What is the Clipboard?

May 11, 2012

The Clipboard is a name for a storage location in Windows. When you do a copy or cut command, the information you copy or cut goes into the clipboard. Then when you do a paste command, the information in the clipboard is used to fill the area you are pasting too. So, in a nutshell, the clipboard is just a temporary storage area that is used for copying, cutting, and pasting.

Older versions of Windows had a program called Clipboard Viewer in the start menu so you could go and see what was in the clipboard. But eventually Microsoft realized nobody used that program. They didn’t get rid of it, but if you want it you have to go and install it. But why would you want to? If you want to see what’s in the clipboard, you can open a program like Word and do a paste. But really, a copy/cut and then paste are usually done right after each other so you pretty much always know what’s in the clipboard. If you aren’t sure, re-copy before you paste.

The Windows Clipboard can only hold one set of information at a time. If you copy something into the clipboard and then copy something else, the newer one replaces the old one.

While we are on the subject, do you know the commands for cut, copy, and paste?

First, use the mouse to highlight text and/or pictures. Then you will use either the copy or cut commands to put what you highlighted in the clipboard. The only difference between cut and copy is that copy simply makes a copy whereas cut removes the highlighted information. When you use cut, the information is only in the clipboard and not where you highlighted it.

To do a copy, there are generally 4 ways. Most programs have an edit menu and you can choose Edit and then copy. Or you can right-click on what you highlighted with the mouse and choose copy from the pop-up menu. Or there are two keyboard shortcuts that can be used. Control-C or Control-Insert. Cut is similar. You can use Edit/Cut from the menu, right-click and choose cut with the mouse, or use Control-X or Shift-Delete.

Once you have something in the clipboard, you can now paste it somewhere. Click the mouse in the location where you want to paste. To paste, you can do Edit/Paste from the menu, right-click with the mouse and choose paste from the pop-up menu, or you can use Control-V or Shift-Insert.

I personally like using Control-C, Control-X, and Control-V.

If you make a mistake, don’t worry. Just hit Control-Z to undo.

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