Monday, February 21, 2011

Windows: one clipboard is not enough!

Too often I have found the need for more than one clipboard in Windows (a clipboard is what you use when you copy, cut and paste). There are various application specific solutions. UltraEdit has 9 inbuilt clipboards (control 0-9, 0 being the default, Windows clipboard). Eclipse has a very cool multi clipboard plugin. But I want something that will work across all applications.

Then I found out about the amazing Autohotkey utilities created by Florian Winkelbauer when they were written up on LifeHacker: DropPub Sends Any File to Dropbox’s Public Folder and Copies the Link to Your Clipboard. DropPub is a brilliant utility to send a file to your DropBox public folder, but the utility that I found more interesting was 4Clip - which gives you 4 extra clipboards linked to F1-F4.

The basic functions are: select some text and press F1+c to copy, F1+v to paste, or F2, F3, F4 - each F key is linked to a different buffer or clipboard. It means you can now "keep in memory" five things at once - the normal Windows clipboard plus four more pieces of text linked to F1 - F4.

Best thing to do is put the exe (or a shortcut to it) in your Windows Startup folder (C:\Documents and Settings\...your username ...\Start Menu\Programs\Startup) so that it will start up automatically with Windows. It's a small utility - taking 4.6 kb on my Windows XP. See the readme.txt included to see other functions.

Florian gives you a zip file including the source and exe file, but the exe is all you really need. I have been using this pretty much daily since I read about it on LifeHacker. But when I asked Florian if he could make it use all the F keys (12 clipboards) he responded within hours with (link gone for now). So, extra props to you Florian - thank you very much!