Simple questions: What is the clipboard from Windows?

If you have used computers for a while, then you know what Copy and Paste are, and you might have also heard about the clipboard. Do you know what the clipboard is? Do you know how to work with it and what it can do? What about the differences between the clipboard in Windows 10 and the clipboard in Windows 7 or Windows 8.1? If you would like to know more about the Windows clipboard, read on:

What is the clipboard in Windows?

In Windows, but also in other operating systems like Android or Mac OS X, the clipboard is a special location in your PC or device memory, that is used as a temporary storage area for any information that you copy. Once you copy some data into the clipboard, you can paste it somewhere else, in the same application from which you copied it, or in a different one, as long as it knows how to work with that type of data.

In other words, the clipboard stores all kinds of information that you have copied from one place, and you plan to use in another place.

What kind of information can you copy to the clipboard?

You can use the clipboard to copy just about anything that can be selected in Windows: text, images, videos, files (including shortcuts) or folders.

The Clipboard from Windows 10 with October 2018 Update

What can you paste from the clipboard?

Pasting the contents of the clipboard depends on where you perform the paste. For example, if you are working with text, you can paste text only in apps and programs that work with text. Following the same rule, you can paste images only in apps and programs that work with images, and so on.

If the content of the clipboard cannot be pasted where you want to, it is not pasted there, but the content of the clipboard remains intact.

What happens when you copy new items to the clipboard?

When you copy or cut something in Windows, that something goes into the clipboard. Afterward, when you copy or cut something else, two things can happen, depending on what version of Windows you have: the newly copied data is added to the clipboard content, or the new data replaces the previous content of the clipboard. Read the next sections of this article to see exactly what happens.

How does the clipboard work in Windows 10 with October 2018 Update or newer?

When you copy or cut something in Windows 10 with October 2018 Update or newer, any piece of information you copy can be saved to the clipboard together with all the previous clipboard items. Everything you save in your clipboard is available to paste and can even be synchronized on your other Windows 10 devices.

The Clipboard (history) popup from Windows 10 with October 2018 Update

This is possible because Windows 10 October 2018 Update introduced a new feature called the Clipboard history, which saves all the items that you copy, not just the last one. Even more than that, it can also sync clipboard items to your other Windows 10 devices using Microsoft's cloud infrastructure, but only as long as those items are made of text.

These features might be already enabled on your Windows 10 PC or device. Read these tutorials to learn how they work and how to set them up:

The Clipboard features and settings from Windows 10 with October 2018 Update

Although we find these features useful and productive, some people might not like them. Fortunately, Windows 10 lets you disable the Clipboard history as well as the syncing option. If you want to know how to do it, this guide helps: How to turn off the clipboard history and clear your data, in Windows 10.

How does the clipboard work in Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and older versions of Windows 10?

If you use a Windows 10 version before October 2018 Update, a Windows 7 or a Windows 8.1 PC or device, any new piece of information that you copy to the clipboard overwrites the previous contents of the clipboard.

This happens because these versions of Windows offer support just for a single clipboard transaction. When you paste the contents of the clipboard, the contents remain available for further pasting operations. It is overwritten only when you copy or cut something else.

Unfortunately, in these operating systems, there are no built-in tools to let you see the contents of the clipboard or store multiple items in it. Therefore, if you want to view the contents of the clipboard and manage it, you must use third-party programs developed by companies other than Microsoft. If you are looking for an alternative clipboard manager, you should try ClipClip. You can find information on how to use this app, in this article: How to view and manage the clipboard in Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.

The ClipClip clipboard manager for Windows

Did we do a good job at explaining what the clipboard is?

We hope you found this article useful and that now you have a clear understanding of what the clipboard is in Windows, as well as how to work with it. If there is anything you want to add or ask, leave us a comment in the section below.