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A clipboard manager is a computer program that adds functionality to an operating system's clipboard. Many clipboards provide only one buffer for the "copy and paste" function, and it is overwritten by each new "copy" operation. The main task of a clipboard manager is to store data copied to the clipboard in a way that permits extended use of the data.
Clipboard managers enhance the basic functions of cut, copy, and paste operations with one or more of the following features:
- multiple buffers and the ability to merge, split, and edit their contents
- selecting which buffer "cut" or "copy" operations should store data in
- selecting which buffer(s) "paste" operations should take data from
- handling formatted text, tabular data, data objects, media content, and URLs
- saving copied data to long term storage
- indexing or tagging of clipped data
- searching of saved data
Sharing clipboard contents remotely is sometimes done with pastebins.
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Some clipboard managers allow the user to keep multiple clipped objects, available for later use. Some keep a clipping history by automatically making a new buffer for each new cut or copy operation.
Some applications have an internal copy history feature. This has been a standard feature in UNIX editors like vi and emacs for some time.[when?] Recent versions[which?] of Microsoft Office have included the "Office Clipboard", a built-in clipboard manager, which operates as long as one of the Office suite applications is open.
In different systems
The default Microsoft Windows clipboard manager enables pasting the copied data, even after an application is closed, by maintaining the clip buffer itself. Its copying and pasting operations are very versatile in what they permit to be transferred between applications. A range of cells clipped from an Excel sheet can be pasted as a table into MS Word or LibreOffice Writer. Formatted text clipped from a web page will become cells in an Excel sheet, a table in MS Word, or plain text in Text Edit.
Windows versions prior to the Windows 10 October 2018 Update do not offer a copy history feature. In these versions a third-party clipboard manager that replaces the default clipboard is required for extended functionality. The Windows 10 October 2018 Update introduced a new Cloud Clipboard feature which does offer copy history, as well as the ability to sync this history for access on other devices.,
Mac OS X
Mac OS X also has a host of third-party options for clipboard management.
The freedesktop.org Clipboard Manager specification describes a protocol layered on top of the ICCCM clipboard spec for client applications. A daemon process is responsible for storing clipboard contents. This daemon clipboard manager must be provided by the window manager running in the user's X session. The client-side specification has native support in a number of toolkits, including GTK+.
GNOME provides a basic clipboard manager function as part of the gnome-control-center (accessed via the gnome-settings-daemon), that supports the freedesktop.org Clipboard Manager Specification.