Clipboard is a fundamental component in any version of Window that makes copy/paste thing happen between different programs. It’s embedded very closely in the operating system and runs so transparently that normally you don’t need to do anything except the essential copy (Ctrl+C) and paste (Ctrl+V) function that you can find from almost all programs. But here I found a few tips that you may find useful to use this basic function more effectively.
Tip #1: Viewing what’s in the Clipboard
There used to be a windows built-in tool called Clipbrd.exe that allows you to view what’s in the Clipboard, including both text and images, in the previous version of Windows like XP or Vista. But it doesn’t exist in Windows 7 anymore. However, the tool seems to be compatible with Windows 7, both 32-bit and 64-bit, so you can easily copy a version of Clipbrd.exe file from %windir%\system32 folder in XP or Vista machine to the same folder in your Windows 7. And simply launch it by typing in Clipbrd.exe from the Run command.
And here is what Clipbrd.exe revealed in the system clipboard which is the screenshot I just took.
Tip #2: Copying the entire text file content into the clipboard without opening it
Windows also has an executable file called Clip.exe that basically redirects output of command line tools to the windows clipboard. For example, running the following command in Dos Prompt window
dir | clip
places the list of the files from DIR command into the windows clipboard so that you can later paste into an editor to either save or print out. Or, running
clip < readme.txt
places the entire content of the readme file into the clipboard. Or, running
clip << readme.txt
actually append the entire content of the readme file to what’s already in the clipboard.
Tip #3: Sharing Clipboard between local computer and remote desktop session.
Clipboard feature by default is enabled so that you can easily copy/paste the content between local and remote computers. In most cases, you want it to be on all the time to make your life easier. But in case you need it, you can switch the feature on and off from the Local Resource under options in Remote Desktop Client.
Tip #4: Sharing Clipboard between local and Windows virtual machines
Again, the feature is turned on by default but in case you need it, you can turn it on and off from Windows Virtual Machine settings, under Integration Features.
Note that in order to share the clipboard from a Windows Virtual Machine, make sure Enable Integration Features is checked, or the feature would not be enabled, even though it was enabled in the settings.
Tip #5: Pasting the text from Clipboard in plain text
PureText is a deadly simple portable tool that doesn’t only one thing, strip out all the fancy styles applied onto the Text and paste them into anyplace where it fits. It’s one of the essential tools that I have on any computer that I am using. I just can’t express enough how much I love this little guy. You can simply put its executable file PureText.exe in to the Startup folder so that it launches automatically during the login. And you should assign an easy access hotkey so that you can easily use it whenever needed. For example, I assigned Ctrl + G, a hotkey that is not used by any other program, to be used for pasting the pure plain text so whenever I need a plain text without any formatting I can just press Ctrl+G.
Tip #6: Going beyond by adding the history to the clipboard
The limitation of using Windows Clipboard is that you can only paste the last content you copied early. It doesn’t provide a history type of thing in it, which is why there are a lot 3rd party tools developed to fill this gap. Here are three of them that are FREE: ClipCube is a tiny clipboard history tool for Windows. It sits in the system tray quietly recording copied text for later use. It’s got a very easy to use interface and is a portable tool that doesn’t require the installation.
Clipboard Manager is a clipboard tool that manages clipboard history and gives you access up to 20 texts previously copied to the clipboard, using the usually idle CapsLock key, a tray icon, or a hotkey of your choice. It offers a little more options than Clipcube, like text filtering and fixing of multiline browser linkes, etc.
Shapeshifter is the only tool out of three that can manage the images in the clipboard history. It seems to be a more advanced clipboard manager that offers much more features and may be more suitable for the typical power user.
However, using these 3rd party Clipboard History managing tool may conflict with the routine copy/paste function. In my case particularly, they don’t get along with PureText well. So to balance the need, I actually prefer PureText a little bit more on my computer.
Last updated: 10/17/2014