Clipboard managers are a writer’s best friend

Screenshot of a window titled Clipboard with several snippets of text featured in this article presented as sequential rows in a list.
Holy recursion, Batman!

Do you write things on computers? You do. So you have a clipboard manager, right?

My clipboard manager makes me feel like a ninja. I’m sliding and striking and chopping and spinning words and text and URLs without any worry about losing my balance or missing my objective. 

A clipboard manager is just what it sounds like. It makes your clipboard work more like an IRL clipboard and less like a weak refrigerator magnet. My favorite, ClipMenu1, keeps all the things I’ve recently copied in a new, larger clipboard. The paste command works normally when I want it to, or, I can use a special shortcut command to bring up the clipboard manager instead. If I hold down shift during the normal ⌘+V, a small context menu of my clippings is presented, grouped into sets of ten. I then select an item from the menu to insert that instead of the latest item copied.

It sounds more complicated than it is. It took maybe two or three weeks before I was completely comfortable using a clipboard manager — now, it’s complete muscle memory, and I can’t imagine using a computer without it.

Having a clipboard manager is incredibly liberating. If you have a relatively stable computer, as most people do, it gives you the freedom to do a little creative slicing and dicing with the text you’re working on with less fear of losing something. Train yourself away from the ⌦ (delete) key and instead use ⌘+x (cut), and whatever you trim away from your current work is temporarily nestled in the safety of your clipboard manager. 

This is particularly useful if you create blog posts or other web content that tend to use the same phrases or links repeatedly. It helps me maintain a better flow when writing with less swapping between programs.

One of many tools in my web writing toolbox, yes, but definitely one of the most important. I’d give up a lot of apps before I gave up my clipboard manager.

1) As of July 18, 2020, I still rely on a clipboard manager. My current favorite is PasteBot.

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