Ergonis’ PopChar (Mac or Windows, 30 euros) is now 20 years old — a testament to its lasting value and quality. In case you missed it: PopChar X shows all the characters in a font and lets you insert any one of them by clicking on it. Its palette can float above other windows, and it detects the current font in most applications.
It can display either ASCII characters or Unicode characters, and when in Unicode mode, the glyphs are grouped by category (Latin, punctuation, symbols, etc.) An innovative Spotlight-like field lets you search for glyphs by character, name, or category (Greek, ligature, punctuation, etc.). As you hover over a character, the keystrokes needed to insert the character are displayed.
It can highlight your recently used characters, and its font menu can group your recently used fonts together. You can insert a character either without formatting (it then takes on the formatting of its insertion point), or with the font and size you choose in PopChar. It can also paste as HTML code for use in Web pages.
If you work with special characters, picture fonts, or want to explore the vastness of OpenType fonts, PopChar greatly simplifies the process.
Jay Nelson is the editorial director of PlanetQuark.com, and the editor and publisher of Design Tools Monthly. He’s also the author of the QuarkXPress 8 and QuarkXPress 7 training titles at Lynda.com, as well as the training videos Quark includes in the box with QuarkXPress 7 . In addition, Jay writes regularly for Macworld and Photoshop User magazines and speaks at industry events.