Copy that! A Lesson in Clipboard History

Clipboard history is an underutilized feature of Windows 10 which can be very helpful when needing to cut, copy, and paste more than one item. We go over the benefits, the flaws and the steps to using this built in tool.

    A simple question was posed to me the other day. Is there a way you can copy two things at once? My friend was working in Excel and finding that he needed this functionality, but he wasn’t sure if it existed. I told him about clipboard history and it ended up saving him a lot of effort and time on his work.

    Clipboard history used to only be available in third party applications, but was introduced into Windows 10 OS in a 2018 update. This feature is super useful if you want to copy more than one thing, or if you’re used to copying something new before pasting the first copied item. Maybe you copied a link or a meme to send to a friend, but then want to send it to someone else later. Clipboard history has got you covered.

    Keyboard shortcut to view clipboard items

    Hold down the Windows key and the v key to access clipboard history.

    Keys in the keyboard shortcut are hightlighted in orange.

    Chances are, if you’re reading this article then this is your first time using this feature. It will start by saying it can’t show you the history. Click the blue “Turn on” button at the bottom. 

    This happy clipboard is telling you to use history to your advantage.

    You can also access through your settings by going to settings > system > clipboard. From there you can toggle clipboard history on and off.

    You can find settings easily in your start menu or your action center.
    There are additional clipboard settings to explore but we are focusing on clipboard history near the top.

    Once this setting has been turned on, using Windows plus V will show you each item you copied or cut recently.

    Restore a previous item from the clipboard

    When you open clipboard history you can review what has been copied. Simply click the item you need to paste it into your application.

    Scroll up and down to see more items in your clipboard history.

    I reccommend making sure your cursor is where you want to paste the item in the clipboard as clicking it will paste it where it is. (You can always move it again but an ounce of prevention…)

    Discarding a clipboard item

    Removing items from your clipboard history is simple, and can be important if you copied potentially sensitive information like a password.

    Hover over the text or image you want to remove. This will reveal an x in the upper righthand corner. Click the x to remove that one item.

    The x will delete the item from the clipboard as stated.

    Want it all gone? You can tap “clear all” at the top to discard all the items in your clipboard history.

    Clear all will wipe the slate clean of your clipboard history save for pinned items.

    You can also clear all clipboard data from the same settings page from earlier. Additionally, you clipboard history will always be cleared when you restart your computer.

    Caveats and why clipboard history is off by default

    Clipboard generally uses an insignificant amount of computer resources. Keeping more items on the clipboard uses memory. If you follow Valiant standards for machines, you shouldn’t notice any degradation in performance. However, if maxing out your memory has been a problem in the past, you may want to reconsider turning clipboard history on.

    Don’t expect this to keep everything you copied for all eternity. When it reaches its size limit it will remove items to free up space. You can pin items to the top to prevent them from being discarded, but use this feature sparingly.

    If clipboard history doesn’t appear when you open it, its possible you are running an older version of Windows 10 that doesn’t have this feature yet. Contact your IT account manager about getting an update. 

    It’s also not available on Mac natively, but there may be some third party applications and workarounds you can look into.

    Call your CIO or IT manager to enable updates and get clipboard history.

    Clipboard history can enhance your workflow and efficiency. Try it for yourself! For more Windows 10 tips, check out our video library.

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