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The Two Approaches
To Clipboard Extenders

There are two basic approaches to Windows Clipboard extenders, and which one you choose will impact on what type of clipboard extender will be best for you:

  • Memory-based extenders take the same approach to expanding the Windows Clipboard that Microsoft does - that is, they store extra clipboard items in memory. The drawbacks of this approach are that if your PC crashes or you need to reboot, then all the data you have in the extender is lost in the same way you lose your Windows Clipboard data; and - ultimately - the extent to which you can extend the clipboard depends on the amount of free memory you have available to allocate to the task.
  • Database-based extenders, on the other hand, store your clips in their own databases rather than in memory. Using external databases overcomes the problems of lost data on power outages and the size of your clip queue being limited by available memory (well, unless you clip a file that's very, very big). But against this, database clip queues are marginally slower to access than pure memory-based ones and the size of your clip queue is ultimately determined by the amount of disk space you're willing to devote to storing your clip file.

These's no one right answer for all situations, which is why clipboard programmers choose to go down one path or the other.

But when you choose a clipboard extender it might pay to bear in mind that in the end you'll need to trade off either memory or hard disk space, and the one that you select will determine the functionality of the extender you wind up using.

Other Windows Clipboard Resources

Windows Clipboards
Background: A clipboard is a software program that allows you to temporarily store data so that it can be copied from one program to another.

Clipboards are a feature of GUI (Graphical User Interface) software like Windows and they usually make use of a temporary block of memory that can be accessed by most (or all) the other programs you're running so that data can be copied and pasted between them.

Windows has come with a clipboard ever since it was first released, but the sophistication of its clipboard has advanced quite a bit over the years.

Early clipboards were only capable of  collecting, storing and passing on lines of plain text. But contemporary clipboards can collect, store and pass very complex blocks of data indeed. These can include spreadsheet blocks (with all formulas attached), images and blocks of highly marked-up word processing text and/or HTML.

Probably the biggest complaint Windows users have had with the Windows Clipboard is that it only stores a single item at a time. When you add a new item to the clipboard (usually by pressing CTRL+C or CTRL+Insert) it will overwrite anything that's already there. This means that copying multiple items from one document to another is always a multi-step process.

The obvious solution to this is a clipboard that's capable of storing more than one item at a time. And over the years several hundred of these have been invented.

Ironically, Microsoft saw the wisdom of this themselves when they included a Clipboard Manager with Windows 2000 and XP. But for reasons best known to themselves, they dropped the Clipboard Manager from Vista and went back to the old single-item clipboard that had featured in all past Windows releases.

In any event, if you want a better clipboard than the one that Microsoft provide, there are plenty to choose from. And here are six that we think are better:


Popular Windows Clipboards
Aaron Curtis' QClip is a cleverly-designed Windows Clipboard enhancement that we like quite a lot. Rather than replace the Windows Clipboard, QClip runs beside it and stores the last 10 items you added (you can modify this number by setting QClip's preferences). QClip itself doesn't need installation - it runs straight off its own .exe file - so you can easily port it to USB drives or other computers if you want. And it doesn't interfere with the Windows Registry or pose many demands on system resources either. You run it by simply clicking on the .exe (or if you want it to run when you start Windows, by placing a shortcut to QClip's .exe in your Startup folder). When launched, QClip will place an icon in the system tray. Right-clicking the icon will allow you to exit the program or access the program's Preferences dialog. Most interaction however, is done through keyboard shortcuts very much like the Windows Clipboard itself. Some of the things we particularly liked about QClip are its short learning curve; the intelligent way it manages multiple clips; its ability to cut and paste between almost any software applications; its ability to auto-save and auto-restore a queue of clips between sessions; and the ability to set it to store a list of commonly-used clips (very handy if you work in a legal office or any other environment where you're constantly pasting standard paragraphs into documents or emails). QClip runs on all versions of Windows from Win95 to XP and is distributed as freeware under the GNU Public Licence. Get QClip


Mike Linn's Clipomatic is another very good Windows Clipboard extender very similar to QClip (above). Clipomatic is a simple clipboard utility that monitors what you put into the Windows Clipboard and saves copied items for future use. It runs in the system tray and it's both simple to learn and easy to use. Clipomatic can capture items in any format and it uses user-definable hotkeys to paste the items that it stores (just put your cursor where you want to paste an item and press CTRL+ALT+V instead of the Windows Clipboard CTRL+V - Clipomatic will pop up a menu of your saved clips and you can then simply select the one you want. But if you're already CTRL+ALT+V for something else, you can change the key combination to whatever you like). The cache where the clipboard items are stored can also be expanded by accessing additional settings in the software's right-click options. Like QClip, you can save sets of clippings in separate files too (and it's easy to swap amongst different clipping sets). This means you can quickly paste presaved text that suits a particular category of work, which is a genuine time-saver for many people. The one drawback we could find with Clipomatic is that it doesn't have Unicode support (ie support for non-English characters). But what it does, it does well. Clipomatic runs on all versions of Windows from Win95 to XP and it's freeware. Get Clipomatic


If you're looking for a more advanced Windows Clipboard replacement, then MJTNet's multi award-winning ClipMagic is well worth your inspection. As with QClip and Clipomatic (above), ClipMagic sits alongside your Windows Clipboard and monitors what you put into it. Where it differs from both of these, however, is its ability to store larger volumes of data; to allow you to set up rules and filters for the data you clip so that your clips are automatically stored in categories you specify; and to perform far more operations with your clips once you've snared them. ClipMagic has a Paste Picker that makes the process of selecting from multiple potential paste items quick and easy; inbuilt support for text formatting and URLs (ClipMagic even has inbuilt Internet Explorer browser and email support, in case you want to browse from and/or email content you've just clipped). The software also lets you search clips. And if you have Microsoft Office installed on your PC, it has a spell-checker too! Naturally - with this many features - the learning curve on ClipMagic is a little longer than other clipboard extenders. But it's not particularly hard to master and you can get productive with the software quickly, then explore its more advanced capabilities at your own pace. ClipMagic runs on all versions of Windows from Win95 to Vista and it's freeware. We also think it's pretty cool. Get ClipMagic


If you're looking for a clipboard extender you can use in a networked office environment, then Ditto may be the solution you're seeking. Like other software reviewed on this page, Ditto monitors the Windows Clipboard and saves any data you can put into the clipboard in its own files. Unlike other clipboard software, though, Ditto is designed to work over a network so it has features none of the other programs we review here do. These include the ability to keep the clipboards of multiple computers in synch and the ability to encrypt any data sent over a network. Ditto has an easy to use interface and it uses the database to store data, so you can search previously copied entries quite easily. It can be accessed from a tray icon or by a hotkey, and pasting can be easily accomplished by double-clicking any item in its stored clip list; by hitting the Enter key; or by drag and drop. Ditto also has full Unicode and UTF-8 support and is available in 14 language versions including English and Japanese. The software is regularly updated and very robust, and apart from the network version is also available in a portable version too. Ditto runs on all versions of Windows from Win98 to XP/20023 and it's distributed as open source freeware. Get Ditto


If you simply want to keep a reusable history of your Windows Clipboard entries, then Softvoile's Clipdiary may be the ideal solution. This program stores all your Windows Clipboard entries in a database (as either plain text, rich text, BMP images, html or files) and lets you access them again hours, days, months or even years later. ClipDiary runs on Windows startup and can be accessed at any time from a system tray icon or by pressing a hotkey (the default is CTRL+D). You can easily select any item from its history list for pasting into another application or to return back to your Windows Clipboard cache, and it also includes a simple screenshot capture utility too. ClipDiary isn't elaborate software but it's very easy to learn and the version we tried seemed to be quite robust (technically, ClipDiary was still in beta at the time of our review). You can also make suggestions for future improvements to the software through Softvoile's dedicated support forum. ClipDiary runs on Windows (2000, XP, 2003 or Vista) and it's freeware. Get ClipDiary


101 Clips
Last of all, if you just want a quick and simple Windows Clipboard extender, One O One Software's 101 Clips (which is also known as the M8 Free Clipboard) is a very simple clipboard that stores the last 25 items you added to the Windows Clipboard and allows you to restore them by simply clicking on any clip you want. 101 Clips stores both images and text and it also lets you set a function key to restore and paste a clipboard item (just type the individual clip's letter). 101 clips allows you to preview any clip in its stack by moving your mouse over it - which is particularly handy if you've clipped a lot of images, though the previewer will also display text items - and it incorporates a simple screen capture utility too. 101 Clips isn't an elaborate program, but against this it's very simple to learn and does what it says it does without any fuss. 101 Clips runs on all versions of Windows from Win95 to XP/2003 and it's freeware. Get 101 Clips.


This page last updated: 12-Nov-2008


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