Cool Tool: Clipmenu

I recently switched from a Macbook Air to a Pro at work, and rather than automatically migrating over everything on the old computer, I've been rebuilding my applications and preferences from scratch. I like the exercise– it makes me think about which programs are really critical to my workflow, and which just clutter up my drive and my attention. The test for me is:

  1. Start with few to no extra programs.
  2. Work for a day.
  3. See which utilities' absence actually hinders my work.

ClipMenu was the first tool to pass this test.

The operating system clipboard has an odd limitation that many of us never think about: it only holds one item at a time. That's weird! You have gobs of RAM and local storage on your computer, but your clipboard refuses to store more than one entry.

Enter ClipMenu. Clipmenu works like this:

  1. If you want to paste the last thing you copied to the clipboard, hit ⌘-V as normal. Easy!
  2. If you want to paste something you copied before that (say, something in the last 10 items you copied), hit ⌘-Shift-V. You get a pop-up menu that looks like this:

Clipmenu_example

You can get really fancy with it, storing commonly-used snippets, special pasted-item formatting, etc., but the basic functionality is great on its own. Added UX triumphs:

  1. No impact on non-power users' workflow or mental model. They can continue to copy and paste with standard shortcuts just the way they always have.
  2. Works like you would expect. Within an OS, adding a modifier key to a shortcut typically takes an action and modifies it in some way. ⌘-S is "Save," and ⌘-Shift-S is "Save As." By adding the Shift key (customizable, of course) to the standard paste shortcut, Clipmenu opens up extra functionality on a commonly-used function.

ClipMenu. It's free. Get it.

Note: If you're on Windows, look into ClipX. On Linux, try Parcellite. If you want other OS X clipboard manager options, see this Lifehacker post.