Clipboard manager

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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 richer 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.

Copy history[edit]

Most 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[edit]


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 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 does not offer a copy history feature. Users wanting this function use a third-party clipboard manager that replaces the default clipboard.

Name License
Ace Clipboard Freeware
Ditto Freeware
Spartan Clipboard Manager Commercial

Mac OS X[edit]

Mac OS X also has a host of third-party options for clipboard management.

CopyPaste was the first (1997) multiple clipboard utility, the only for many years and is still actively developed. (Shareware) CopyPaste was first reviewed in 1997 by Tidbits.[1]

Ten more are presented in a 2009 review article.[2] A few of these are also mentioned in a paragraph of a 2014 article.[3] From this list are:

  • ArchiveClipboard [4] (free)
  • ClipMenu (freeware)
  • Clipper
  • Clyppan [5] (commercial)
  • Clipboard Evolved [6] (commercial)
  • Copy Paste Pro [7] (commercial)
  • Cute Clips [8] (commercial)
  • iClip - product withdrawn from the market
  • Flycut Free in the App Store,[9] Open source, fork of JumpCut [10]
  • JumpCut [11] (free, open source, 2011)
  • Paste Clipboard Manager (commercial)[12]
  • PTHPasteboard [13] - product withdrawn with osx10.10 (commercial)
  • Savvy Clipboard [14] (commercial)
  • Stuf [15] (commercial)

Clipboard managers for Mac OS X use the Dock, status bar or Dashboard to integrate with the Mac Look and Feel.


The Clipboard Manager specification[16] 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+.

The Linux desktop environment KDE ships with Klipper.

GNOME provides a basic clipboard manager function as part of the gnome-control-center (accessed via the gnome-settings-daemon), that supports the Clipboard Manager Specification.

Other clipboard managers available are:

Name License GUI Notes
xclipboard MIT/ Athena part of the X Window System
Klipper GPL KDE support automatic processing
Glipper LGPL Gnome support network sync
Parcellite GPLv3 GTK lightweight

See also[edit]