Power Up Your Clipboard with ClipMenu

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.

screenshot

ClipMenu Clipboard History

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.

screenshot

Types of Data

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.

screenshot

Pop Up Menu

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.

General Options

One of the greatest things about ClipMenu is that nearly everything it does is completely customizable.

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General Options

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).

Menu Options

In addition to general behavior options, you can customize a lot of attributes relating to the menu itself.

screenshot

Menu Options

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.

Actions

Yet another feature that makes ClipMenu so powerful is the ability to perform a plethora of actions on a string of text.

screenshot

Actions

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.

Snippets

As I mentioned above, apart from recalling your clipboard history, ClipMenu can also permanently store frequently used text snippets.

screenshot

Snippets

These snippets can be anything you find yourself typing manually on a daily basis: portions of code, email signatures, website passwords, etc. If you’re a developer, this is awesome for all those little bits HTML, CSS and JavaScript that you can never remember or simply don’t want to manually type out all the time. One of the few features I’d love to see added to this app is optional syntax highlighting for snippets, which is unfortunately not present.

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.

Conclusion

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.


Summary

ClipMenu is a simple but powerful clipboard manager with support for multiple file types, string manipulation actions and permanent snippet storage.

9
  • http://www.sideshow-systems.de Flo

    Thanks for this Tipp. Looks great!

  • http://minimalisten.tumblr.com/ Robin Lundgren

    Awesome application. I use it for it’s snippet functions when I do web coding.

    • Zee

      For simple things I can see where that might come in handy but for an advanced snippet manager you might want to check out code barrel at http://www.codebarrel.com

  • André

    I use this tiny app for a while now for it´s simple multi copy/paste feature. But – thanks to you – i will now take a closer look and discover the more hidden features of this app.
    Greetings from Germany, André

  • FG

    Seems way to complicated for me.

  • funkymonkey

    I’ve been using this app for about a month and love it. I discovered it on this very site about 5 minutes before paying for iClipboard! So it’s already saved me money! LOL.

    Thanks to Mr. Morimoto for an awesome free app.

    *Parallels users might want to note that it prevents copying and pasting from Mac to VM, not sure why, Parallels has had similar issues in the past with clipboard software. I have to quit ClipMenu if I need to paste into a VM.

  • http://blog.solignani.it Tiziano Solignani

    If it stored and retrieved snippets on/from a server on the internet, it would be absolutely perfect!

    • http://djorgi.de dan

      Actually, you can store and retrieve your snippets (and the ClipMenu history) online using Dropbox! – This way I sync/backup my ClipMenu snippets, 1Password database/keychain, ShoveBox database, etc, with multiple computers.

      ClipMenu is a great app, btw!

      • http://blog.solignani.it Tiziano Solignani

        Nice tips! I will try it out, I am alreayd a dropbox user. Thank you.

      • http://blog.solignani.it Tiziano Solignani

        Wich files do you dropbox to replicate clipmenu around computers? Thank you.

  • Yukon Jack

    Yes it is an awesome app. I too have been searching (and using) several different clipboard managers: CuteClips, myClippings, Pluto, Clips, and others, and I find this is pretty versatile.

    Please note, though, that the dev’s site give you the opportunity to donate. I highly recommend this if you do keep it and use it. I’ve see far too many “donationware” apps suddenly become shareware with a price, and everyone howls about how it used to be free. Now I’m going to put my money where my mouth is…I hope you do too.

    • John Rollyson

      Dan
      Can you spell out how you sync/backup ShoveBox with DropBox? Thanks, John

  • Erica S.

    If you want a much simpler clipboard, Jumpcut is a nice one:

    http://jumpcut.sourceforge.net/

  • Gray Manley

    Awesome thank you! Looks amazing. Definitely loving all the control you have over it.

  • Henry Bennett

    Great article! I love ClipMenu and have had it permanently open for the last year. I really like how it can be straightforward simple and out of the way when you want to be, but also has the power to do much more if you need the features.

  • http://meerzdaily.blogspot.com Meerz

    Sweet!

  • Dicey

    Thanks! Been using it ever since I came across this review. It’s the Mac equivalent of Klipper and Glipper for Linux (that’s a good thing) and is the best on Mac.

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  • Ari

    I wish it had search ability, so that I could search for a word among all saved items.

  • David

    I have just started using it. Great so far, but it is not really clear how to load new ‘snippets’. The “read me” could be clearer on this.

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