Clipboard manager

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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.

Copy history[edit]

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[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 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 Notepad. In Windows 10 and above, the clipboard manager can be accessed with the keyboard shortcut Win + V.

ClipBook Viewer is a discontinued utility included in the Windows NT family until the release of Windows Vista.

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.[1]

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.[2] and also by WIRED.[3]

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[4] 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.

List of clipboard software[edit]

Notable clipboard software include:

Name Operating System License
CLCL Windows Freeware
ClipX Windows Freeware
Diodon Ubuntu, Unity Open Source (GPL)
Glipper Unix-like (GTK) Open Source (LGPL)
Klipper Unix-like (KDE) Open Source (GPL)
Parcellite Unix-like, OS X Open Source (GPL)
Shapeshifter Windows Freeware


  1. ^ "Find out what's new in Windows and Office in October". 2 October 2018.
  2. ^ "TidBITS#364/03-Feb-97".
  3. ^ "WIRED/01-Jun-97".
  4. ^ "clipboard-manager-spec".