Tip o’ the Week 457 – Clipboard improvements

ClippyWindows 10’s latest update – the October 2018 Update – has now started rolling out again, after a series of issues reported by some users about data going missing. Here’s how to get it if you don’t have it already and don’t want to wait until it trundles along via Windows Update.

One of the neat new features is a revamped clipboard – something that has been tried a few times before, supporting additional features like keeping a history of what you clip, and/or allowing clips to roam across different machines. This has at times been achieved in standalone apps (eg via The Garage), or through individual apps managing the process – did you know, for example, that Office had a clipboard that supported multiple items, back in 2000?

And it’s still available – in some respects – today, where you can see previous stuff you put in the clipboard; just click the little expand arrow out on the bottom-right of the clipboard tile on the Office Ribbon, to show the list or set the options for using it. It’s an Office feature, but will also remember items clipped from elsewhere.

In Windows 10 with the October 2018 update (version 1809: to check your version, press WindowsKey+R then enter winver), there’s a new paradigm for managing the clipboard right across Windows applications – and it harks back to the old CTRL-V key combo that is more than 50 years old itself… from ToW #133 (from mid-2012):

CTRL-V goes back a loooong way. Its first use was years ago in the “Quick Editor” – aka QED – co-developed by Butler Lampson, one of the giants of computer history, now employed as a “Technical Fellow” in Microsoft Research.
There are some other alumni of Xerox PARC nestled inside Microsoft too (as was Chuck Thacker, RIP) – in a few years in the 1970s, they invented or developed/perfected the mouse, Ethernet, the graphical bitmapped display, laser printing, the GUI as we know it, distributed computing and a whole load of other technology. If you’d like to read more about what they got up to at PARC, check out Dealers of Lightning.

The new clipboard mechanism is an opt-in arrangement, where you can carry on using the one-hit clipboard as normal, or you can enable history or even cross-device Syncing to allow multiple machines to get the same history, just like browsing history, Timeline etc can roam across different machines if you wish.

To access the new Clipboard UI, press WindowsKey+V. There isn’t much obvious control over the experience (other than enabling it via Settings).

For more on how to use the feature, see here or here.

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