Best Free Clipboard Replacement Utility

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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 and 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.

 

Rated Products

Ditto  

The best clipboard that's simple yet powerful, extremely fast and light on resources


Our Rating: 
4.5
License: Free (Open source)
Many features, unlimited clips, fast search, multi-user network sync, excellent cursor-only navigation.
Stickies management.
Read full review...

CLCL  

A simple and consistent clipboard manager that is very easy to use with either keyboard or mouse


Our Rating: 
4
License: Free (Open source)
Simple, reliable, accessible, plugins available. Excellent cursor-only navigation.
Plug-ins require a separate download and setup.
Read full review...

ClipX  

A clean and simple clipboard manager, with plugins to bring some interesting features


Our Rating: 
3.5
License: Free
Lightweight, easy to use, plugins available.
Development discontinued, poor cursor-only navigation.
Read full review...

Clipboard Help+Spell  

A promising clipboard manager with notes, spellcheck and full of features


Our Rating: 
3.5
License: Free
Lots of features, actively developed.
Text-only, poor cursor-only navigation.
Read full review...

ArsClip  

A portable and open-source clipboard manager to keep track of clip entries


Our Rating: 
2.5
License: Free (Open source)
Clip edition, permanent clips enabled by default, excellent portable version, categories, remembers what application a specific clip comes from, many options.
Poor user interface, non-text clips not enabled by default, doesn't handle file copying.
Read full review...

Other Clipboard Managers

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

List of other clipboard managers I tested but not rated in this review: 101 clips (aka M8 free clipboard aka 25 clips), Clipboard magic, Clipboard manager (agatasoft), Clipboard Recorder (lw-works), Clipboardic, Clipcube, Clipcycler, Clipguru, Clipmagic, Clipomatic, Cliptorrent, Cliptray, Copycat, Flashpaste lite, Hovtext, Insideclipboard, Memoclip, Multiclipboard, Pastecopy.net, PhraseExpress, Sanvient, Shapeshifter, Tenclips, Yankee Clipper III, xNeat Clipboard manager.

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!

 

Specific Features of Clipboard Managers

Some users may be looking for specific features that are not considered a must-have in this review. These features are listed below for ease of reference. No freeware includes all these 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 the 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+insert...) and actions, to accommodate special needs.

 

Related Products and Links

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Editor

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

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Comments

I'm very surprised you have said that Ditto is so good. I have just installed it and it's terrible! Firstly, the Help file says to highlight a stored entry and hit Enter to paste. That doesn't work. Secondly, It opens behind the System Tray window (My taskbar is on the right side (vertical) on my screen) so I can't get to the clipboard items. It can't be dragged higher by its border. Yes. I know I can fix that by moving its icon onto the Taskbar.
Thirdly, it doesn't remember formatting! What good is that? It pastes only text.
I'm sticking with CLCL for the time being, although 1Clipboard (by the same people who brought you PicPick) looks promising. All it's missing is 'instant paste' when the stored item is clicked.

CLCL works well for me too wreckage. I've tested Ditto as well. Its function for "Enter to paste" works for me. To keep copied format, check if you've enabled supported types.

Right-click the tray icon, select Options > Supported Types, then add them with the Add button. See https://sourceforge.net/p/ditto-cp/discussion/287511/thread/519550f3/

Moving the icon onto the system tray is a good solution to prevent the history items blocked by the System Tray window.

I've used and be happy with Magic Clipboard for years. However this last year or so, it has become really unreliable. Some things that I copy go to Magic Clipboard and some don't. This is on four different laptops, three running windows 7, and one running windows 8, plus a PC with windows 8. I have no idea why some things get copied to it and others don't. I came here looking for an alternative as it's time to say goodbye.

I see that you haven't tested nor mentioned CopyQ. While it isn't as powerful as Ditto, it's certainly worthy of making the shortlist. Apart from that, it really is a shame that ClipboardHelpAndSpell doesn't support anything other than text or images, because it's a beast otherwise. In fact, I use FindAndRunRobot and LaunchBarCommander by the same author on a daily basis. The developer has a knack for including lots of options for power users.

Has anyone tried ClipCube?

http://zodcode.com/clipcube

It's different from other clipboard managers, it stores clipboard entries and URLs separately. It also has a scratchpad and supports tags.

This one might be worth a look:
http://www.ghacks.net/2015/06/10/clipboard-master-4-0-review

I tend to agree with rseiler's suggestion.
Currently, I keep using Ditto (office) & Arsclip (at home) because I'm used to it, but Clipboard Master looks like a good alternative.

I've been using Ditto for a long time too. I actually use it with Input Director to copy and paste between multiple systems on my desk via the network. The problem is that Ditto spikes and uses 50% of my CPU until I restart it. Have you ever experienced this?

No, I've never experienced that kind op CPU spikes with Ditto.

For me, one thing is also important: a clipboard manager should not have a limit as far as the number of clips in concerned, i.e. it should also be a kind of 'history database'.

Once in a while it does happen that I need an old clipboard item that I know I have.

For example: Arsclip has a limit of (if my memory serves me well) 9999 clips. This number is reached quickly.

=

As for Clipboard Help+Spell note there have been a few updates, since the review

v2.24.01 - Jul 14, 2014
v2.23.01 - Nov 22, 2013
v2.20.01 - Aug 31, 2013

http://www.donationcoder.com/forum/index.php?topic=1514.0

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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

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.

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.

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)

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.

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?

I quite like Ditto. It's not as good as Clipboard Magic was when it worked well, as you have to copy the clips rather than just having the cursor on them. What I don't like about Ditto is that it wants to go online all the time. I don't need a clipboard phoning home.

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

Thanks for the understanding. No problem.

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.

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.

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.

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

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 )

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.

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.

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/
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