Some computer utilities are so helpful that you'll wonder how you lived without them. A clipboard manager is one such tool.
Let's take a look at what the Windows clipboard is, how clipboard managers expand it, and how to get started with them.
What Is the Clipboard?
The clipboard is a temporary storage location present on nearly every operating system. It provides a short-term place for you to keep and transfer pieces of data around your system.
You're probably familiar with the commands Cut, Copy, and Paste. After highlighting the data you want to work with, you can access them by right-clicking or via keyboard shortcuts. They are the primary ways to interact with the Clipboard on your PC:
- Cut (Ctrl + X) removes the content from its current position and places it on your clipboard.
- Copy (Ctrl + C) places a copy of the selected data on your clipboard without changing the original.
- Paste (Ctrl + V) inserts the data currently on your clipboard right where your cursor is.
These functions are extremely useful across your computer. They let you copy a file to another place on your PC, move text from one box to another, add important data to a note-taking app, and much more.
What Does a Clipboard Manager Do?
The default clipboard in Windows works well, but it's quite basic. The biggest limitation is that it can only hold one item at a time. If you copy a piece of text, forget to use it, then copy an image later, the text will be gone. Another hassle is that you can't view what you've copied without pasting it.
For anyone who copies and pastes all the time, these are big problems. Thankfully, this is where clipboard managers come in. They greatly expand the functionality of your clipboard by remembering dozens of entries, allowing you to pin frequently used snippets for easy access, and much more.
The Windows 10 Clipboard Manager
Since Windows 10 version 1809, the OS includes a clipboard manager. If you aren't a power user, this is a great way to try one out without getting overwhelmed. Head to Settings > System > Clipboard to set it up.
Turn the Clipboard history slider on to activate this feature. Once you do, you can use the Win + V shortcut to bring up the clipboard manager. You'll see the last several items that you copied and can select one to paste it into your current document.
Note that this doesn't affect the normal pasting functionality. You can use Ctrl + V at any time to paste the last item you cut or copied without accessing your history.
To keep items that you frequently paste, click the three-dot icon on an item and choose Pin. This will prevent the item from being removed when you clear all history or restart your computer. You can also use this menu to remove something from the clipboard history.
Back on the Clipboard settings page, you can enable Sync across devices if you'd like. This allows you to use your Microsoft account to sync your clipboard history everywhere you use your account. Finally, you can clear all your clipboard data here.
Using a More Advanced Clipboard Manager
The built-in feature for managing your clipboard in Windows 10 is handy. But if you want to go further, you can install a third-party clipboard manager with many more features.
We like ClipClip and think it's a good choice for most people. When you set it up, you can create folders for various Saved Clips such as signatures, canned responses, and addresses. This is a huge time-saver for anyone who types the same content dozens of times per day.
You can also customize the hotkeys that launch it at Settings > Hotkeys. The default is Win + Shift + V but you can change this to whatever works for you.
You'll see the increased functionality as soon as you launch the manager for the first time. There's a search field at the top that allows you to find old pastes. The number keys let you quickly select a recent paste. ClipClip even includes a translation feature that will translate text before pasting it.
In the main app, there's a separate Pinned Clips section that makes it easy to keep snippets you use often. You can also dig into the options to have the app ignore copied files over a certain size, change the maximum number of remembered clips, and more.
It's definitely a powerful app, yet not too complex as to introduce confusion. Try it out if you find the default Windows option lacking.
A Note on Clipboard Manager Security
While extremely useful, clipboard managers can also pose a security risk.
Because they keep a record of all text you've copied, they could potentially reveal sensitive information like passwords, credit card numbers, and personal conversations. Using the sync feature of Windows 10's built-in tool sends your copied text across Microsoft's servers, which can also cause concern, especially if you copy and paste passwords.
When you use a clipboard manager, be careful of what you leave around. It's not a bad idea to open your clipboard manager and delete its history at the end of each day. Alternatively, ClipClip allows you to press Ctrl + Shift + E to disable it temporarily. After pressing this, the app won't record anything you copy until you press the hotkey again.
Clipboard Managers Are Extremely Useful
We hope you now understand how the clipboard works, why clipboard managers are so great, and a bit about what you can do with them. You don't have to worry about losing what you copied earlier and can keep common snippets around permanently.
Give it a try and see how it can enhance your workflow!