ClipMenu is an incredibly neat little app that we’ve mentioned in several recent articles here on AppStorm. However, we’ve never given it a proper review and wanted to take the time to show you just how cool it is.
If you’ve downloaded ClipMenu before and only given it a brief try, there is a lot of functionality that you might have missed. Below we’ll walk you through the full feature set so you can be sure to take full advantage of all that the application does.
The Search Begins
There are tons of clipboard managers for Mac. Some of them are simple context menus, others have full-fledged GUIs and huge features sets. The ultimate solution for you pretty much comes down to what you’re looking for in this type of app.
When I set off in search for the perfect clipboard manager I had very specific needs. First, it needed to be free. It’s a fairly simple concept and I just knew there would be enough free options available to forgo dishing out twenty bucks for glorified copy/paste functionality. Obviously, it also needed to track an extensive history of both text and images.
These requirements are fairly simple and easy to find in free apps. One feature that really limited my options though was speed; it had to be super fast and keyboard shortcut driven.
One final thing that I was searching for was a solid snippet manager. As a full-time writer and web designer, I wanted something to organize all the various snippets of text and code that I use on a daily basis. In fact, this was really an entirely different search. In my mind I was looking for two different apps: a clipboard manager and a snippets manager.
Originally, I thought Jumpcut was part of the solution. It works great, is completely free and served me well for months. However, I was still coming up short in the snippets area. Then one day, on this very site, I came across a brief mention of an app called ClipMenu. Once I realized all that it did I switched instantly and never looked back.
This little free app is so fully featured and perfect at what it does that it felt like discovering Quicksilver all over again. To see what I mean, let’s jump in and look at all the features.
The Clipboard Manager
First and foremost ClipMenu is a clipboard manager. The clipboard is an incredibly handy utility on every operating system but is unfortunately usually limited to recalling only the most recent item copied. Clipboard managers enhance the clipboard by giving you the ability to recall several formerly clipped items.
At its core, ClipMenu is an incredibly simple menu-based tool. One click on the icon in your menu bar brings up a menu with the past twenty items you copied to the clipboard.
When you click on the item that you want, it will automatically be pasted into whatever application is currently active.
Types of Data
ClipMenu isn’t limited to simple text snippets. Instead it recognizes eight unique types of data that are automatically stored and recalled through your normal copy and paste commands.
As you can see in the preference panel above, you can choose to disable any type of data that you don’t want included. For instance, if you frequently copy very large images and don’t want to bog down your machine by keeping these in the memory, simply uncheck the boxes relating to images.
It’s Where You Are
The key feature that makes ClipMenu so fast is that you don’t have to travel all the way to the menu bar every time you want to use it.
Instead, a quick keyboard shortcut of your choosing brings up a floating menu wherever your cursor happens to be. This allows you to quickly call up the menu, grab the item you want and get back to what you were doing without wasting time traveling around the screen.
One of the greatest things about ClipMenu is that nearly everything it does is completely customizable.
As you can see in the image above, you can customize various features such as how many items you want to store, the order the items are displayed, exporting options, applications to exclude and even the icon that is shown in the menu bar (there are lots of choices).
In addition to general behavior options, you can customize a lot of attributes relating to the menu itself.
You can control the behavior of how many items are stored in a folder, how long the preview text is, the size of the preview images, the length of tooltips, etc.
If you’re a complete control freak like me, the ability to change all of this for your own workflow is excellent. However, if you favor a simpler setup, you don’t have to touch a single one of these settings as they are all perfectly functional by default.
Yet another feature that makes ClipMenu so powerful is the ability to perform a plethora of actions on a string of text.
There are tons of preset actions to change the case of a string, surround it in tags, convert it to plain text, etc. You can even create and drag in your own custom actions.
Under the Actions menu, you can assign a keyboard shortcut to a given action. For instance, I have option-click set to “paste as plain text.” Notice that I also have control-click set to open the action window so I can access any actions to which I haven’t assigned a shortcut.
Keep in mind that these actions can be applied to either clipboard items or the snippets that we’ll examine in the next section.
As I mentioned above, apart from recalling your clipboard history, ClipMenu can also permanently store frequently used text snippets.
You can organize snippets into folders, rearrange their order and recall/insert them quickly with the same keyboard shortcut that you use to call up your clipboard history.
The Best Free Clipboard Manager?
If this isn’t one of the most fully featured free clipboard managers you’ve ever seen, I’d love to know what is.
The simple non-intrusive design makes ClipMenu one of those apps that really starts to feel like a default part of the operating system, so much so that you feel a bit lost when you sit down at a Mac without it.
If you’re willing to drop some cash, there are definitely prettier, more powerful premium options out there such as iClipboard and Clips, but I personally find the interfaces of some of these apps to be a little too big and distracting for a simple copy and paste tool and actually prefer the scaled-back no-hassle ClipMenu workflow.
To sum up, ClipMenu is a fast and remarkably fully-featured clipboard and snippet manager that is powerful enough to get the job done and simple enough to improve your workflow without complicating it.
As you can probably tell, I really love this app and use it more than almost any other utility on my Mac. A huge thanks to Naotaka Morimoto for taking the time to build such a handy utility and then distributing it free.
Leave a comment below and let us know what clipboard manager you use and how it stacks up to ClipMenu both in features and in price.
ClipMenu is a simple but powerful clipboard manager with support for multiple file types, string manipulation actions and permanent snippet storage.9
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