The best free Windows clipboard replacement

There are many clipboard managers out there but only a few that do what I want, the way I want.
Clipx [1] and Clipomatic [2] are excellent. They are both fast, lightweight, easy to use and use few system resources. When you press a programmable hotkey they launch a pop-up menu of clips to select. The clip selection can be made via mouse or keyboard shortcut thus enabling completion of the entire copy/select/paste process to be made by keyboard alone. They have options to record and display a variable number of clips, as well as to store permanent clips such as text snippets. Both use less than 1MB memory so any system can afford to have them running continuously.

Clipomatic is a bit slicker to use and has more robust permanent item functionality but its real limitation is that it is text only. ClipX will do everything Clipomatic will (although you need to add a plug-in to enable the permanent clip function, available from the same site as ClipX) plus copy images.

The only reason I’ve stopped using those two is because they only keep a limited number of clips. They can hold 30+ but everything they hold is displayed on the hotkey popup and if you set them high the popup gets pretty big and cluttered. If you keep the popup slim and small, you only get to keep a limited clip history.

There are other clip utilities that record full histories but most of them fail in simplicity of use. ClipMagic [3] and Yankee Clipper III [4] are two decent ones that record, sort, and archive huge histories and both do it well. But they are overkill; more like clipboard Personal Information Managers than utilities. And the cost of this overkill is the loss of simplicity of operation.

ArsClip [5] is a product that offers a perfect balance between functionality and ease of use. It has the fast and light features of Clipomatic and ClipX but also records a long history of clips. Intelligently, the popup only displays a limited number of clips but the rest of the history is just one click further away. The history is also searchable. ArsClip has permanent items, but expands the basic ability and lets you create several different groups of permanent clips (like forum responses, email addresses, sigs, etc.), each displayed as separate cascading menus on the popup. ArsClip also allows easy one-click editing of clips. To top it all off, ArsClip requires no installation and can be run from a portable drive so you can easily tote all your clips with you.

For those with undemanding clip management needs, ClipX and Clipomatic are both fine choices. They are efficient tiny utilities that, while simple, still enormously increase the functionality of the Windows clipboard. ClipMagic and YCIII are more like full-blown clip management applications rather than utilities, but do offer excellent sorting and archiving if you’re a digital packrat. ArsClip is my favorite, offering speed and effortless functionality while hanging on to a wealth of data.

All of these tools offer great advantages over the standard Windows Clipboard. So pick what’s right for your needs knowing that whatever you chose you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.

[1] http://bluemars.org/clipx/ Freeware, All Windows versions, 108KB
[2] http://www.mlin.net/Clipomatic.shtml Freeware, All Windows versions, 95KB
[3] http://www.clipmagic.com/ Freeware, Win98 and later, 1.88MB
[4] http://www.intelexual.com/products/YC3/ Freeware, All Windows, 1MB
[5] http://www.joejoesoft.com/vcms/97/ Freeware. All Windows 600KB.



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