Clipboard

Updated: 03/13/2021 by Computer Hope
Clipboard

The clipboard, also known as pasteboard, is a special location on computer, phone, and tablet memory that temporarily stores cut or copied text or other data. Once something is stored in the clipboard, it can be pasted to a new location. The clipboard holds its information until you cut or copy something else, or log out of the computer.

For example, a user may copy information from a word processor and paste it into an e-mail message. If the user pastes from the clipboard multiple times, the same information is pasted again and again. If the user then copies something else, that new information replaces the old information in the clipboard.

How to copy or move information to the clipboard

On a computer

To copy information from a program to the clipboard, use the copy feature. For example, you could highlight the text, image, or another object you want to copy, and once highlighted, right-click it and choose the option to copy. Alternatively, you could use the copy keyboard shortcut Ctrl+C on the PC and Chromebook or Command+C on a Mac.

To move text or another object from a program to the clipboard, use the cut feature. For example, you could highlight the text, image, or another object you want to cut, and once highlighted, right-click it and choose the option to cut. Alternatively, you could use the cut keyboard shortcut Ctrl+X on the PC and Chromebook or Command+X on a Mac.

On a mobile device

To copy text or a picture, use the copy feature. Highlight the text or picture, tap the highlighted text or picture with your finger, and select the Copy option that appears.

To move text or a picture, use the cut feature. Highlight the text or picture, tap the highlighted text or picture with your finger, and select the Cut option that appears.

Copying information from the clipboard to another program

On a computer

After completing the steps above to copy or move information to the clipboard, it can be placed in any program using paste. For example, you could move to where you want to paste text, picture, or another object, right-click a blank area, and select the option to paste. Alternatively, you could use the paste keyboard shortcut Ctrl+V on a PC and Chromebook or Command+V on a Mac.

On a mobile device

After completing the steps above to copy or move information to the clipboard, it can be placed in any program using the paste feature. Tap in the program where you want to paste the content, then tap again at that location and select the Paste option that appears.

How do I open the clipboard?

Many operating systems include "clipboard viewers" that display what information is currently stored in the clipboard. These utilities often can configure the clipboard with permissions or view its history. Below are the steps on how to view the clipboard in Windows and on mobile devices.

Windows 10

In the October 2018 update for Windows 10, Microsoft introduced a new clipboard that allows you to view the history of content copied. However, the clipboard history is only available for copied text and images up to 4 MB in size.

To enable the clipboard history feature, follow the steps below.

  1. Click Start, then click the Settings Settings icon icon.
  2. On the Settings window, click the System option.
  3. In the left navigation pane, click the Clipboard option.
  4. Under Clipboard history, click the toggle switch to the Clipboard history toggle to On position position.

Once enabled, you can view the clipboard history by pressing the Windows key+V keyboard shortcut.

Windows Vista, 7, and 8

Unfortunately, Microsoft decided not to include a clipboard viewer in Windows Vista, 7, and 8. To view the contents of the clipboard, you need to download and use a third-party utility or program.

Note

The command line clip command still works. See the command line section for further information.

Windows 2000 and XP

Microsoft Windows 2000 and XP users may find it difficult to locate the clipboard because it was renamed to the Clipbook viewer. It is found by opening Windows Explorer, then the "Winnt" or "Windows" folder, then the "System32" folder. Find and double-click the clipbrd.exe file.

Users can also click Start, Run, type clipbrd, and press Enter to execute this program.

Windows 9x, ME, and NT

Microsoft Windows 95, 98, NT 4.0, and ME come installed with a clipboard viewer, and can run by clicking Start, Programs, System Tools, and clicking Clipboard Viewer. The clipboard viewer is also executable through the clipbrd.exe file in the Windows directory.

Windows command line

In the standard Windows command line, there are no commands that allow you to paste or view the contents of the clipboard. However, you can copy text to the clipboard with the clip command.

DOS clip command

Then you can paste the text to another program, such as Notepad.

Notepad paste clipboard

Notepad pasted text

See the clip command page for further information and examples.

Windows PowerShell

If you are using Windows PowerShell, you can paste the clipboard with the Get-Clipboard command or its alias gcb.

PowerShell clipboard commands

To use PowerShell, open the Start menu and click Windows PowerShell > Windows PowerShell.

iPad and iPhone

Unfortunately, Apple does not include a clipboard viewer on iPads and iPhones. To view the clipboard contents, you need to download and use a third-party app, like Paste or Clip+.

Android device

Unfortunately, Google does not include a clipboard viewer for the Android operating system on phones or tablets. To view the clipboard contents, you need to download and use a third-party app, like Gboard.

How much data can the clipboard store?

The amount of data the clipboard can store depends on how much physical memory (RAM) and configured virtual memory (paging file) is in the computer. The more memory a computer has, the more data you can copy to the clipboard.

Only copied text and images are stored in the clipboard. If you copy a file, only information about the file is stored, not the file itself. For this reason, it's uncommon that you need to increase the amount of data the clipboard can store. However, if you are working with large or raw images, you might encounter a case where more memory is needed to allow the clipboard to store the image data.

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