iClip: The Best Clipboard Manager for the Mac

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I copy, cut, and paste dozens of snippets of text nearly everyday, and that’s why I’m very happy to report that the clipboard manager iClip is now a 64 bit application and is ready for the macOS Catalina.

I’ve been using iClip for a few years now, but I held off writing a full review of it because I didn’t know if it would be upgraded to 64 bit. Now, with the new 5.5.1 release of iClip, I can highly recommend this clipboard manager as one of the best in its category. A clipboard manager is essential for anyone who does a significant amount of typing and content creation on your Mac.

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What’s a Clipboard Manager

In case you don’t know, a clipboard manager is an application that retains all or specified number of clippings you make on your computer.

You’re no doubt familiar with the macOS feature that allows you to copy (Command+C) and paste (Command+v) text in and between text documents. But the Mac’s universal clipboard only retains one piece of text at a time. Each time you copy new text, it overwrites the current text on the macOS clipboard.

macOS clipboard
The macOS clipboard

If you want to see the Mac clipboard, click on the Finder > Edit > Show Clipboard. The universal clipboard is not even a full blown application, so for Mac power users and automators, it’s not very useful.

Clipboard managers like iClip can retain all your clippings so you can select and paste one or more of them when needed.

Let’s see how iClip works.

iClip Clipboard Manager

iClip clipboard manager
iClip Clipboard Manager

iClip is an application that you can access from the menu bar or from a designated part of your desktop.

iClip remains visible, but unobtrusively parked and ready to use on the left side of my desktop for when I need it. For me iClip serves as both a clipboard manager and notebook of clippings.

iClip consist of a collection of bins and clipping sets that can retain all your copied text and even images. So when you copy selected text by any method it automatically gets added to the Recorder of iClip. You can also toggle off the recording to not capture copies you make.

The iClip interface can also float anywhere on your screen, making it useful for selecting and pasting several clippings into a document. There’s also an option to automatically show and hid iClip — a handy feature for say laptop screens, or if you just want the application to remain completely out of the way until you need it.

Recorder and Clipping Sets

The iClip interface consist of two main parts, the Recorder and clipping sets. The Recorder captures all new clippings, while the clipping sets permantly retain clippings that you add to them.

In the video below, you can see how I use the text selection utility, PopClip to quickly copy text, and then the iClip Recorder automatically captures. In some supporting applications, you can also select and drag text to an open bin, or replace the contents of a bin with a new clipping.

The Recorder captures all your clippings you make on your computer.

Clipping Sets

iClip bins can be named

iClip also allows for creating multiple clipping sets to retain and archive collections of clippings.

Each clipping set can contain over a hundred bins of clippings. You can copy or move a selected clipping to one of your sets where it will never be overwritten.

You can even choose to overlay clippings with a name, as well as move or sort clipping bins by type, name, creation or modification date. And you can actually edit clippings in a bin, a feature that is pretty unique among clipboard managers.

Clipping sets can be managed and deleted, and you can also export and import clipping sets, which also means that can be shared with other iClip users.

Do you want more? You got it. You can also duplicate clipping sets, search clippings, paste or clear all the bins in a set, AND copy a multiple lines of text to multiple bins with a single keyboard shortcut.

Copy multiple lines of text to multiple bins

Clipping Actions

iClip contains dozens of actions beyond just pasting selected clippings. Depending on the content of the clipping, you can right-click on a bin, you can paste the clipping or copied image back to the Mac clipboard, or to the Finder (if it’s a copied image or movie file.)

If the clipping is URL, you can actually select to open the URL in a web browser without having to manually paste it to a web browser window.

If you have some AppleScript chops, you can run a script on a selected bin of text, such as a script for converting the text to title case or running and pasting the results of a copied numeric calculation. For instance, if I copy 423*23, and the run the script, it will replace the equation with the result.

iClip also supports service menu actions that you have running in your computer. For example, you can select a bin with text or an image and share it to your Evernote application, or perform a Google search.

Hot Clicks and Hot Keys

Another feature unique to iClip is its over two dozen clipping functions and actions that make it easier to trigger iClip related actions. These settings are in iClip preferences.

Hotkey Actions

You can assign custom hotkeys for various functions, including the following:

Hot key setting for iClip
Hot Key functions in iClip Preferences
  • Showing and hiding the iClip window
  • Switching between Recorder and next clipping set
  • Switching back to the Recorder set
  • Clearing all bins in a set
  • Turning the recorder on or off
  • Pasting plain text from the bin

Since I’m not good at remembering hotkeys or keyboard shortcuts, I’ve mapped some of my iClip hotkeys to BetterTouchTool finger gestures and Keyboard Maestro (KM) string triggers. For example, I can quickly toggle the Recorder set by clicking on the bottom-left corner of my Magic trackpad. I also can use a KM macro to quickly clear all the Recorder simply by typing the assigned string trigger, “clearbin”, which triggers the assigned hotkey for that iClip action.

You can also assign a hotkey combination to what is called the “Invoke Hot Key Operation” which basically invokes a floating pallet of iClip actions that you select and trigger one of over a dozen functions.

Hot Click Actions

You can assign hotkey combinations for numerous actions, including:

Hot clicks functions for iClip
Hot Click settings in iClip Preferences
  • Editing a clipping bin
  • Making bin’s content plain text
  • Moving a clip to another clip set
  • Opening a copied URL in a web browser
  • Inserting a new bin

So for example, when I double-click on a bin that contains a URL, it automatically opens the URL in my Safari web browser. When I Option-click on a bin, it clears the content of the bin, and when I Command-click on a bin, it opens the text box for me to edit the name of the clipping.

You can custom set the modification key settings for best how you remember them.

Other Features

Other features in iClip include:

  • The ability to search clippings.
  • Save searches.
  • The ability to export import clipping sets.
  • Copying all clippings from a set.
  • Pasting separate lines of text to individual bins.
  • Share and synchronize clippings via Dropbox.

To discover all that iClip has to offer, you can click on the iClip icon in the menu bar or on the top left of the user interface, and then click iClip Help. Or you can read the iClip manual.

Are you interested in a short course about using iClip?

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  • I thought that app was dead years ago. The website looks like it’s not changed in 10 years. Standalone clipboard app’s are really a thing of the past. App’s like Launchbar and Keyboard Maestro all have clipboard managers built into them.

    • Hmmm, I use the clipboard features of both Alfred and KM, but I still find iClip to be useful for the features I highlighted in the article, especially the clipboard sets that can be created and easily accessed.

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