13 Copy and Paste Actions for Mac Power Users

Using multiple applications to copy and paste text and images can boost your productivity and save countless clicks, mouse movements, and typing.

The following is a list of tips for how I copy and paste text as I write and edit articles, tweets, reports, and other content. The purpose is to provide you ideas for using automation programs and clipboard managers to enhance your copy and paste workflow.

Beyond Apple Clipboard

First off, if you’re still only using the Apple clipboard to copy and paste, stop doing so now, and invest in one or more of the following clipboard managers.

A clipboard manager is far better than the Apple clipboard because the manager can retain a history of the items you copy. There are several powerful clipboard managers to choose from. I recommend the following:

iClip
iClip (affiliate link) can record and manage all your clippings, including copied images, and its user interface can be parked on designated side of your desktop for easy access so it’s always available. The application allows for hotkeys for nearly its features.

Copy’em Paste
Copy’em Paste is similar to iClip, but it has a floating window that can be activated by a hotkey, which for Mac automators opens other activation possibilities which I will explain below.

Alfred
Alfred can maintain a clipboard history of the items you copy and that can be quickly searched and selected for pasting with just a few clicks.

SuperTab
The newest version of SuperTab can retain and display your clipboard history, where you can quickly access it in a hidden dock using your mouse or trackpad.

Copied
I recently started using Copied (affiliate link) for syncing text between my Mac and iOS devices and visa versa. Copied is a seriously clean clipboard manager that can also be used as a notebook for organizing clippings into lists/folders. 

Paste
Paste doesn’t have all the functionality of Copy’em Paste or iClip, but it’s sweetly designed and easy to access with a hotkey. If you don’t have huge clipboard management needs, Paste might be enough.

Keyboard Maestro
Keyboard Maestro has some copy and paste actions that can help reduce clicking and hotkeys.

I will refer to these other resources in the tips below.

Paste by Typing

When I want to paste the current clipboard content while typing, I simply type two  assigned characters, “vv”, which triggers the hotkey, Command+V.  This is accomplished using the string character trigger in Keyboard Maestro.

Finger Gesture Paste

Instead of clicking Command+V to paste text, I can also use a 3 Finger Clickswipe Down to trigger the paste hotkey when my hand is already on my trackpad. BetterTouchTool triggers this hundreds of other actions using finger gestures.

BetterTouchTool provides some powerful ways to trigger hotkeys using finger gestures.

Paste Voice Command

When I don’t want to use a finger gesture or when my hands are not already on the keyboard, I can simply issue a Dragon Dictate voice command, “Paste”. The command triggers the Command+v hotkey.

Dragon for Mac 5

Screen Shot 2016-03-24 2.44.58 PM

Copy Link

You can right-click on a link in Safari webpage and choose “Copy Link” from the dropdown contextual menu.

Copy_link

Copy URL Voice Command

I use another voice command to copy the URL of the frontmost Safari webpage to the clipboard. This saves the trouble of selecting the URL and then pressing Command+C.

This “copy url” voice command triggers a Keyboard Maestro macro.

copy_url

It’s easy to map KM macro to a DD voice command action. KM creates an AppleScript script for every macro. A script can be pasted in a Dragon Dictate action and is assigned a voice command name.

Dragon_copy_url

Paste URL By Typing

When I want to paste the frontmost URL of a Safari webpage in another application, such as 2Do, I can type “urr” and hit the Return key to paste the URL while Safari is in the background. (Note: you can use create whatever stringer letters you like for trigger micros. Here’s a tips on creating and remembering stringer letters.

paste_Safari_title

If you’re a Keyboard Maestro user, this article and video demo introduces new users how to use the automation program to copy and paste text.

Clipboard Bins

I use clipboard bins or folders in iClip and Copy’em Paste to access saved clippings (such as URLs, quotes, snippets of text, research items, list items). These management features are similar to using a digital notebook of items.

iClip also allows for labeling clips, and as with Copy’em Paste, the contents of clippings can be edited. With iClip parked on the right side of my desktop, I can easily access current, past, and managed clippings.

iClip is $14.99 and Copy’em Paste is $9.99 in the Mac App Store.

Auto-Star and Save

There are times when I’m doing research or need to copy and collect snippets of text from one more sources.

Copy’em Paste provides a feature that stars each new clipping you make as long as the feature is enabled. This means no dragging and dropping individual clippings to the clipboard manager.

Copy'em Paste_star

The starred clippings can be saved into a folder for later use.

Trigger Copy’em Paste

When I’m typing, I don’t want to stop and use the assign hotkey to trigger to bring up the Copy’em Paste clipboard. Instead, I use a Keyboard Maestro macro to trigger the hotkey for the Copy’em Paste board.

The macro is triggered by a string trigger, and Copy’em Paste is set to appear near the cursor when it pops up. This setup allows me to simply type the number next to the clipping I want to paste as the video shows.

keyboard_maestro_copy

Alfred History

The application and file launcher, Alfred, also includes a clipboard history feature that I sometimes use when I want to quickly search a past clipping. I can simply trigger Alfred using Keyboard Maestro string trigger while typing.

The Alfred window pops up and I can type and search my last 7 days of copied text.  (Note: you can also trigger Alfred clipboard history by typing the keyword “history” in the Alfred window.

Popclip

I use the powerful and handy PopClip ($6.95 affiliate link)to copy and paste selected text in any application. If you’re not using PopClip, you’re missing out on wide range of Mac power user actions. See my article for more about PopClip.

Pasting Lines of Text

iClip has several utility features for copying and pasting texts (I could write an entire review about the application), but the one little handy feature is the ability to select and copy of lines of text to a set of individual bins.

The process just requires a hotkey to perform the action, but I created a few Keyboard Maestro macro to make the process quicker so I can keep my hand on the trackpad during the process.

Copied iCloud Sync

Copying and pasting text between iOS and Mac devices has always been a bit of a challenge, but I’m finding Copied (affiliate link) the best solution for syncing and managing clippings between devices.

Copied_ios_mac

I use Copied mainly for my iOS devices, but I also like it as a handy notebook, because clippings can be saved to lists (folders) similar to how it’s done in iClip and Copy’em Paste.

Another good solution in this area is Desk Connect which works between devices, and is supper fast.

Disconnect

Your Favorite Strategies?

So which of the above strategies and actions do you find useful for your workflow? And what other ways to do you copy and paste text on your Mac? We’d love to hear back from you.

 

  • If I’ve copied a multi-paragraph block of text, the AppleScript below allows me to choose one line of the clipping to paste into an open document. Good for things like copying a printed postal address and copying its components into separate fields, or any other situation where I want to paste separate elements of a text block into a form or list.

    tell application “System Events”
    set frontApp to name of (first process whose frontmost is true)

    try
    set clipRecord to (the clipboard as record)
    set fullClipText to (the clipboard as text)
    activate
    set myChoice to (choose from list (paragraphs of fullClipText))
    on error
    set myChoice to false
    end try
    end tell

    tell application frontApp to activate
    if myChoice is not false then
    set the clipboard to (myChoice as text)
    delay 0.1
    tell application “System Events” to keystroke “v” using {command down}
    delay 0.1
    set the clipboard to clipRecord
    end if

    • Eurobubba, thanks so much for sharing this.

      I tried executing the script as an application, but it keeps pasting the selected text to the AppleScript application window. I can’t get it to paste the the selected text to a designated application. I also tried running it a Keyboard Maestro script.

      Could you let me know what I’m doing wrong?

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