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How do I ... use ArsClip to enhance the Windows clipboard?

ArsClip monitors the Windows (98, Me, 2000, XP, and Vista) clipboard and keeps track of the last 15 levels (the default amount) of copied text entries. Jack Wallen shows you how to use ArsClip to improve and enhance the default features of the Microsoft Windows clipboard.

There are many instances where you might need more than one level of copied data from the Microsoft Windows clipboard, but with the default action, you are out of luck. Once you have copied data to the default clipboard, that's all you get. If you need another level of copy, you're going to have to look elsewhere. Fortunately there is somewhere you can look, and that somewhere is a stellar freeware application called ArsClip.

ArsClip monitors the Windows clipboard and keeps track of the last 15 levels (the default amount) of copied text entries. The utility can be configured to show more items in the clipboard popup and can be configured to also save non-text items. ArsClip resides in the system tray, takes up little resources, has a configurable hot key, and is simple to use. The only downside to ArsClip is that it must be manually started every time you log in. But that is a small price to pay for having a far more usable clipboard. With all that said, let's get to the goods.

This blog post is also available in PDF format as a TechRepublic download. Other How Do I... blog posts can be found on the TechRepublic Focus Page.

Getting and installing

Download the zip file from the joejoesoft Web site and unzip the file. You will find a new directory created called acvXXX (where XXX is the version number of the download). Switch to that directory and you will find one file, five uncompressed directories, and one compressed directory. The file is the executable binary. The compressed directory is the source code for the application. One of the uncompressed directories is the configuration directory, and the rest of the uncompressed directories are cache folders for the application.

Because of the way ArsClip uses its cache directories, you cannot move the executable file out of the acvXXX directory. You can, however, create a shortcut to the executable anywhere you like. So you might want to move the acvXXX directory to a location other than your Downloads directory so that it is safe from accidental removal. Just make sure you remember where you put it.

Starting ArsClip

Starting the application is simple; from within the acvXXX directory you will see the ArsClip executable file. Double-click on that file, and ArsClip will immediately appear in the system tray, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

The far-left icon is the ArsClip system tray icon.

Once the ArsClip icon is in the system tray, the program is up and running.

Using ArsClip

This little gem of a software utility is simple to use. Once you have copied text to the clipboard, it will appear in the ArsClip popup. Let me demonstrate. To open the ArsClip popup, press the default key combination Ctrl-Shift-Z. When you hit that combination, the popup will appear, showing the last 15 text items you copied. Figure B illustrates this default action.

Figure B

The text appears in reverse chronological order (the most recent at the top of the list).

To paste your text into a document, press Ctrl-Shift-Z and then select the text you want to paste. Once you click on the text, it will appear where your cursor is in your document. Even though you have pasted text from your clipboard, that text will remain in the clipboard so that you can use it again and again.

You do not have to actually move your fingers away from the keyboard should you not want to. As you can see in the popup, each entry will also have a number associated with it. Looking back at Figure B, I can see that if I want to paste the text "Let me demonstrate" I would hit the number 2 once the ArsClip popup was showing. The text would then appear at the cursor.

If you want to flush the clipboard, you can right-click the system tray icon and select the Flush option.

Configuration

Configuring ArsClip is equally as simple. If you right-click the system tray icon, you will see an entry for Configure, which opens up the configuration window shown in Figure C.

Figure C

There are a number of interesting configuration options with ArsClip.

The first configuration option you might want to take a look at is the Text Items and Non-Text Items under the Clipboard entry. In these two sections, you can configure text item formatting issues and enable non-text monitoring. Text item formatting includes:

  • Removing whitespace from URLs
  • Replacing formatted text with plain text
  • Copying filenames as plain text
  • Not ignoring case when detecting new items

If you enable non-text items, you will want to make sure to configure a reasonable size limit for items.

One important configuration option is how many copied items will show in the popup. Click on the Show Options item under the Popup configuration listing. There are three particular items you can adjust:

  • Show -- Text items on the popup
  • Show -- Non-text items on the popup
  • Show -- Recently removed items in a submenu

Permanent items

You can also create permanent items that will always be available in ArsClip. To set up a permanent item in ArsClip, right-click the system tray icon and select Permanent Items. A new window will appear (Figure D) where you can add/edit permanent items.

Figure D

As you can see, I have already created a permanent item for an SSH command.
To create a new permanent item, click the New Item button in the right pane. A new window will open (Figure E) where you can set it up.

Figure E

You can either manually enter the permanent item in the text area or you can click the Get from Clipboard As button, which will paste the most recently used item into the text area.

It is very important that you assign a global hotkey to the permanent item. If you do not, you will have no way of using your permanent items. To set a hotkey, click the Set button in the hotkey area to open up the Set window. When the Set window opens, enter the key combination you want to use as the hotkey. If the combination is valid, the Set Button will become available; click it to set the hotkey for the permanent item.

You can also set up keystrokes and commands with your permanent items. Say you want to have a permanent item that will Tab, enter today's date, and return. For this, do the following:

  • Click New Item in the Permanent Items main window.
  • Check the Use Keystrokes/Commands option.
  • Click in the Text area for the permanent item.
  • Click the Tab button in the Keystrokes/Commands area.
  • Click the Date button in the Keystrokes/Commands area.
  • Click the Enter button in the Keystrokes/Commands area.
  • Create a hotkey.
  • Click Save.

Now when you click the hotkey for this item you will see something like:

      01/25/2009

Final thoughts

For anyone who does a lot of document work, an expanded clipboard in Windows is tantamount to efficiency. With ArsClip you can have a clipboard that is as powerful as you need it to be.

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About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

26 comments
mscoulter
mscoulter

I am settling for arsclip for now, but the best clipboard utility ever was called Classic Clipboard. Unfortunately, it will not work beyond windows xp. I have tried a few of these clip utilities and not one comes close to the ease of use I was accustomed to. The GUI of Classic Clipboard is unsurpassed. Everything is point and click and drag and drop. If you have an XP machine, you can still get it to try and see what I mean. I wish a developer would come up with something similar because I would gladly pay for it.

bblackmoor
bblackmoor

I love ArsClip. It suits my needs, with less fuss, better than any alternative I have tried. Unfortunately, it crashes OpenOffice. So for now, I am using Ditto, which I do not like anywhere near as much. I will try Yankee Clipper, though.

abacrotto
abacrotto

Jack: this is a great tool. A remote support geek can use it very much. I really like it. I have, however, a question about it. I use Windows Vista Basic 32bit and I can not paste in a command prompt window (cmd.exe). Does the same thing happen in your system ? Do I have to set things up before ? Thanks for all. Regards. Ariel from Bah?a Blanca, door to The Patagonia, Argentina.

jehouston
jehouston

Yankee Clipper has many more features and is also freeware program. I have used it for many years and still works great! I have tried other clipboard programs but none work as good as Yankee Clipper or has as many features. http://www.intelexual.com/products/YC3/

herbert
herbert

Currently using the Flashpaste which is not bad and has been serving well. But ArsClip is blowing me expecially the user configurable shortcut features - LOVING IT!

misiaczku2008-techrep
misiaczku2008-techrep

I use winpatrol and just added the program to the startup section. It seems to work!

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Do you use an enhanced clipboard? Which one and how do you like it?

ramicitrom
ramicitrom

Hi, To easily paste in a command window, you need to activate the quick edit mode. Right click on the window's title and select "properties". Go to the "options" tab, and check the QuickEdit mode. No you can paste with mouse right click. To do this for all command windows, select "defaults" instead of "properties" and re-open your command window.

bassman77
bassman77

YCIII is flexible, with useful features available but these don't get in the way of the primary function which offers rapid and convenient retrieval of previous clipboard entries.

wayneglass
wayneglass

I have used ClipCache for years. I it simple to use and very reliable.

Gildawie
Gildawie

By the description in the article, Arsclip is quite limited in its default captures, can't be configured to start with windows, and has not much in the way of configurable options. ClipMagic (free) and ClipMate (fairly reasonably priced)do a much better job "out of the box", as does Yankee Clipper which someone else mentioned. Another non-useful tip from TechRepublic.

sysadm
sysadm

I've been using Clipboard Recorder from LW-Works Software. Its free and works great! I've configured it to use Ctrl-Win-V for paste. When you press down and hold Ctrl-Win and tap V, the window comes up showing the last several items you've copied and each successive "V" goes to the next item in the list. When you have the one you want, just release the Ctrl-Win and that item is in your paste buffer and is pasted to where the cursor is. If you "V" past the one you wanted, you can use the arrow keys to go back (or otherwise move around the list). You can also use your mouse to select the item you want, but its nice to be able to stay near the default Ctrl-V for pasting. I may give this ArsClip a try though and see how it works out. Thanks Mark!

pnboucher
pnboucher

To have ARS automatically load when Windows is started - 1. Simply create and sent a Shortcut to the Desktop. 2. Move the Shortcut into the default Startup folder file, something like c:\Documents and Settings\Your Name\Start Menu\Programs\Startup 3: Restart Windows. ARS shows up in the bottom-right of the Task Bar. No need for any special program to add the program to Start.

Snak
Snak

Who the hell calls a program 'ArsClip'????

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

ArsClip is a valid application. We are all happy that you have alternative suggestions and offered them here. THAT is what makes TechRepublic useful - the members adding to the conversation. I really don't know what could be more useful than one good suggestion followed by other equally good suggestions. Lighten up - life is too short to spend it angry all the time.

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

If it wasn't for this article, we would not have learned of the other tools. Even you, with your bad attitude, contributed two useful tools.

DWalker88001
DWalker88001

"There are many instances where you might need more than one level of copied data from the Microsoft Windows clipboard, but with the default action, you are out of luck. Once you have copied data to the default clipboard, that?s all you get. If you need another level of copy, you?re going to have to look elsewhere." Windows, by default, has a viewer that lets you see the one thing that is in the clipboard: the file is called %windir%\system32\clipbrd.exe. Windows 2000 had a multi-item clipboard (called the clipbook), but apparently it didn't work in XP.

cmaritz
cmaritz

Oh my hat and my coat I only stopped laughing MUCH later ... eeh ... *ahem* No wait I know, because "ArsCut" and "ArsPaste" would convey the wrong kind of image!

HowardOrgel
HowardOrgel

An American! To us in the UK, it might cause tears to run down the cheeks!

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

ArsClip was chosen by Jack as a tool he knows and uses. Neither I, nor Jack, nor TechRepublic has expressed any opinion on the relative merits of this app to other similar programs. This was a pure, "here is how you use ArsClip." As such, it accomplished exactly what it set out to do. Now, your suggestions for roundups and reviews of other similar applications are all great. Write them up, send them to me and, if they meet the editorial requirements, I'll publish them. My problem was the idea that this blog post was useless - it most certainly was not.

Jim-MN
Jim-MN

Let's disregard his expressed disgust (I wouldn't call it anger) with the value of a TechRepublic "article" promoting a single Windows Clipboard enhancer/replacement. I think a better article would have been an overview of several of those products, with the author's reasons for recommending each or not. I also think there are (many free) clearly better products than ArsClip no matter what the criteria, except perhaps for someone who really values the Permanent text feature, and for them there are other products that provide that feature alone and far better. Further, most techies that use Windoze have sought and found at least one good clipboard tool (I prefer Ditto, with PureText added for its shortcut to plain-text paste) and will like it better than ArsClip as described, so in that sense I think he's right, it wasn't a very useful article. So let's maximize the value we get from every contribution, by avoiding fixating on the (assumed, in this case) emotional state of the contributor and paying attention to the facts. So there. :D Jim

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

My point is, it could have been done without the whining about the usefulness (or lack thereof) of the article. I see far too many people on these boards complaining about the articles. We can all usually learn something from them. If not the articles, then the comments which broaden and amplify the articles. The author selected something he thought would be useful probably knowing that the readers would suggest their favorites. He can't cover everything. Your comment was great until that one sentence. Now I have several clipboard extenders to look into, including yours.

Gildawie
Gildawie

Whether you like my attitude or not, don't you agree it would have been better for TR's article to focus on some of the better clipboard extenders instead of the unknown and less useful Arsclip? The useful tools are in the comments and not in the article, which was my point.

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

I'm an American and I had the same reaction it sounds like you did. Had a good laugh at the name.