Paste Review: Get a deep, visual history of everything you’ve copied to the clipboard

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Apple didn’t invent the concept of the clipboard — the place an item goes when you copy it (Command-C) — but the company has made extensive use of it for decades. It’s helpful to always have a place to drop something temporarily. However, I’ve been baffled since Apple refused to bring the multipage Scrapbook from System 9 to Mac OS X 10.0 more than twenty years ago, that macOS never had a built-in way to preserve older clipboard items.

This has led to both dedicated clipboard utilities, such as competitor PasteBot, and clipboard history features in unrelated apps. Paste is one of the best of these, offering not only a potentially infinite clipboard history, but also syncing between macOS, iOS, and iPadOS at no extra cost.

After installation, invoke Paste by pressing Command-Shift-V, the default macOS keystroke in most Paste and Match Style apps. (You can change this keyboard shortcut.) This will bring up something that looks like a banner at the bottom of your screen; if you have multiple screens, Paste intelligently brings up the banner you are currently focusing on by interacting with a window or app.

The Paste banner shows samples or full text of the last few copied items. It displays thumbnails of media and rich text, while generating a link preview for copied URLs. You can double-click an item to paste it, or select one or more items to copy, rename, delete, or preview via Quick Look.

The main Paste interface is a banner that spans the bottom of a screen with extensive previews.

If the currently open window or cursor selection point is compatible, such as plain text or rich text with a word processor or an open document in an image editor, the item will be pasted into the app. Otherwise, it will only be transferred to the active clipboard. However, you are not limited to just pasting. Items can be dragged from Paste History to a document or window.

While you can scroll back in time in Paste History by holding Command and scrolling right, you can also search for saved items. Paste recognizes data types, you can add “link” or “image” to a search to limit matches to those categories. You can also create ‘pinboards’, which are saved sets of items that can be accessed via the Paste banner.

Customize Paste to suit your needs, including adjusting the depth of the saved clipboard history.

You can customize Paste in a number of ways to shape how you want to “remember” it and to work via Paste > Preferences. The main option is “History Capacity” in General Settings: you can set it to a depth of a day, week, month, year or unlimited. If you typically simplify rich text to plain text and remove all formatting, you can enable “Always paste as plain text” to avoid having to add a modifier key while pasting. The Shortcuts tab allows you to change keystrokes and modifier keys for important app actions.

For privacy and security, Paste’s Rules tab allows you to exclude copying items from apps such as 1Password and optionally when the app thinks the clipboard contains a password or confidential data.

The paste stack collects copy operations for easy replay in form fields.

You can use Paste on multiple devices without syncing, but that seems like a waste of technology. Enable iCloud sync in Paste > Preferences > Sync and in the iOS and iPadOS versions of the app if you install it, and you can access the same copied items on all your devices almost as soon as you press Command-C or use a Copy menu item.

If you routinely select items to paste into form fields, such as name and address information, you can use a stacking feature in Paste called the Paste Stack. As you paste into the field, items are collected. Click on a button at the top and the field order will change. You can then press Command-V to paste each item in succession. Each paste operation removes the top item from the stack.

The stack is not persistent in sessions and is dangerously easy to close accidentally, as the default show and hide shortcut is Command-Shift-C – too close to Command-C to copy! Pressing the shortcut with a series of items on it will close the stack and erase the contents. If you plan on using the feature, I recommend immediately changing the keyboard shortcut to something much harder to press.

Sold only through Apple’s App Stores, Paste relies on a single subscription that covers all your iOS, iPadOS, and macOS devices: $1.99 per month or $14.99 per year for an individual. A $19.99 annual family plan extends unlimited use to your Family Sharing group. The company offers a 14-day trial on its subscription.

For a never-ending clipboard history of graphical previews and custom saved groups, Paste is an excellent iteration of the most prominent missing feature of Apple’s operating systems. Paste can be the star of the clipboard that your devices revolve around.

With the Mac boom in recent years, we want to celebrate the tools we use and recommend to readers to get the most out of your macOS experience. Mac Gems highlights great pieces of Mac software, apps that are highly useful, have a sharp focus on a limited number of problems to solve, and are generally developed by an individual or small business. Stay tuned for weekly updates and send your suggestions to the Mac Gems Twitter feed (@macgems).

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