How to access clipboard (copy-paste) history on a Mac

Copy and paste has been revolutionary for productivity. That may sound silly, especially considering how commonplace it is. Everyone uses that function, all the time. But without it, we’d have to start from scratch on whatever we are working on.

Instead of starting over, copy and paste gives us control and time. Control to know that once we’ve created something once - whether its a passage of text, an entire document, images, videos, music, code - we can replicate it. Instantly. Easily. And wherever we have an internet connection, we can share those creations or links with anyone else in the world.

When you stop and think about it, copy and paste is remarkable (on a Mac: Command/⌘+C to copy, then Command/⌘+V to paste). The problem is, we are so used to it, so used to skipping back and forth between tasks that once we’ve copied something if we don't paste it, we can quickly lose it and need to start again. Such a pain! Unfortunately, even the most expensive Macs only have one clipboard.

Once you’ve copied something else, what you originally copied is lost. A Mac clipboard is a transient memory function, only designed to hold one item at a time. Once it's gone, it's gone. Clearly, this is a problem and one that developers have been working on with numerous solutions, known as clipboard managers, appearing over the years. Thankfully, we have a solution we highly recommend to this particular problem with copy/paste history. Here is what you need to know about Mac clipboards.

Where do you find the clipboard on your Mac?

Mac clipboards are one of those Apple OS programs that run in the background. You can find it through the Finder menu - top toolbar. Find and select Show Clipboard, and it will show the last item you copied.

How does the clipboard work on a Mac?

As a native program, it runs the same way as other Apple operating functions. Clipboard is a basic program, which is why it takes up almost no processing power or space, except for the item it currently holds. Unfortunately, this means it has limitations. You can’t see anything else, apart from the latest item you copied. Once you copy something else, that disappears.

Or at least that would be the case, but we have a solution for viewing the little-known secondary clipboard, where you can find the clipboard history.

How do you see your copy and paste history on a Mac?

Instead of struggling with your Clipboard limitations, you can access your copy and paste history through the hidden secondary Clipboard, visible and accessible when you use Paste.

Paste is pretty rather straightforward. This powerful clipboard history manager automatically keeps everything you’ve copied regardless of its format - text, pictures, screenshots, links, and others. Anytime you need, you can smart search through the clipboard history manager, share anything through AirDrop or sync to iCloud, and even access your clipboard on other devices using the Universal Clipboard. Download Paste from Setapp and try it for free.

How do you paste from the clipboard on a Mac?

When you are using Paste, you’ve got several options for pasting items from the Clipboard. You can also share items. If you simply need to view your clipboard history or paste something from the basic Clipboard, press Command/⌘+V.

How do you clear the clipboard on a Mac?

Clearing a Clipboard is easy too. Either over-write the current item in the Clipboard with a new copy of something else or when using Paste, you can delete the Clipboard history with a few clicks. However, you might want to store items or the whole history in iCloud just in case you remember that you need something. Never lose anything in the Clipboard ever again with Paste.

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