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Summary:

I can’t count the number of times I’ve copied something on one computer and needed to paste it in to an application on another. Whether it’s moving emails and links around or composing a document from multiple pieces, this seems to be a common activity for me. If you’re in the same boat and you deal with this problem by sending yourself emails, stop. Instead, take a look at this selection of ways to break down the walls with clipboard sharing.

Like many web workers, I’ve got multiple computers on my desk (or under it), sporting a variety of operating systems. Moving back and forth between computers has its annoyances, including dealing with different keyboard feels and different keystroke combinations. But there’s one annoyance you can do something about: the fact that each computer has its own clipboard.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve copied something on one computer and needed to paste it in to an application on another. Whether it’s moving emails and links around or composing a document from multiple pieces, this seems to be a common activity for me. If you’re in the same boat and you deal with this problem by sending yourself emails, stop. Instead, take a look at this selection of ways to break down the walls with clipboard sharing.To make my list, a utility has to be designed for use on my own network, without an external server component. While there are many things I’m happy to do over the web, sharing the entire contents of my clipboards is not one of them.

Windows Solutions

Softtech’s Remote Clipboard is a free and minimalist clipboard sharing application for Windows. It shares the clipboard from each computer where it is installed, and adds a tray icon menu to let you grab the contents of any shared clipboard.

Network Clipboard gives you automatic clipboard sharing for Windows computers on a network. It couples this with a clipboard viewer and a log so that you can go back and grab things that were copied in the past. Pricing starts at $9.95, with quantity discounts.


ClipMate 7
pushes Windows clipboard extension about as far as you can go. This includes sharing as one minor feature – you also get a searchable database of your past clippings, case conversion and reformatting, spell check, screen capture, and printing direct from ClipMate. These features come at a cost: $34.95 for a single-user, two-computer license.

OS X Solutions

ClipboardSharing is a free application for OS X. It offers the ability to pull the clipboard contents from another computer, or to push from your current machine to another on your network. It can also keep multiple clipboards synchronized, though I wasn’t able to get this feature working on OS X Leopard. It also maintains a clipboard history. ClipboardSharing is free, though donations are encouraged.

Spike is my current choice for sharing on OS X. I like that it lets you keep many shared clipboards, and that it keeps a good history of what you’ve clipped across reboots. You can drag content straight out of Spike to any application where you need to paste it. Pricing starts at $7 per copy, dropping to $5 per copy if you buy five or more lice,nses.

Cross-platform Solutions

For a truly heterogeneous network, you might want to look at Synergy. It runs on Windows, OS X, and Linux, and merges the clipboards of all connected systems. Synergy is not primarily a clipboard-sharing tool; rather, it’s designed to let you share a single mouse and keyboard across multiple computers. The OS X version is somewhat lagging in features, but it does work.

CrossClip is a commercial application for Windows, OS X, and Linux. You can choose on a machine-by-machine basis whether CrossClip should automatically send to the shared network clipboard, automatically get the contents, or both. CrossClip costs $19.95 per group of networked computers.

Have you got your own favorite tool for sharing clipboards? What are you using?

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  1. cl1p.net is also worth looking at for a cross platform solution.

  2. You forgot the best one for windows: Ditto.

  3. textsnip.com is pretty good too

  4. It’s way more then a clipboard tool (and priced to match), but I like Timbuktu Pro on the Mac, it is a remote control solution, and also lets you optionally share clipboard with the various computers you are controlling. I used it to control a dozen different Macs and it works really well.

  5. I did a lot of searching for a remote clipboard a while back. I didn’t have much luck until I came across a freebie called BeyondCopy. A client is required to be installed on each computer, but it works a treat.

    Ditto also looks good. Hadn’t come across that one.

  6. You should also try it online:

    http://tuu.fi/notepad/

    Try creating your own private pad.

  7. We are intensely using DropCopy at family level on (i. e. daily on a 5-macintosh network), it’s extremely user-friendly and handles both clipboard sharing and file exchange
    http://10base-t.com/macintosh-software/dropcopy/

  8. Synergy (synergy.sf.net) takes this one step further – you can share the mouse, keyboard and clipboard between workstations.

  9. My bad, completely missed that you already covered it..

  10. Synergy stopped devl in 2006 as per sourceforge.

  11. Thanks for the post — serves as a great starting point for Google searchers. However, most of these solutions seem like overkill for my simple cross platform copy/paste needs, so I’ve instead arranged some command line puzzle pieces to accomplish the core task. Data transfer is left as an exercise, but stashing the data in a shared folder textfile works fine for me. I have Kubuntu and Windows snippets so far:

    Kubuntu – Set clipboard data:
    #!/bin/sh
    dcop klipper klipper setClipboardContents “$*”
    Kubuntu — Get clipboard data:
    #!/bin/sh
    #get/echo:
    dcop klipper klipper getClipboardContents

    Windows XP/WSH — Set clipboard data .vbs:
    ‘ adapted from Frank-Peter Schultze http://www.fpschultze.de/smartfaq+faq.faqid+53.htm
    If WScript.Arguments.Count Then
    t = WScript.Arguments(0)
    With WScript.CreateObject(“InternetExplorer.Application”)
    .Navigate “about:blank”
    Do Until .ReadyState = 4 : WScript.Sleep 50 : Loop
    .document.ParentWindow.ClipboardData.SetData “text”, t
    End With
    End If

    Windows XP/WSH — Get clipboard data .vbs:
    ‘ adapted from Frank-Peter Schultze http://www.fpschultze.de/smartfaq+faq.faqid+53.htm
    With WScript.CreateObject(“InternetExplorer.Application”)
    .Navigate “about:blank”
    Do Until .ReadyState = 4 : WScript.Sleep 50 : Loop
    WScript.echo .document.ParentWindow.ClipboardData.GetData(“text”)
    End With

    These .vbs load up a hidden IE in the background in order to access the clipboard, so take a few seconds to run, but this is the only transparent (non-binary, no software install, source available) way I’ve found so far.

    Now I just need OS X scripts and the subsequent key bindings to finish off my DIY clipboard tool! ;)

  12. Torsten Uhlmann Saturday, August 22, 2009

    I’m the author if Simidude, a cross platform clipboard and personal file sharing application.

    Simidude runs on Windows, Mac and Unix. It makes it easy to synchronize your machines clipboards, keep a clipboard history or share files and whole directories between machines.

    Simidude is available at http://www.simidude.com

    Kind Regards, Torsten Uhlmann

  13. Hi everyone,

    While all these tools are great, my situation I wanted addressed was for a typical corporate network, when it’s not possible to change firewall settings, or install programs, and there’s a real security problem with sharing possibly classified data across the network for the clipboards.

    Therefore I’ve written the little open-source tool called ClipBoardMultiSharer which can be found here:
    http://clipboardmshare.sourceforge.net/

    This is quite a low-tech tool with no installer, it relies on Windows file sharing, and supports only text data.

    However, this also means you only need access to a common shared network folder such as a personal space typically provided at a corporate network, and by using such a folder you can safely and securely share clipboard data conveniently.

    Regards,
    Toshak

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