The limited functionality of Windows' humble clipboard has long been overshadowed by third-party software. A growing need for additional features has created a rich environment for so-called clipboard managers to gain popularity. If you're a power user, chances are you've been using a clipboard manager for a long time, but that might change soon.
In October 2022, Windows 1809 version 10 brought the long-awaited Clipboard History feature. Obviously inspired by the user experience, Microsoft decided to integrate more functions into its native clipboard. For some users, this will completely remove the need for third-party clipboard managers.
How does it work?
Clipboard history, in a nutshell, allows you to copy multiple items to your clipboard rather than overwriting the last item when another is added. This is the most basic advancement, but more useful features are added as well. Clipboard history will also allow you to pin items, which will then remain in your history, as well as sync your history across devices. This last part is particularly useful for remote work, as it allows quick access to files without having to download or physically transfer them.
The feature is only available for Windows 1809 versions 10 and later, so you may need to update your Windows. To do this, follow the instructions on Microsoft official site. Once you have the latest version, follow these steps:
- Before you can use it, you need to enable clipboard history. To do this, go to Windows Settings and click on System.
- In the System panel, click the Clipboard tab and move the clipboard history slider to "On".
- In the same panel, you can choose whether you want to sync your clipboard with other devices you're signed in to. To do this, move the slider under Sync Across Devices to the “On” position.
An important consideration when using auto-sync is that you'll keep track of everything you copy across all synced devices. This may include sensitive information such as passwords or private images. Be sure to regularly clear your history or turn off auto-sync.
Using Your Clipboard History
Now that it's enabled, access your history by pressing the Windows key and the V key simultaneously. A window will appear showing the items you've cut from newest to oldest. From this panel, click on any of the items to paste it into your application.
Each item will have a Menu button in the form of three horizontal dots in the top left corner. This will open a menu from which you can pin an item to keep it in history when it is cleared. You can also delete items individually or clear all history from the same menu.
Automatic synchronization function
The Windows sync feature can automatically transfer your clipboard history to all the computers you're connected to. Keep in mind that for this to work with clipboard history, all PCs will need to have Windows 10 build 1809 or later.
If you enable this option, the default setting syncs everything you copy, regardless of file type. As the name suggests, automatic synchronization works without any additional action on your part. You also have the option not to synchronize automatically but to do it manually. You can sync individual files from the clipboard window via the drop-down menu.
One consideration is that clipboard history has a size limit of 4MB, so while you can copy items larger than 4MB, they will follow the "last in, first out" protocol.
What if you need more?
Windows Clipboard History certainly adds a lot of functionality to the standard clipboard. However, for some users, even this will not be enough. If you find you need even more features, you might want to look into what's available from third-party developers.
As already mentioned, clipboard managers have long been a staple of productivity enthusiasts, so there's plenty to choose from. If you want to try an all-in-one solution with just about every feature you'll ever need, Clipboard Master is the right choice for you.
This software will really offer more functions than you know what to do with. It supports images, files and text. A built-in search function will allow you to easily find what you are looking for among the 10 entries it can handle. It has a fixed clipboard feature to store the most common items you use for quick access. It even has an encrypted password manager.
If you want to take it a step further, try Clipboard Master.
The Copycat is out of the bag
Microsoft's new clipboard history feature solved a known problem in a very simple and elegant way. The average user will find it more than adequate to streamline their work process, and the no-frills design makes it very easy to use. Of course, some users will want a wider range of functions, and there are certainly plenty of choices out there that outshine Microsoft's added functions.
Do you have a favorite clipboard manager you can't live without? Tell us what it is and why you love it in the comments below.