Clipy is above and beyond the best clipboard app for OS X. Paste (⌘+V) has always been limited to the most recent thing you copied (⌘+C). Now I have an endless clipboard at my fingertips with one extra key (⌘+Shift+V by default).

Clipy saves a history of items I’ve copied in groups of 10 by default. I usually set my “Max clipboard history size” to 100, which gives me 10 groups of 10 items.

How to use Clipy

I love that I’m able to use Clipy entirely from the keyboard. I can start with the hotkey, press a number for a group followed by enter, and paste the item by pressing the number for the item followed by enter. Here’s an illustration of this in action:

Using the Clipy app to paste something from history

Using the Clipy app to paste something from history

That gives me a long history to look at whether I’m working on slides for a presentation or hacking on code. I can flip from one group to the next until I find what I was looking for.

Paste as plain text

When you paste as plaintext the item inherits the formatting of the current document. This is a huge benefit because it keeps your style and formatting consistent.

Clipy’s history is in plaintext. If you copy formatted text (with bold, italics, etc) ⌘+V will paste with the format intact. But if you paste explicitly using Clipy (⌘+Shift+V), it will always paste as plaintext.

I take advantage of this feature every day. It’s something I’ve come to take for granted when working on a different computer.

Snippets

I haven’t had as much time to use this feature, but it’s like giving an item in your clipboard a permanent spot. Put items in a group, assign a hotkey, and use it whenever you need it.

Here are some ideas:

  • Email templates: save templates for each of your common emails
  • Code snippets: write small bits of code once and reuse everywhere
  • Commands: paste long or complex command line commands
  • URLs or email addresses: a simple alternative to bookmarks
  • Blog or document layouts: save your preferred writing patterns
  • Self help: use the snippets as a simple cheatsheet or help document

You can even set up hotkeys to each of the snippet folders you set up. Remember that the text is still only stored as plaintext. No links for formatting will carry over when you paste.

Security concerns

Let’s consider how these new features impact your security and privacy. Anything you copy will stay in your clipboard until you manually clear it or run out of items in your history. Malicious users could view and use sensitive information in your history.

Be aware of what you copy. Clear your history after every password or API key. If you’re forgetful, set “Max clipboard history size” to a small number so that it clears more quickly.

History

Clipy began after it’s predecessor, the ClipMenu app, stopped receiving updates. The team behind Clipy continue fixing bugs and adding features. I’m thankful that they’ve decided to keep this open source project alive!

Categories: lifehacksoftware

David Needham

David Needham is a Developer Advocate at Pantheon where he focuses on developer education and training. When he's not blogging about productivity at davidneedham.me or speaking at conferences, you can probably find him with his bicycle-loving family playing board games in Champaign, IL.

12 Comments

Paul Lamoureux · July 17, 2019 at 4:17 pm

I just installed Clipy on my MacBook Air running High Sierra 10.13.6 and it won’t copy JPEG files that I’ve attached to an email in Mac Mail. Is Clipy not JPEG-friendly?

    David Needham · July 17, 2019 at 4:39 pm

    Hi Paul. If I try copying a jpg and then do the special paste command to trigger Clipy, I see the preview of the image that I copied. Perhaps it has something to do with Mac Mail? Either way, you may want to try creating an issue with the creators of Clipy: https://github.com/Clipy/Clipy/issues.

Kambro · September 25, 2019 at 6:48 am

Thank you for your article. I used Clipy since about a year, but I didn’t find how to do plain text copy.

    David Needham · January 30, 2020 at 10:47 am

    Hi Kambro! There are settings to control how plain text pasting works. Often if I copy something, then paste and discover it’s rich text (formatted weirdly), then I’ll ⌘ + V to fire up Clipy, then hit 1, followed by 1 (to select the item I copied most recently). When I do this, it pastes as plaintext. I hope this helps!

Mario A. Garcia · January 30, 2020 at 10:38 am

Hi David,

Thanks for all you do with Clipy. How can we get hotkey capabilities even if just for the last 10 items and top ten favorites? If this requires a lot of programming, please charge us a small fee to get it done and again thanks.

    David Needham · January 30, 2020 at 10:45 am

    Hi Mario! I’m not the creator or even a maintainer of Clipy, I’m just a big fan. I don’t see any built-in functionality for hotkeys for the last 10 items, or snippets. But the way I do it (⌘ + shift + V, followed by 1, then the number of the thing I want to paste) is pretty darn close. Your best bet may be to open an issue on their queue on Github: https://github.com/Clipy/Clipy/issues.

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