5 Tips to Manage Your Windows Clipboard Like a Pro | MakeUseOf

The Windows Clipboard. You'll know it better as Copy & Paste, and how students can lift large passages from Wikipedia for their assignments. The Clipboard can be your invaluable ally, saving you loads of typing time, and enabling you to stick pictures on documents and emails at will. Just ask our writer Mihir, whose GIF emails are legendary.

Today we will be looking at ways to manage your clipboard, as well as provide some information on what it is and what you can do with it.

So glad you asked. The clipboard is a function which enables you to copy potentially unlimited amounts of information and / or images; although it will probably slow your system down if you attempt to copy and paste the entire illustrated version of War & Peace all at once. It isn't something unique to Windows. Other operating systems have it as well, albeit with different key combos.

You can copy something by highlighting the desired text, and then activating the clipboard with the keyboard function CTRL + C. To "paste" the copied text and / or images, just CTRL + V it. Easy. Nothing to it.

The Clipboard does have its limitations though. It can only save one thing at a time, so when you CTRL + C something, the clipboard automatically wipes the previous entry. The clipboard is also wiped when the computer is switched off or restarted.

Not anymore. In Windows XP and Windows Vista, the command clipbrd.exe would bring up your clipboard and its contents. However, Microsoft, being the spoilsports that they are, retired the function in Windows 7.

BUT here's the thing: If you have Windows 7, and you can also get access to either XP or Vista, then clipbrd.exe also works on Windows 7 (both 32-bit and 64-bit). So if you miss being able to visit your clipboard, you can move it over to Windows 7. It's easy to do it. On either XP or Vista, just go to the %windir%ystem32 folder, and CTRL+C that sucker over to your Windows 7. Then launch it by typing in clipbrd.exe from the Win+Run command.

Also, this page offers a download link if you want to get the clipbrd.exe file. But it is reported to have mixed results.

The clipboard does not have a "history", and unless you are using a third-party clipboard manager (more on that later), there are three quick ways to wipe your clipboard:

  • Shutting down or restarting the system.
  • CTRL+C some harmless text from say a news website. This will wipe anything you copied before which you may want rid of.
  • Go to a harmless site and press the PrintScreen key. This is a good quick option if you have to leave your computer for a moment and you have someone sitting next to you who might sneak a peek while you are away.

Now for two more ways that involve slightly more work.

The first one is to place a shortcut on the desktop which, when clicked, will wipe your clipboard. It may not start working, however, until you have restarted the system. Here's what to do :

  • Right-click on the desktop and choose > New > Shortcut.

In the shortcut box that now pops up, type the following :

cmd /c "echo off | clip"
  • Click Next and give it a name, such as "Clear Clipboard". Now click Finish.
  • If you right-click on your new shortcut and choose Properties, you can also give the shortcut a logo, and a keyboard shortcut. But those are not necessary for the shortcut to work.

The second option involves diving into the Registry; if the thought unnerves you, don't do this one. If you mess it up, then your whole system could potentially be damaged. But if you are brave enough, you can add a right-click option to your desktop to clear the clipboard:

  • First, open up the Registry and head to:
  • In the left-hand pane, right-click on Shell and select > New > Key, and give it a name. Hey, "Clear Clipboard" is a good name.
  • Right-click on the new Clear Clipboard key, and choose > New > Key and name it Command.
  • Now divert your attention ladies and gentlemen to the right pane. Double-click on Default, choose Modify, and in the Value Data box, give it the following Value Data:
cmd.exe /c echo off | clip
  • Click OK. Press F5 to refresh the registry and shut it down.

You will now see the Clear Clipboard entry in the desktop context menu. Again, you may have to restart the system to get it to work for the first time.

I Really Want to Keep a Clipboard History. Help Me Obi-Wan MUO! You're My Only Hope!

OK, now let's assume that you are one of those Windows users who doesn't care about obsessively deleting their clipboard history, or that perhaps you are irked by the fact that the clipboard only holds one thing at a time. The solution to this? Yes, third-party clipboard managers! Wait, you didn't honestly think Microsoft would give you something like this, did you?

The number of third-party clipboard managers online is simply overwhelming, which makes you wonder why Microsoft doesn't introduce their own official one. As for the third-party clipboard managers, some look really dated (as in XP-looking dated). Here are some more which you might want to check out:

Can I Share Clipboard Content Remotely?

Why yes you can! You're asking lots of good clipboard-related questions today.

For those of you who don't know, a remote computer is, as the name implies, a computer not in your current location. So if you are at home on your personal PC, your work computer would be considered a remote machine (and vice-versa). You can share clipboard information between the two, so if you CTRL+C'd something at work and it is still on the clipboard there, you can access it with your home computer. Both computers obviously have to be on, and have to be Windows PC's.

  • Go to the Start Menu (or press the Windows logo key on the keyboard) and type "Remote Desktop Connection" (without the speech marks). It will then show up, so select it.

  • Go to the Local Resources tab and at the bottom, there are two checkboxes - one of which is for the clipboard. Make sure it is checked.
  • Now connect to the other machine remotely and the clipboard should work as normal. Copy from one, paste to the other.

If it stops working, it is likely due to something called rdpclip.  This little program manages the shared clipboard between your local machine (the one you are currently on) and the remote desktop. However, rdpclip runs on the remote desktop, not the local machine. So if the copy and paste between machines stops working, go to the remote machine, go to the Task Manager, then the Processes Tab, select rdpclip.exe, and click End Process. Now go to the Application Tab, click New Process, type rdpclip, click OK, and you are done.

How many times have you CTRL+C'd something, and discovered that all of the formatting is there too? It can be extremely annoying to have to open a notepad text document, paste the text, then copy the plain text again, just to get the formatting out. Wouldn't it be great if there was a small program that did the job for you? Maybe PureText fits that bill?

PureText will remove all of the rich formatting such as bold, italics, underlining, tables, font colours, embedded objects, and more. However, it will leave some things alone, such as HTML tags or word wrapping. If the actual text is a mess, it will not clean it up for you. It will just strip away the rich text formatting.

So I hope that today we have shown you some of the things that the Windows Clipboard is capable of. Let us know in the comments if you have any other power user tips for the Clipboard or if you know of any software which improves it.

Image Credit: Man With a Checklist - Shutterstock