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

This software review is copy-edited by Ian Richards. Please help edit and improve this article by clicking here.

 
Tags

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

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Comments

by Remy on 9. July 2014 - 9:38  (117240)

I tried almost all clipboards but after a while I uninstalled them again.
CopyQ is one of the best i.m.o.
But a few weeks ago I found another clipboard.
It is one of the best I've had till now :)
Clibor. The creator is japanese I believe.
http://www.softpedia.com/get/Office-tools/Clipboard/Clibor.shtml

by conceptualclarity on 2. May 2014 - 15:58  (116003)

I regret that I got Ditto. Retrieving clips that are way down the line is simply a nightmare. People should be warned of that. Clipboard Help+Spell is a lot easier to retrieve from.

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

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