Working with text, and graphics, can be a time consuming job. If you are like me you’ll know many keyboard shortcuts, some of which will be used repeatedly throughout your working day.

For example:

  • CTRL+C
  • CTRL+V

Go on, who can hit that oft repeated key combination without even looking at the keyboard (you touch-typists can shush).

Cut and paste is so frequently used that it is often overlooked, yet it does warrant some thinking. I’ve tried adapting the way I work in the past but it turns out that I use a variety of different tools for a variety of different, yet very similar, tasks and the tool chosen largely depends on my mood.

I sometimes take text from an email into a Word document, sometimes I’ll start in Notepad (Notepad2 actually) and go from there, and other times I’ll just be moving things from one place to another in a FrameMaker document. The process is the same, cut and paste, cut and paste.

The flaw comes when you need to multiple items in multiple locations, leaving you flicking between windows and trying to remember what you last CUT so you PASTE the correct thing… how many times has that gone wrong for you?

Clipboard managers, as such pieces of software are known, have been around for a while, but I’ve never managed to work one into my workflow. Typically they are only need now and again but as that is the case how do they know WHEN they are needed, and when not?

I think I’ve found the answer, and it goes by the name of ClipX (yeah, the title of the post was a bit of a giveaway). It is a light-weight, unobtrusive clipboard manager that, with a little tweak to the default settings, makes it very easy to have the ability to go back through the previously copied items, without getting in the road of the more regular, one-to-one copy/paste activities.

If you download and install the application, you need to change one of the Popup settings. Right-click the icon in the system notification area, select Configure and then, on the left of the Configuration dialog, select Popup. Change the Default item setting to Last clipboard and you are good to go. I’ve also turned off the search and limited the number of items.

The really smart thing about ClipX is that it also handles graphics. I’ve been doing some web design work recently, hacking away and creating some basic graphics for the site. This is what my current CTRL+V action looks like (hitting Enter pastes the selected item, with the top-most, or most recent, item selected by default):

Smart, isn’t it.

Admittedly my infatuation with this little application may be because I’ve finally adjust the way I work to accomodate such a tool, but I like to think it’s also because it is an application that takes something simple and makes it work.