alvrod / blog

Adopt a clipboard manager today

Today I would like to convince you, dear reader, to include a clipboard manager in your digital tool set.

What is a clipboard manager?

A tiny application which records the content of your clipboard (“paste”) every time you copy something and gives you some options to use it. I expect to have at least:

  • Hit a (configurable) shortcut to pop up a window showing me my recent pastes (including a thumbnail of image content) to choose from
  • Click on one to paste (or use the arrow keys and enter)
  • Incremental search feature (type to find and hit enter)
  • Hit a (configurable) shortcut to paste without format
Did you know? Pasting with format by default is one of the seven major scourges of personal computing

Why should I care?

“I only occasionally need to copy the same thing again, so this doesn’t sound so useful”, you say, breaking my heart in the process.

While referring again to recent pastes is, sometimes, useful, this is not really the top advantage I get out of the clipboard manager. Instead, this is how I think about it and why I value it so much that it is the first thing I install in any new computer:

  1. Whenever I see anything useful or that I could possibly want to reference later, I copy it. Copy, copy, copy, copy with abandon and wanton decadence, copy without looking back. It will all be there later if I need it. Over time, window switching is enormously reduced.
  2. Deliver myself from rememberance. I need to remember fewer things, because they are accumulating in my paste history. Less cognitive overload, more space in my mind to think.

How to

On Windows I use Ditto which works just fine for me. I have it configured with ctrl + shift + z to open the popup and ctrl + shift + v to paste without format:

Ditto shortcut options

Ditto shortcut options

Windows 10 has a simpler / more limited one which is off by default and could be enabled in the settings, the option to turn it on appears simply by hitting its shortcut (win + v):

Turning on the Windows clipboard manager

Turning on the Windows clipboard manager

I suppose every OS should have one these days. I did have a lot of trouble finding one that I liked enough in Linux, though. On Mac, my friend Andy recommends Flycut.

See also

Scott has a lot of tool suggestions here:, maybe it’s a bit outdated right now but there can be useful things. I also always use AutoHotKey too, for instance.