Best Free Clipboard Replacement Utility

 
Introduction

The default Windows clipboard has two very obvious limitations: it can store only one item at a time and it is cleared every time the computer restarts. Clipboard replacement utilities will not only solve those problems, they will give you much more power over your clipboard.

These utilities provide a clipboard history and they come with additional features such as built-in text editor, additional information about the clip (date&time, origin), launch actions (such as google search) and more.

Because they replace such a basic system function, clipboard managers have to be simple to use, but that depends on how you use your computer. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to clipboard managers, so I suggest you try some of those freeware products for yourself and find the one that suits you the best.

Here I came up with a list of specifications to evaluate clipboard managers:

  • Simple: Easy to setup and use. It should work as intended right out of the box, without any tweaks.
  • Reliable: It can handle everything the default Windows clipboard can handle. It should be light on resources and fully compatible with the latest versions of Windows.
  • Accessible: Easy to use with cursor-only, keyboard-only or a mix of both. It also needs a nice and clear interface.
  • Powerful and customizable: Provide extra features for advanced users who need more options than simply copy, cut and paste.
 
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Go to details...  Go straight to the Quick Selection Guide

 
Discussion

Ditto is the best clipboard freeware out there and is the only one that fully met my specifications. It's simple yet powerful, extremely fast, light on resources, it stores unlimited clips in a sqlite database and it has hundreds of settings to play with. To name a few of its features: it has a search box that enables you to find a 3-day-old clipboard within seconds; 3 different virtual clipboards that you can access through dedicated shortcuts; and it has unique network capabilities, making clipboard sharing a reality. Ditto is actively developed, it is more robust, efficient and flexible than most of its competitors. It will fit the needs of both beginners and advanced users, no matter how the use their computer. Ditto has been my main clipboard replacement utility for almost two years, and it has never crashed yet.

On the downside, it's difficult to use the stickies feature.

CLCL is a simple and consistent clipboard manager that works particularly well with older windows versions, and is very easy to use with either keyboard or mouse. Its development stopped in 2005, and you have to install it manually, but CLCL's strong supporters are proof that it is worth the trouble.

ClipX is a clean and simple clipboard manager. Plugins are available to bring some interesting features like a color picker to copy the code of a color, stickies (permanent clips), "search in google" feature... It is not developed anymore (the latest beta was released in 2008), but it remains a very good clipboard manager.

Clipboard Help+Spell is a promising clipboard manager, full of features. You can add notes quickly, timestamps, there are powerful text edit features and a spell checker... It is actively developed but it has one major flaw: it does not handle anything else than text.

ArsClip is a good option for those looking for a portable clipboard manager. In the zip file, you'll find the portable version, the setup.exe and the source code.

Some users may be looking for specific features, so I decided to make a the list of the features I liked when reviewing clipboard freeware. No freeware includes all this features altogether, but I hope that having this list will make it easier for you to understand what you really want in a clipboard manager.

  • Searchbox, permanent clips ("stickies"), groups and notes.
  • Text editor: change case (lower case, upper case), find & replace, check spelling, paste as plain text, add notes, remove formatting/code.
  • Remember context of clips : time, date, application from where it was copied, webpage from where it was copied. Additionally, copy timestamp.
  • Export clips: create .txt file, print clips, send by mail, share through network.
  • Custom action: Google a clip, launch URL, launch application, open file.
  • Security: disable clipboard monitoring in specific applications, during a specific period of time, allow programs to delete last entry, allow user to delete specific clips, password protect the database.
  • Append and merge clips, either before or after capture.
  • Graphic editor and screenshot capabilities.
  • Extract the content of a textfile or a graphic file to the clipboard.
  • Change type of pasting (ctrl+v, shift+inser...) and actions, to accommodate special needs.

There are way too many clipboard managers out there to describe them all.

List of the clipboard managers I tested for this review: 101 clips (aka M8 free clipboard aka 25 clips), ArsClip, CLCL, Clipboard Help+Spell, Clipboard magic, Clipboard manager (agatasoft), Clipboard Recorder (lw-works), Clipboardic, Clipcube, Clipcycler, Clipguru, Clipmagic, Clipomatic, Cliptorrent, Cliptray, Clipx, Copycat, Ditto, Flashpaste lite, Hovtext, Insideclipboard, Memoclip, Multiclipboard, Pastecopy.net, phraseexpress, Sanvient, Shapeshifter, Tenclips, Yankee Clipper III, xNeat Clipboard manager.

Another list can be found in Clipboard Help + Spell help.

Phraseexpress is worth noting, although clipboard history is not its main feature. This productivity tool can help you assign abbreviations to your favorite expressions, correct your spelling on the go, launch programs or actions with a keyword... It also stores and organize your most used expressions. Another similar freeware is Flashpaste lite.

If you feel like your favorite clipboard manager didn't get the attention it deserved, feel free to drop a comment to explain why you feel so and I'll make sure to test it!

 
Related Products and Links

You might want to check out these articles too:

 
Quick Selection Guide

Ditto
4.5
 
Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Many features, unlimited clips, fast search, multi-user network sync, excellent cursor-only navigation
Stickies management
http://ditto-cp.sourceforge.net/
3.18.46.0
3.12 MB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Open source freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Windows 2000 - Windows 7

v3.18.46.00 released 8 November, 2012
View the changelog here

CLCL
3.5
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Simple, reliable, accessible, plugins available. Excellent cursor-only navigation. Excellent for older versions of windows.
Manual setup, development discontinued
1.1.2
0.2 MB
Open source freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Windows 2000 - Windows 7

v1.1.2 released 11 February, 2005

ClipX
3.5
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Lightweight, easy, plugins available
Development discontinued, poor cursor-only navigation
http://bluemars.org/clipx/
1.0.3.8
109 KB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Unrestricted freeware
A portable version of this product is available but not from the developer.
Windows 2000 - Windows 7

v1.0.3.8 stable released 30 November, 2005
v1.0.3.9 beta released 6 July, 2008 here

Clipboard Help+Spell
3
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Lots of features, actively developed
Text-only, poor cursor-only navigation
2.19.1
3.69 MB
Unrestricted freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Windows 2000 - Windows 7

v2.19.1 released 12 June, 2013

ArsClip
2.5
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Clip edition, permanent clips enabled by default, excellent portable version, categories, remembers what application a specific clip comes from, many options
Non-text clips not enabled by default, doesn't handle file copying.
4.11
1.84 MB
Open source freeware
This product is portable.
Windows 2000 - Windows 7

v4.11 released 26 June, 2013
v4.12 test 2 available here

 
Editor

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Tags

Clipboard, clips, copy, paste, ctrl+c, ctrl+v

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Average: 4.1 (24 votes)
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Comments

by netmad on 17. February 2014 - 11:33  (114499)

Isn't security and trustworthiness the most important thing in a clipboard manager?
It's quite likely personal and/or sensitive information will pass through it...

Sorry, haven't had time to read through the comments.

by gzwul62a on 5. October 2013 - 11:40  (111256)

It is a matter of taste, I guess, but personally I do like a clipboard manager that has an "Explorer"-like interface, like Clipboard Help and Spell.

Have been using this tool for a couple of weeks now and I can really recommend it.

The latest version is dated June 12, 2013 (not 2012, as stated above) and the developer is now working on v2.20.01 Beta - Aug 31, 2013.

Actually, after checking a *lot* of other clipboard managers, I have not found any other 'free' tool with an "Explorer-layout".
(About the rating, personally, I think that 3 stars is slightly underrated considering all its features, 4 stars would be more suitable)

by dynamite00401 on 5. October 2013 - 17:38  (111263)

Thank you for pointing out the typo above. I have corrected the error. Also, our ratings might be a wee bit behind because there is currently no Editor for this category. We hope to fix that as soon as possible.

by rhittzer on 22. September 2013 - 12:09  (110917)

i do not recommend DITTO. for some reason i get spikes in the performance tab and the sound gets all choppy. not to mention anything video slows down. what in the world is it doing?

by gzwul62a on 24. July 2013 - 9:17  (109550)

You are (of course) right and I am very sorry. Whilst writing my post, I did not think of it. Again, sorry...

by Anupam on 24. July 2013 - 9:25  (109551)

Thanks for the understanding. No problem.

by gzwul62a on 24. July 2013 - 8:53  (109548)

Before selecting software, I tend to spend a LOT of time on comparing on Internet. I mostly donot install all he stuff.
For me the following is importance:
- The developer should be dedicated to only develope this piece of software (or maybe one or two other products)
i.e. it should not be one of a big list like Clipboard Magic at cybermatrix
- It should have a userfriendly graphical interface
- The developer should have an active forum
- The history should show that the product is actively maintained and updated
- It should get high rankings on Internet/positive usercomments

The focus seems to be on 'free' software.
Frankly, I donot care to pay for software that I am constantly using. If it is free, fine, but if a small fee is required, no problem.

Above were the criteria for me to buy a license on [commercial software] some 10 years ago.
[commercial software] is sill an outstanding product. For me the price of 35 dollar has been worth every cent.
It seems though that the development has come to a standstil.
The forum has gone quiet - the developer's last respond was over a month ago.

Found [commercial software], but nothing happened after jan.2011 (dec.2011 were a few minor fixes and added languages).
I'd like to view the thumbnails in a (much) larger format.
Ditto: how to increase the thumbnails? they are soo small.

A clipboard manager should be able to merge various text clips.
It should be able to do things like replacing tabs with spaces.
Store the database on a userdefined location (and create backups)
Browse through clips (show them in a readable way, like in a preview)
Am now checking out Clipboard Help+Spell (v.2.18.1), looks nice.

by Anupam on 24. July 2013 - 9:06  (109549)

This site is about freeware. We will appreciate if you keep the discussion to free software only. We will not allow discussion/references to commercial software. All mentions and related content for commercial software have been removed from the comment above.

by Hondoe1950 on 23. July 2013 - 16:30  (109525)

The editor of this page is incorrect. Clipboard Help & Spell is fully capable of copying and pasting images as well as text.

In fact, this is an extraordinary program, with a vast feature set.

by Anupam on 23. July 2013 - 18:11  (109531)

There is no editor currently for this category. So, some of the information might be a bit outdated. Please bear with us :).

by dynamite00401 on 6. July 2013 - 18:20  (109008)

re: clipX, As of this date the developers site is up. Also the softpedia download link is 404. The links above are working now. Thanks

by Joe A.TT on 25. June 2013 - 19:43  (108722)

I know there's currently no editor for this software category, however, I'd like to report that the link for ClipX ( http://bluemars.org/clipx/ ) is either dead or down.

Anyone interested can still get ClipX at Softpedia ( http://www.softpedia.com/get/Office-tools/Clipboard/ClipX.shtml )

by MidnightCowboy on 25. June 2013 - 23:59  (108725)

Thanks for pointing this out. I notice the link to the developer's home page from Softpedia is also down but hopefully this is a temporary glitch. For now though I've changed our download link to point to the Softpedia page. MC - Site manager.

by k81689 on 1. April 2013 - 22:53  (106734)

I use Mouse extensively(Chrome+Pig ToolBox).
I want something like 7-zip alike mouse submenu in File Explorer filename rename mode.
Rename file name and right click -> choose VaporWare C&P
-> submenu shows a list of C&P history -> choose one -> paste

Have not found a programs here work on rename/Win FIle Explorer.

I like to put some important information in file name, so I can grep keywords to find the files(Milion+) I want fast.

As to my tiny review,
I found "MiniCLIP 2002 by R. Voska" and ArsClip useful.
MiniCLIP can be placed inside taskbar and scroll to choose paste.

ArsClip can init popup menu by pressing and holding right mouse click, then choose one.

by Panzer on 30. March 2013 - 9:09  (106653)

CopyQ is advanced clipboard manager with searchable and editable history with support for image formats, command line control and more:
http://code.google.com/p/copyq/

by Panzer on 19. February 2013 - 9:19  (105545)

MyClip is a lightweight, yet handy application designed to help you manage your clipboard entries. It allows you to edit clipboard entries, insert items in the clipboard and modify the clipboard text.

Additionally, you can join or revert clipboard items, search the clipboard and set hotkeys for all the commands to ease your work:
http://myclipapp.weebly.com/index.html
http://www.softpedia.com/get/Office-tools/Clipboard/MyClip.shtml

by jimcarter1959 on 27. December 2012 - 19:26  (104027)

I have no idea how Ditto performs aside from it's use under Windows 8. The application exhibits a bizarre behavior. It's possible to delete a clip from Ditto's list, but still have the clip PASTED when pressing CTRL-V. I'd offer an opinion about a better freeware app (under Windows 8), but a previous post was rejected for some unknown reason. [Moderators comment: All references to commercial software are removed to deter spam. Please read the rules before posting]

by crombierob on 30. March 2013 - 10:44  (106655)

With Win 7, MS started using smoke and mirrors, presenting us with alternate views (in Windows Explorer) of a single folder. Also I believe they maintain 'duplicate' folders that can be updated, yet the original is not. I may not be describing it accurately, but they are doing things which break my 'KISS' rules.
I wonder if something similar is contributing to the problems you are experiencing ?
Perhaps try experimenting with some of these -
- 'Run as Administrator'
- 'Run for all users'
- Using Compatibility mode, such as Win XP
- Are you using the matching 32 bit or 64 bit Ditto ?
- Have you tried both the Install, and the portable versions ?
I only have 32 bit PCs, and I use Win 7 very rarely (I don't like the directions they are taking), so please forgive any lack of precision in my suggestions.

by thisnameistaken (not verified) on 25. November 2012 - 17:26  (102891)

I like " YANKEE CLIPPER III " THE BEST . Very simple and not buggy, can do everything. Pictures etc and can combine everything top to bottom or vice versa then load in editor and save as one file.

You might consider adding to your list.

by thisnameistaken (not verified) on 21. November 2012 - 20:29  (102695)

Does anyone know of one where you can export your saved texts all in one batch like exporting bookmarks in firefox? I want to save all my clippings so I don't lose them.

by arto65 on 21. November 2012 - 22:41  (102701)

Yes, ditto will allow you to do that very easily. You can:
1) right click on ditto, then "export clips" and save the file anywhere you want.
2) backup the database (usually located at C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Ditto\Ditto.db)

by thisnameistaken (not verified) on 25. November 2012 - 17:24  (102889)

Thanks for your response buddy!

But when 1 try to export a "group" , which is what I intended to use the software for, and then open the export file of a group or re-import back to ditto, I get an error message.

I've tried evertyhing, but I cannot export a group then have it open or re-import.

by posypicks (not verified) on 12. October 2012 - 16:26  (100702)

I am looking for a SIMPLE clipboard program. Just something that I can put more than one item on the clipboard. I don't need a lot of extra features. I am not tech savvy, & don't understand the tech terms,so the more features it has just makes it harder for me.

Do you know of a program like this? I would appreciate any suggestions.
Thanks

by Jimbo (not verified) on 17. October 2012 - 1:26  (100877)

You might consider Clipboard Magic from http://www.cybermatrix.com/clipboard_magic.html

It's very simple, and meets my needs. I'm not affiliated with cybermatrix in any way- just a satisfied user.

by arto65 on 12. October 2012 - 17:08  (100703)

Hey, well the top suggestions will easily meet your needs.
Ditto is the best clipboard manager, it's simple and straightforward, yet very powerful.
ClipX might also be a good option, if you don't copy/paste with mouse only.

by John Patton (not verified) on 18. September 2012 - 19:37  (99441)

The most beautifully implemented one has not yet been featured. And it doesn't change your existing habbits.

Could you take a look at it?

http://flamefusion.net/software/shapeshifter

by arto65 on 18. September 2012 - 21:06  (99445)

I did try shapeshifter a while ago (2010 or early 2011), and it made a strong impression on me about two things: 1) It was by far the most beautiful clipboard software I had ever seen, and 2) it was buggy as hell :-).
The downloaded file being only 470ish KB, I was impressed, until it downloaded additional files and update my .net framework. That makes it for a painfully lengthy process, most of all when you install from a USB key with no internet access.
Well... now it asks to reboot the computer, and my girlfriend is begging me to go to sleep. Soooo, I guess my first impressions will be for another day.

by Dragan (not verified) on 16. September 2012 - 18:13  (99338)

Hello, nice article about clipboard managers, thanks! You may try Keepboard as well: http://sourceforge.net/projects/keepboard/

Cheers

by arto65 on 18. September 2012 - 20:55  (99444)

Wow, nice look and feel, and coming from a java application!
I'll take it for a more thorough test, but here are my first impressions: it's responsive, the customization seems easy, the tabs concept is great and could be further expanded, the preview window below feels like a great addition though I hoped it would be more than a preview window.
One of the set of features I miss from ditto is an advanced text editor that can trim strings, find&replace, convert case to lower case or uppercase...
Overall, great work!

by gggirlgeek (not verified) on 15. September 2012 - 12:51  (99297)

I have been using Ditto for years and have never found a replacement for it. I guess it has changed the way I use my computer and I depend on it for archived information and memory jogging. I allow 1000 items to be saved, and that comes in handy, trust me!

However, for the past year or so it's been a bit annoying. In some dialogs it won't paste directly to the input field. When I double click or hit Enter on the desired clip the open window jumps to the background and I end up clicking the window behind it. Conveniently, it strikes in the programs I use all day long, such as Explorer, Regedit, and Chrome. :-/

I can't figure out what's changed though. I went back to an older version with the same result. I've tried toggling every setting in the program. The only significant change I've made is upgrading to x64. I don't remember these problems on my 32bit system, but when I booted it to test it did the same thing. I'm stumped!

The other must-have utilities that are on all of my computers are SuperCopier, Everything, Volumouse, procexp, Evernote, and f.lux. I really couldn't cope without any of these but, since they are the common denominator, I wonder if something's not pleased with Ditto....

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