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Turbo charge the Windows clipboard

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The clipboard in Windows is a very useful facility and it enables you to copy all sorts of information, such as images, text, hyperlinks, files, and a whole lot more, and then paste them elsewhere. A very common use of the clipboard is for copying some text in a word processor like Word or WordPad and then pasting it somewhere else in the document. Almost every copy and paste operation in almost every Windows program makes use of the clipboard. It also works between programs too, and this means that you can copy some text or an image in a web browser window and paste it into a spreadsheet or document or photo editor. Of course, the program you are pasting the item into needs to be able to use whatever it is you are pasting, such as text into Notepad and not an image, but generally the clipboard is a great feature. Here are some ways to enhance its functionality.

Get a clipboard manager

Clipboard ManagerOne of the clipboard's limitations is that you can only copy one item to it at a time. The next item that you copy replaces the original, which is then lost. Wouldn't it be useful if you could copy several different things to the clipboard and then select the one that you want to paste? There is a Vista/Windows 7 gadget that adds this functionality.

Go and get Clipboard Manager from the Windows Sidebar Gallery. If it doesn't immediately appear on the desktop, right click the desktop and select Gadgets (Windows 7) or start the Sidebar (Vista) and add it. Clipboard Manager shows the most recent items that were copied to the clipboard and you can click any of them to make it the current one and to paste it into a program. The size of the gadget limits the number of clipboard items that are visible, but clicking the More link at the top shows all the items. There is space for 250 by default, but you can have up to 999 if you want.

Portable clipboard

If you use more than one computer, such as a laptop and a desktop or home and work PCs, it might be useful at times if you had one clipboard manager that you could use on both of them. That's the aim of Visual Clipboard. Ignore the desktop and U3 SmartDrive versions and download the portable version for a regular USB drive. (There are Pro and free versions). You just unzip the file and put it on a USB flash memory drive. When the program is run (VisualClipboard.exe), it restores all the items you copied to the clipboard, no matter which PC you copied them on. You just hold down the Ctrl key and click the mouse or press Ctrl+Alt+V to display the VisualClipboard window and then you can select the item you want to paste next from a list. A small desktop widget shows the current clipboard text and you can click the icon to display the clipboard history. It's really useful and it doesn't need installing.

More clipboard utilities

There are lots of clipboard utilities and they all have a slightly different features sets and various functions. Some may suit you more than others and you should so try them out to see which ones you like the best. Many of them are free. Here are just some of the tools you can try out: Clipdiary, ClipMate Clipboard Exender, PasteCopy, and xNeat Clipboard Manager.