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What is Clipboard?

Common information

The clipboard is a handy tool you can use to temporary store data when it is copied or moved between documents or applications. When you copy or cut some data (text, pictures, files and other), it is put to the clipboard and is stored there until you paste it to some other place.

Physically clipboard is a part of graphical user interface and is usually implemented as a short-term, anonymous block of memory that can be accessed from most or all programs within the environment.

Most environments support a single clipboard transaction. Clipboard contents is always overwritten by every copy or cut operation. Usually paste operations copy the contents and leave it available in the clipboard for next pasting operations. Data stored in clipboard is lost when you shut down your computer.

There are a lot of third party software that extend capacity of clipboard and allow you to store ten, hundred or even unlimited amount of clips simultaneously.

Clipboard data formats

Previously the clipboard stored data as plain text. It did not store typeface, type style or color. Now complex data structures can be stored, so you can copy&paste styled text formats such as RTF or HTML, audio and video fragments, files and whole folders, through a variety of bitmap and vector image formats to complex data types like spreadsheets and database entries.

Not all applications can interpret every flavor that a clipboard supports. Often applications will attempt to translate complex formats into simpler ones they can handle. Many text editors, for example, translate structured data from the clipboard into plain text. This is a common way for users to convert small selections of data into plain text for various purposes.


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