Managing Your Mac Clipboard with iClip

Scissors, ruler, pen

Our family switched from PC to Mac almost four years ago. On the whole, there haven’t been a lot of things that I missed about being a PC user. But one that immediately stood out to me was the lack of a good clipboard manager on the Mac. I’m constantly copying and pasting different things in my work, and it’s not uncommon for me to try to paste something only to discover that I’d already copied over it. So I would have to go back to the original thing, copy it, and then paste it again. That or—the horror!—I’d have to type it again.

I’d experimented with a few different pieces of software over the years to help me manage a clipboard, but none of them stuck until I discovered iClip a few months ago. Once installed and running in the background, iClip quietly records everything that I copy on its (predictably titled) “Recorder.”

screenshot of iClip's software

The most recent item that I’ve copied is placed at the top of the Recorder, and every other entry shifts down. Pasting something that I copied previously is as simple as clicking the lower of the two arrows, which points toward the main portion of my screen. I can also click and drag the copied item (text, images, you name it) to where I’d like to paste it.

The Recorder lives off to one side of my screen, and I can pull it up either by moving my mouse to the edge of the screen or by using a keyboard shortcut. As you may remember, I like to create keyboard shortcuts for EVERYTHING (including keyboard shortcuts for Google’s tools), so I’ve set up iClip to appear when I hit Control-Space. The result is that the software tends to stay out of my way but is easy to pull up when I need it. iClip gets even better with some customizable hot keys. Hitting Option-Command-V pulls up a numbered verison version of the Recorder.

screenshot of iClip software
Now I can simply type the number of the clip that I want, and it will be pasted without my having to ever touch the mouse or trackpad. It’s a small thing, but it’s very welcome when I’m writing and don’t want to be interrupted.

A final feature that’s worth bragging on is the ability to create different sets of clips that you can paste from. If you find yourself using the same text over and over again in emails or when writing an article, you could paste it to a “Correspondence” or “Article” set. You can create as many as you’d like. I don’t find myself using this feature since I use text expansion tools to help me type smarter. But if you don’t want to shell out for something like TextExpander, iClip might just cover both bases for you.

iClip isn’t perfect. I would like, for example, to start typing while invoking the tool and have it narrow down just the clips that fit that text string. And while most of my needed clips show up on the screen, I occasionally have to scroll down through the Recorder, and there doesn’t seem to be a keyboard shortcut for that. But on the whole, I’m very pleased with the app. I bought it when it was only $10 on the Mac App Store; it’s $19 now, but you can download a trial version and give it a test run for 15 days.

There are, of course, other applications for managing clips on the Mac. One of the most popular is PTHPasteboard. Do you use PTHPasteboard or any other clip manager on your Mac? Let us know which you like best in the comments! Windows and Linux users, please share your favorites as well!

Lead image: Scissors are good to cut balsa sticks… / Bill Abbott / CC BY-SA 2.0

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