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Platypus is a tool for changing a web page (such as removing an ad) and optionally creating a Greasemonkey script to make that same change then next time you visit that page. To save scripts, you need to have Greasemonkey installed. To share a Platypus script with someone else, they'll need to have both Platypus and Greasemonkey installed.
There are several ways to start Platypus.
First, you can start Platypus from the Tools menu (on the menu bar at the top of the browser) or by right-clicking on a web page and selecting "Platypus!"
Second, you can start Platypus by selecting a Platypus function from the Platypus toolbar. You can see this toolbar by selecting it in View > Toolbars > Platypus Toolbar.
To use Platypus, you select a Platypus function and apply it to a part of the web page. For instance, you might apply the Platypus "Smart Remove" function to a banner ad. That will remove the banner ad from the web page.
The simplest way to select a Platypus function is to click on one of the icons on the Platypus toolbar:
(For a description of all the functions, click on the Platypus Help button.)
Once you've selected a function, it will stay selected and will be applied every time you left-click on the web page. (The exception is Fix Page, which can only be applied once to the whole page, so it doesn't stay selected.)
The easiest way to select a part of a web page is to move your mouse over the
page. As you move over parts of the web page, you'll see them
Once you've highlighted the right part of the web page, just left-click. When you want to use a different command, go back to the Platypus toolbar and select the new command.
Other Ways to Use Platypus
There are a couple of other alternate ways to use Platypus.
First, when you've highlighted a part of the page you can right-click to bring up a menu of all Platypus commands. This is an easy way to apply a new command without changing the left-click command. For instance, suppose you've selected "Smart Delete" from the Platypus toolbar, and you're in the middle of deleting a bunch of annoying ads. You notice that instead of deleting an add, you'd rather "Erase" it to maintain the page layout. Right-click on the ad and select "Erase". The ad is now erased, and you can the continue using left-click to delete elements.
Second, all of the Platypus commands have keyboard equivalents. These work like the commands on the right-click menu. You can see the keyboard commands by looking at the Platypus help page.
There's also an alternate method for selecting parts of the web page. Instead of pointing with the mouse, you can use the arrow keys. The up arrow key takes you "upward" from the current highlighted element to the one that encloses it. For instance, if you have a row of a table highlighted, then the up arrow key takes you to the table. The down arrow key works the opposite -- it takes you to the first element inside the highlighted element. So if you have a table highlighted, the down key will take you to the first row in the table. The left and right arrow keys take you to the next and previous elements -- from a table row, the right and left keys take you the next and previous rows in the table. This may seem complicated, but if you try it out you'll quickly get the hang of it.
There are some page elements that can't be highlighted because they don't take up any "space" on the page. These include things like the page head, scripts and even some formatting elements like <BR> and <TBODY>. You can't get to these elements with the mouse, but you can navigate to them with the arrow keys. When you do navigate to one of these elements, the highlight will disappear. You can tell what sort of element you're on by looking at the status bar on the bottom of your browser. Platypus tells you the type of element you're focused on their (e.g., "BR" or "SCRIPT"). Even though it isn't highlighted, you can still use all the regular Platypus commands on the element.
The Repair Button
The "Repair" button on the Platypus Toolbar has a special function. It tries to remove all the clutter from a web page, turn off distracting backgrounds, make the text black on white and several other things to improve readability. It doesn't work on all web pages, but it is often a quick and handy way to clean up a web page. Unlike the other Platypus functions, it turns off Platypus after it is done.
Platypus has some advanced commands that can modify web pages in powerful
ways, by applying regular expressions to the web pages, or inserting arbitrary
HTML code. These commands will pop up dialog boxes to guide you through these
changes, as shown in this example for setting the style of a page element:
Saving Your Changes
Platypus automatically keeps track of all the changes you make on a web page until you reload the web page, even if you quit Platypus and restart it. Platypus can save these changes as a script to be applied every time you visit the same web page. To do this, hit the Save button on the Platypus toolbar or type Ctrl-S.
When save your web page changes, Platypus will open the Greasemonkey install dialogue. If you modify the "Include" pages when installing the script, you can apply the same script to other pages. (For example, you might try out your changes on one page of a web site and then apply the script to all the pages on the web site.)
Platypus will turn itself off when you save a script.
If you save your script and then decide to make more changes, re-start Platypus, make the new changes and then re-save the script. As long as you haven't reloaded the web page before restarting Platypus, it will remember all the changes you made and automatically merge them into a single script.
Cancelling Your Changes
You can cancel any changes you've made in Platypus by simply reloading the web page. Your changes will disappear and Platypus will be turned off.
If you've saved a script and change your mind, or want to start over, go into "Manage Scripts" under the Tools menu and uninstall the script. Reload your page and you're back to the original web page.
Hit the 'Q' key or click on the Platypus Toolbar Stop icon at any time to exit Platypus.
The most useful Platypus customization is to place one or more Platypus buttons on your main menu bar. To do this, select View > Toolbars > Customize and drag the Platypus button from the Customize Toolbar dialogue to where you want to place it, or drag one of the buttons from the Platypus toolbar to wherever you'd like to place it. For example, you might want to place the "Smart Remove" button on your main menu bar. Then, whenever you want to Platypus a page, you can click on that button and immediately begin removing parts of the web page. If you have Auto-hide turned on (see below), the Platypus toolbar will automatically pop up once you click on the Platypus button.
The "Repair" button is designed to be used from the menu bar. Because it turns Platypus off when it completes, it's a quick way to fix up a web page and get back to browsing.
It's also possible to adjust the way Platypus handles certain things. If you select Tools > Extensions, click on the Platypus extension, and select Options, you'll see the following options dialogue:
You can select and unselect options to change how Platypus behaves:
- Turn on copious debugging -- You should normally leave this option unchecked; it is primarily used to debug problems.
- Use tabs where possible -- If this is checked, Platypus will open new windows (such as "Help" and "View Source") in tabs instead of windows.
- Auto-install scripts on Ctrl-S -- If this is checked, Platypus will jump directly to the Greasemonkey install dialogue when you save a script. If it is unchecked, Platypus will instead open a new window (or tab) showing the Platypus script; you can then install the script by selecting Tools > Install Script.
- Auto-hide the Platypus toolbar -- If this is checked, Platypus will open the Platypus Toolbar whenever Platypus is started, and hide it again when Platypus is stopped.
- Highlight with red outline -- If this is checked, Platypus will draw a red outline around the selected page element. (Due to a bug in Firefox, some elements cannot be highlighted this way.)
- Highlight with red fill -- If this is checked, Platypus will fill the selected page element with a stippled red color.