A Closer Look at What a Clipboard Is and Its Purpose

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Computers have become an important part of our daily lives. Back in the day, they were a novelty, but now we use them for everything. 

Knowing how to use a computer, which also includes smartphones, comes down to understanding all of the built-in tools and features. One such tool is a clipboard, and today we’ll go over its purpose and function. 

What is a Clipboard Anyway? 

A clipboard is a tool, or rather a built-in feature that is found in just about every operating system in existence. This includes both computer operating systems and OS designed for use with phones. It’s one of those tools that you don’t pay much attention to but would make your user experience a living hell if it just went away one day. 

The purpose of a clipboard is to serve as temporary storage for information or files. Plenty of things can be stored in a clipboard, ranging from snippets of text to entire files or folders. Once you copy something to a clipboard, it stays there until you either paste it somewhere or otherwise use it. 

It’s worth mentioning that you’re not limited to the clipboard that comes with your OS. There are many third-party clipboards with a free download option that you can try out. That being said, the one that comes with your OS is a great way to get familiarized with this type of tool. 

Functions of a Clipboard 

Just about every type of clipboard out there has three main functions. These haven’t changed since the late 1970s when Larry Tesler of Xerox coined the terms copy, paste, and cut. Copying something makes a copy of a text or file that is stored in the clipboard. 

Once you go to your destination folder or file and click paste, the content of the clipboard will appear at that destination. Cutting is similar to copying, but with an extra step. 

Instead of just making a copy of a file or text and storing it into a clipboard, cutting deletes the original file. In a sense, you’re not copying things, you’re moving them from one place in your computer’s memory to another. 

The Evolution of The Clipboard Tool

Just like anything else computer-related, the clipboard has evolved over the years. Being one of the most popular tools, it was only a matter of time before people started customizing the clipboard tool to fit a much broader range of uses. 

One of the first functionalities that were added to this new generation of clipboard tools was the ability to store more than just one file or piece of text at a time. It’s now possible to access previous files or pieces of text that you’ve copied, manage your most popular clippings, and more. 

Microsoft Windows 10 Clipboard 

The stock clipboard tools have evolved as well. Microsoft has particularly taken interest in furthering the functionality of this popular tool. Their idea of making the clipboard more effective was to give it cloud access. That means that anything you cut or copy is added to a temporary cloud folder. 

Why introduce cloud connectivity? It’s simple — Microsoft wanted to allow its users to synchronize the clipboard across various devices. However, there are limitations to this upgrade. You can’t copy massive files into the clipboard. As a matter of fact, you can’t copy any kind of files into the cloud-synced clipboard. This functionality is pretty much reserved for text only. 

What is Clipboard History? 

One of the main changes that Windows 10 has brought to the clipboard tool was the introduction of a clipboard history feature. By adding this new option, Microsoft has allowed you to look into your previous clippings which are now grouped together in a single location. This makes all the difference in the world when your job requires you to use the clipboard a lot.

All that being said, your clipboard history can take up to 25 entries at the most. Once you fill out all of the slots, anytime you add a new item into the cue, the oldest one will disappear. Another thing to keep in mind is that your entire history gets flushed every time you restart the computer

Can You Save Items in Clipboard? 

If you want to preserve any clipboard entries even after your computer restarts, all you need to do is pin the item. You can do this by clicking on the 3-dot menu in the upper right corner of the item, and selecting Pin. That will preserve whatever you’re trying to save, making it available after your reboot your PC.