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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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 Bob on 27. April 2009 - 12:22  (20623)

Brad seems to be referring to yesterday's time limited offer (not freeware and now expired) from Give Away Of The Day (http://it.giveawayoftheday.com/). Some good offers from GOTD get posted - sometimes rather late in the day - as Hot Finds (http://www.techsupportalert.com/view/hot). Selfishly, I didn't look into this one myself as I'm so happy with ArsClip.

Hopefully, the upcoming Gizmo TSA Twitter (work in prograss) may help us get this sort of time limited alert out a bit quicker.

by Anonymous on 10. May 2009 - 10:05  (21301)

CLCL is the best: right-click on the clip-icon in the traybar and select the clip (text, bitmaps with preview, etc.). That's all. The clip will be automatically inserted!

All other clip magnagers are slow because you have to select an hotkey (= you MUST use keyboard), pop-up the window, select the clip, insert the clip with an hotkey.

CLCL is just 1 right-click + select.

by Anonymous on 23. May 2009 - 19:18  (22215)

I'm looking for a freeware that does network transfer of text and images, with Vista64 support. Network Clipboard almost got me there. It "works" but on the 64 bit side there's no sound. No way to know if it copied to clipboard without going to the other machine and trying it. Also it has triplet hotkeys which makes it even more doubtful when copying. No way to change the hotkeys. If there was a visual cue it would be helpful too. Seems like it can't access the soundcard on 64 bit. Any hotkey combo where you have to hold 3 keys is just a pita. It's not that hard to provide a selection of hotkey pairs.

by Anonymous on 24. May 2009 - 2:40  (22226)

I couldn't find any better freeware that does images so I just wrote a few lines of AutoHotKey script that plays sound files when you hit the Copy and Paste hotkeys. It just lets the hotkeys pass on to be handled by Network Clipboard. With the audio cue this utility seems to fill my needs. At least for now. If you have Vista64 and want to give Network Clipboard a try check out AutoHotKey. Anyone who has written even simple batch files can do quite a few cool things on Windows with it. The secret is to put a tilde('~') before the hotkey. This way you do whatever in AutoHotKey without "eating" the hotkey. It continues on to whatever app was using it.

by Anonymous on 9. July 2009 - 16:47  (24840)

I was very surprised that software this bad would be recommended on this site. After installing Clipomatic on my WinXP Pro computer I found that I didn't like it so I uninstalled it . . . or so I thought. Even tho the uninstall routine said it had been uninstalled NOTHING had changed. (I had used the Add/Remove applet in Control Panel.) So I shutdown the program and removed it manually - including registry entries. ClipX does the job just fine and the options for usage are much more clear and extensive. ~ David Crow

by Anonymous on 15. July 2009 - 21:20  (25161)

I agree CLCL is a very lite and convenient tool. A must-have for me. The first freeware I got each time I reinstal windows.
Does anybody know what about CLCL and Vista ?

by Anonymous on 19. July 2009 - 21:37  (25379)

I downloaded this thing in June 2009, and it just sat there 'til I got around to finally installing it this weekend (July 18,2009). From the screenshots, I expected it to be pure bloatware...

...and traditional clipboard manager purists will probably see it that way, too. Understandable.

But I gotta' tell ya'... this thing's pretty cool. It's somewhere between "hey, this actually doesn't suck" and "ohmygod, where have you BEEN all my life?" Very interesting, indeed.

On Vista, the help index from the pulldown "Help" menu is dysfunctional for some reason... says I need a file that simply won't download, and the newest version of which Vista says I already have... yet it won't work. The two help files are linked to in the Start Menu folder, however, and so can be gotten to by hook or by crook.

But I must say, I'm a bit more impressed with this than I thought I would be.

I'm gonna' give it a SERIOUS try. SERIOUS.

And I would invite others to, too.

I may come back here and report that it sucked after all, but from my preliminary fooling around with it, I'm thinking not. And if not, then I may have finally found a clipboard viewer/manager I can really love.

I'll tell you what I wish: I wish I could get my hands on a utility that does the essence of what AccelClip does, and also what a little utility called "PicPick" does. PicPick doesn't fit in this category, so I won't go into it here. But I'm going to try to figure out which category it SHOULD be in here, and I'm gonna' go make a posting about it because IT'S AMAZING!

Gimmee a little time to make the posting (today is 7/19/2009), and then search here for "PicPick" and you'll see what I mean.

In the meantime, I'm kinda' likin' this AccelClip thing... to my astonishment. Yeah, it's full-o-more-stuff-than-usual, but it's still unambiguously a clip view/manager in the classic sense. And its having more features doesn't seem to make it slow or in any way BEHAVE like bloatware. Plus, as I poke aroud in it more and more, I actually can figure out how to use more of its features on a day-to-day basis than I ever, from reading about it on its web site, would have imagined.

Who woulda' thunk it. [grin]

by MidnightCowboy on 19. July 2009 - 21:51  (25381)

thanks for the comments - much appreciated. Any chance of you coming back on a regular basis to produce a review for us? If you've got some time available just send me a PM via the forum and I'll point you in the right direction.

Thanks again anyway
MC

by DesElms on 20. July 2009 - 18:21  (25443)

I'm the one who posted the above as "Anonymous" yesteday... not deliberately, mind you. I thought I was logged-in...

...which brings me to what MAY (and the operative word, here, is "may") be one of the things that AccelClip screws up (though I'm still researching it). Having installed AccelClip, suddenly my IE8 isn't keeping me logged-in to things... my logins are not surviving IE8 shutdown and restart. When I look in AccelClip, I see that it DOES monitor cookies.

Hmmm. Again, I'm still researching.

But there is one thing that AccelClip is doing which, if I can't find a way to make it stop, is going to end my association with it in short order, to wit: When I'm on a web page in IE8, and I press [Ctrl-F] so that I can begin searching ("finding") down the page for specific text, AccelClip launches itself on the [Ctrl-F] keystroke combination. When I look at AccelClip's various hotkey combinations, [Ctrl-F] isn't among them. [Shift-Ctrl-F] is, as are some other [????-Ctrl-F] combinations, but not just [Ctrl-F]. So that, right there is a problem. AccelClip is responding to keystroke combinations that aren't even on its hotkey list.

But wait... it gets worse...

When I go into AccelClip and tell it that I simply don't want any of its hotkey keystroke combinations to work (i.e., I'll get at the software from its system tray icon), it STILL responds to the [Ctrl-F] keystroke combination.

What th...?

I use the [Ctrl-F] keystroke combination many times a day. I can't have AccelClip popping-up every time I do. So, that, I'm afraid, may be a deal-breaker.... and quite probably the end of my very short love affair with this seemingly potent little product.

When a software company suddenly and inexplicably makes FREE what SEEMS like a wonderful piece of software for which it once charged, there's sometimes a reason why. Some companies do it, and the software's just fine. Others do it, though, because maybe some things about it were just too much to keep up with, given the revenue generated from it. I suspect that AccelClip suffered from that sort of thing.

But we'll see. I haven't de-installed it yet, but my eye has darted over to the REVO UNINSTALLER icon every time AccelClip has popped-up when it shouldn't have. I doubt, at this rate, that it will make it to the end of the day.

Just wanted to update.

 

__________________________
Gregg L. DesElms
gregg [at] greggdeselms.com
Napa, California

 

by Anonymous on 20. July 2009 - 21:41  (25447)

I recently tried most of the suggestions myself while configuring my new computer, and I concur that Ditto is the easiest & fastest to use when using the keyboard. One keystroke opens the Ditto toolwindow, which previews the last X clips. Focus is on a quick search box already, so you can immediately start typing text to search for in the saved clips. Once your clip is in view, you can either navigate to it with the arrow keys and press Enter to paste (no arrows necessary if the clip you want is the first one), or press a number to paste any of the top 10 matches. No other clipboard replacement I tried kept my fingers on the keyboard so well.

by Anonymous on 20. July 2009 - 21:42  (25448)

Ditto works in Vista x64 under a standard user account

by DesElms on 21. July 2009 - 17:51  (25522)

[sigh]

I'm back to update. And I just couldn't make AccelClip behave itself. It's got some POTENT features, alright...

...but, alas, it just doesn't play sufficiently well with others.

And so it is gone from my machine.

Buh bye, now.

Pity, though. What it did well, I liked... a lot.

I just hate it when an otherwise really good piece of software has such basic operational/logistical impediments that it ends-up being untenable. Opportunity lost.

 

__________________________
Gregg L. DesElms
gregg [at] greggdeselms.com
Napa, California

 

by DesElms on 21. July 2009 - 17:18  (25525)

LINK ERROR:

The link to Ditto, above, actually points to the ClipX site. I tried to change it, but it either didn't take, or someone needs to review it before it takes. If it's the latter, then I'm sure it will appear correctly here soon. If it's the former, then someone needs to correct it...

...and then, I would advocate, delete this posting.

 

__________________________
Gregg L. DesElms
gregg [at] greggdeselms.com
Napa, California

 

by DesElms on 21. July 2009 - 17:41  (25526)

zahirj wrote: "Simply put the best clipboard manager out there is Ditto clipboard manager."

My response: A bold statement... which, from my cursory examination today, might very well be true.

One weird thing it did, though: After copying the above quote from zahirj into my clipboard, but before pasting it into this posting, I also, just as a test, copied the Gizmo logo from the top-leftmost part of the page to the clipboard. Then opened Ditto and highlighted it and deleted it. Then came here, to this comment text box and tried to use [Ctrl-V] to paste zahirj's quote herein... and it wouldn't do it. This, even thought there were no other clips on the clipboard, and even though when I opened Ditto, zahirj's quote was highlighted (which, as I understand it, is what determines what will paste if one simply uses [Ctrl-V]. Of course, I could still make it paste by just left-double-clicking on zahirj's quote on Ditto's list of (in this case, only one) clips, but I'm thinking that maybe that's a bug.

But I don't think we should hold that against Ditto. Microsoft products should have as few bugs as Ditto seems to have. In fact, ANY product should.

Having just had my heart broken by AccelClip, I was hesitant to get my hopes up about Ditto... but zahirj's quote was so bold, I just had to try it. So far, so good...

...and kudos to Ditto's makers for two seemingly small things:

1) Using the oft-overlooked "`" character as what, when combined with the [Ctrl] key, is the hotkey combination which wakes Ditto up; and,

2) Not assigning, be default, any other hotkey combinations (allowing the user to figure all that out for himself/herself). Now THAT is both thinking ahead, and intentional and appreciated humility.

In a world where most software thinks (and acts as if) it's the only software installed on one's system, and so, often conflicts with other apps, the second of the two is a small thing MUCH appreciated!

Or so it is my opinion.

 

__________________________
Gregg L. DesElms
gregg [at] greggdeselms.com
Napa, California

 

by Jojo Yee on 22. July 2009 - 1:41  (25543)

Thank Napa, your correction is appreciated.

by Anonymous on 23. July 2009 - 17:56  (25654)

Don't know for clcl, but clipx has working vista64 beta version nicely running.

by Anonymous on 6. August 2009 - 14:27  (26535)

Gregg, thanks for the feedback. That's what this site is about!

by Anonymous on 13. August 2009 - 3:58  (26984)

another vote for xNeat. great up and comer. tiny footprint. modern aesthetics.

by zahirj on 24. August 2009 - 14:33  (31442)

Gregg, thanks for the reply. If you have any other clipboard software you want to see reviewed, please do drop me a mail.

by ma_t on 19. September 2009 - 19:14  (32974)

"...and most important of all to me, with hotkeys, I can go up or down the list in my history and sequentially paste clips. That's one feature I really loved about Clipmate."

You can achieve the same thing with ArsClip. Right-Click on ArslClip's tray Icon > Configure > In the hotkey tab check the box where it says "Enable the Tooltip Popup". You can also configure your own hotkeys.

by Anonymous on 20. December 2009 - 5:48  (39054)

I tried many but return to CLCL everytime. To simple and efficient.

by wdhpr on 7. February 2010 - 4:56  (43028)

The one that I am using is called PasteCopy.Net
Key feature are:

* Portable freeware tool, only (603KB)
* Multilingual support (de, en, es, it, ja, nb-NO, pl, pt, sv, zh-CN, zh-TW)
* Auto- Copy & Paste Windows Clipboard
* Convert rtf to txt (-automatically)
* Convert html to rtf or txt (-automatically)
* (Auto-) resizable/hide preview
* Mouse-hover/keystroke preview
* Clipboard-content preview in SystemTray
* Export and print function

Check it out at: http://www.pastecopy.net/

Cheers
Wdhpr

by Anonymous on 9. February 2010 - 2:52  (43136)

I like arsclip (and i'm learning to like ditto) for exactly the reason the previous poster thinks they're slow. Hotkey access is *much* faster for me - no need to stop typing and reach for the mouse.

Like most things - there's no 'best' that fits everyone. You pays your nothin' and you takes your choice ;)

by Anonymous on 30. March 2010 - 14:16  (46502)

I have been using CLCL for few years. The BEST.

by Anonymous on 28. April 2010 - 16:51  (48653)

The editors may wish to reconsider this information provided about Clipomatic:

"Operating Systems Supported: XP"
"64 Bit Capable: No"

I'm a longtime Clipomatic user on XP. I tried Clipomatic on Windows 7 x64 in both a standard account and admin account, and it worked fine, with these exceptions:
-When I tried to access the program's help, Windows gave a message indicating the help file is using functionality not currently present. Windows requested going online to download an update to fix this, but I didn't let Windows do it.
-I had some problems with the clipset feature. I'm not sure if this is specifically related to using it on Windows 7 x64 though, because I never use the clipset feature in practice anyway.

by GiantWaffle on 22. August 2010 - 8:40  (56510)

If I may add a utility and a short review of it here, please...

I found a great, free little clipboard replacement/extender utility! :)

It's called "Clipboard Magic" and it is found at the following URL:

http://www.cybermatrix.com/clipboard_magic.html

Now bear in mind, this is *NOT* "ClipMagic" mentioned above. I did try ClipMagic, but I like this one much better!

You see, for me, I am not looking for it to do 100 different things!

Speaking only for me, I don't like it when I go to find a piece of software to do a specific task and it is so buried in and bloated with other features, that it no longer does what it was originally written to do that well any more! It's like the original feature gets forgotten about. (:

I just want a clipboard replacement that will still actually act like a clipboard, but will store more stuff and make it easy to deal with that "more stuff" and that's all I want it to do! :)

Clipboard Magic does this really nicely and it allows you to set the amount of "rows" that it will store (bear in mind that each "row" can be lines and lines of text that you are sending to the clipboard, but shows up in the Clipboard Magic window as one row).

It just works really simply and easily and pops up with a hotkey and you can copy all of the "rows" that you saved, or just one, or whatever. And when you place the mouse cursor over a row, it brings up a little window that shows the whole text that you stored into that row and you can right-click and do stuff from there too.

Again, a "row" is whatever you highlighted and "copied", just as you would normally do with the regular Windows clipboard. Each "copy to the clipboard" gets stored as a "row" in Clipboard Magic.

The options that I would set right away (VIEW >> OPTIONS), are as follows:

Uncheck the one on the left that says to "Prompt to Clear File", so that it doesn't ask you if you want to do that every time you go to reboot, or log off from Windows (you will lose your "clips" this way when you reboot). Remember it will still prompt you the first time you reboot/log off, but not after that.

I upped the number of rows from 25 to 50. If you stay logged in for great lengths of time, you may find this to be a good idea. :)

I would also set (on the right side) the options to "Start on Boot" and to "Start Minimized", so that it runs when Windows comes up and drops down to the System Tray.

Uncheck the one that says to show the splash screen when it loads up. I think it does anyway, but this is probably just a bug and when it gets fixed, you'll already have this option set. :)

Although these would seem like the stadard settings for most users (except maybe the "Prompt to Clear" setting), these options are not set by this way default, for some reason.

Anyway, try it out and see what you think! I love the simplicity of it and unlike all of the others here and elsewhere that I have tried, I was up and running with it (and by that I mean using it efficiently) in about 2 minutes! :)

I am using it on Windows 7 x64, so I don't think that there should be an OS issues, for Win7 users.

Hope this helps! :)

by arto65 on 22. August 2010 - 17:02  (56527)

Thanks GiantWaffle for your review!
This software is already on my list, and I'll make sure to test it!

by Bobva (not verified) on 12. September 2010 - 17:48  (57709)

I've used ClipX for years and love it. I now use it on a Win 7 x64 system. I have only one question/gripe: When I reformat a drive or get a new PC, I have to re-add all of my stickies! I've tried keeping various files from the old installation and pasting them into the new installation, but nothing has worked. I wrote twice to the author, but never received replies. Does anyone know where the stickies' history is saved? Thanks!!

by arto65 on 13. September 2010 - 21:55  (57772)

Hello Bobva!
The stickies are kept in C:\Users\******\AppData\Local\ClipX in the clipx_******.ini file. You just have to copy that file over to any computer with the same version of ClipX and the stickies plugin installed.

By the way, do you have any issue with ClipX ? When I was using it on Win7 x86, sometimes it would just stop monitoring the clipboard, so I had to restart it. Can you give me feedback on your experience of ClipX ?

Have a nice day!

by Bobva (not verified) on 24. September 2010 - 19:49  (58373)

Hi arto65,

ClipX x64 beta didn't work well at all. The x86 works ok in Win 7 x64, but wouldn't start automatically at Windows startup until I manually placed the shortcut in the startup folder.

Thanks for your help, arto65.

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