When Your Clipboard Is Key to Productivity

Working with Clipboard Managers

The Problem

To appreciate why a clipboard is important, picture this scenario.

You are busy researching on the web. You come across some text you wish to paste somewhere. You copy it to the clipboard.

Right? 😄

You are not yet done! If you are a student, or a researcher, you know that you are about to use someone’s text.

Putting it in quotes may not be enough: you need a way to reference it. Otherwise you run the risk of plagiarism.

So what do you do?

  • You launch your browser’s address bar.
  • Highlight the address, and
  • You copy again to the clipboard.

But there is a problem, because…… 😟 The moment you do just that, your clipboard displaces that original text.

By default, it is not possible to copy more than once without first pasting. So what you have to do is

  1. Create a Word document.
  2. Copy text from the web.
  3. Paste it.
  4. Do this again and again.

:frown: Until you are tired and bored.

Clipboard Managers to the Rescue!

To get around that problem, wouldn’t it be smart that when you are in the mood to research, you simply can do so without first opening other windows for pasting? Your business will simply be to copy, copy and copy. Then think about pasting some other time.

Sure, you can do that with a number of third-party clipboard enhancers or managers, call them what you like. Some say they are enhancers, others classify them as managers and still some call them extenders. They refer to the same thing.

Some clipboard extenders are free while others are commercial. The way they work is:

  • You copy something to the clipboard.
  • They store that clip in a database.
  • You continue copying new clips, and a clipboard extender will simply arrange them.
  • When you are prepared to use your clips, just bring them with some hotkey such as Windows-V1 or whichever keystroke is assigned for that task.
  • Then choose the clip you want, pressing UP or DOWN arrow keys.
  • Press the ENTER key to paste.

That’s it! 😄

In this Week’s tip, I will recommend a free and Opensource clipboard manager, The Ditto Clipboard Manager.

With Ditto, you can do all the tasks just provided above. Just download it from its homepage, and install it.

After installation, it runs in the background. It means you won’t need to interact with it in its dedicated window.

So as long as it is running, just copy your text to the clipboard and not to worry about losing it.

When you are prepared to paste the text, either as a single clip or a group of clips:

  • First open your target document where you want to paste the clips. This could be in your word-processor during your editing session.
  • Press Control-Grave key to bring it up.2
  • To paste only one clip,
    1. Press Up or Down arrow key.
    2. When you get to the desired clip, press the enter key.
    3. When you do that, the clip will be pasted into your target document and Ditto will disappear.
  • To paste more than one clip, and have them all combined into a single block of text:
    1. Navigate to the desired clip which is to be the first clip in the intended block.
    2. Then press the SHIFT-UP or SHIFT-DOWN arrow keys to select all clips to form the new block of text.
    3. After selecting enough clips, press the `ENTER key.
    4. All the clips will be pasted into your target document as a single block.
  • After pasting a clip, whether singly or as a group, Ditto will mark it as “Pasted”.


I hope this tip on working with your clipboard helped you become productive. Your clipboard, though it seems as it is not that important, is critical in moving text from one application to another. Maximising your productivity can be enhanced by how you interact with it.

Thank you for reading this week’s tip on clipboard management. Until next week when I bring another tip on reference management, have a fruitful time!

  1. By the way, this is the keystroke for bringing up Windows 10 Clipboard History. ↩︎

  2. The Grave key is also known as the “Backtick” key. It is the first key on the numeric row: in other words, it is immediately to the left of the Number 1 key on US keyboard. If you are not sure with regard to your own keyboard, try getting into the NVDA or JAWS Help with your keyboard and try pressing each key until you hear it. ↩︎