Link command with text selected in a compatible PDF reader, Hook will copy a link to the specific location of thattext in the PDF file! So when you click on that link, Hook will take you back to the precise location in the document. That can save you, and colleagues to whom you send PDF links, lots of time and grief.

See Deep PDF Links Take You Right Where You Need to Focus.

Shareable links: free to use!

Hook’s Copy Link on a Finder file (whether in Finder or while it’s open) yields a link that you can share with your colleagues. As long as they have the same file on their Macs, Hook will do its best to find it for them.

Hook’s Copy Link, when used in email apps, creates links that are shareable! Suppose you use Apple Mail and your recipient uses Airmail. Send them an email link and they can still open it.

Your recipient only needs Hook to open links that use Hook’s URL schemes (such as hook:///email and hook://file/). Conveniently, opening links is free with Hook Lite.

And with Hook Lite (free) they can copy as many email links as they want.

Copying is also bookmarking!

When you copy a link with Hook, you implicitly are signalling that the information is worth bookmarking. So, Hook’s Copy Link also automatically bookmarks the link!

This means that you can later find that link by searching for it in Hook!

And if you’ve configured Hook to work with a bookmark manager, like Pinboard (and soon: InstaPaper and Goodlinks) then Hook will also store a bookmark in those systems!

For more information, see Universal, Effortless, Contextual, Networked Bookmarking.

Copy Markdown Link (⇧⌘C)

If you’re writing in Markdown, then one of the common things you’re doing is creating Markdown links. So we’ve provided a Markdown equivalent to Copy Link which is Copy Markdown Link (⇧⌘C).

Extremely configurable

Hook is one of the most configurable apps you will find. You can change how Hook’s Copy Link function behaves in relation to every app that you use. If you want to tweak the default behavior, simply use Hook’s Script Editor. For instance, if you want Copy Link in Apple Mail to include the date, just go ahead and tweak Hook’s Apple Mail script.

Luc Beaudoin

Luc P. Beaudoin Co-founder, CogSci Apps Corp. My Cognitive Productivity books.