7 Ways to a Unified Clipboard

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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