Managing Clipboards

2016-11-23

The X10 window system specified buffers named cut buffers for saving snippets of arbitrary text. Cut buffers were since replaced by so-called seletions with the introduction of the X11 window system. In X11, there are three types of selections: PRIMARY, SECONDARY, and CLIPBOARD. Any type of selection is often simply referred to as the clipboard. For matters of consistency, X11 applications must use only a single selection type (this was different under X10 where an application was able to control multiple cut buffers). Applications typically only use either PRIMARY or CLIPBOARD (check the ArchWiki and Inter-Client Communication Conventions Manual (ICCCM) for further information).

Some applications define their own keybindings (and let the user change them) for accessing selections. Common keybindings to copy text include Ctrl-C, Ctrl-Alt-C, Ctrl-Shift-C, and Ctrl-Insert. To cut text, i.e., to copy text to a selection while deleting it in the application, the bindings Ctrl-X, Ctrl-Alt-X, Ctrl-Shift-X, and Shift-Delete are commonly used. Frequent keybindings for pasting text include Ctrl-V, Ctrl-Alt-V, Ctrl-Shift-V, and Shift-Insert. Text can often be copied to PRIMARY by selecting it using the mouse. A mouse middle-click commonly pastes text from PRIMARY into the application.

Clipboard managers allow for streamlining copy, cut, and paste operations involving different type of selections. Most clipboard managers keep a history of copied or cut text. Some managers are also able to consolidate selections by copying entered text from one selection to all other selections, thereby keeping the text buffers of the selections consistent. Additionally, some managers allow you to reorder and edit the text buffers. A list of clipboard managers for Linux is available from the ArchWiki.

One example of a feature-rich clipboard manager is CopyQ. Besides the aforementioned features, the program allows for cycling through the selection buffers and searching their content. Moreover, CopyQ supports Vim keybindings, can be controlled from the command-line, and is available under Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux. You can disable or enable mouse copy and paste actions in the program's preferences. In case the CopyQ window is in the background, the command copyq toggle brings the selection history to the foreground and in focus, thus allowing you to access any selection buffer. Setting a keybinding for copyq toggle in your window manager, enables you to have the CopyQ history readily available.

Permanent Link for Post

Managing Clipboards (2016-11-23)

Older Posts

  1. Multi-Screen Configuration Using Xrandr (2016-07-02)
  2. Email Backup and Migration using Thunderbird (2016-06-29)
  3. Automatic SSH Proxy Selection (2016-02-08)
  4. Set Color Temperature (2015-11-25)
  5. Completion Methods in Vim (2015-10-10)
  6. Fuzzing the mbed TLS Library (2015-09-26)
  7. SSH Weak Diffie-Hellman Group Identification Tool (2015-08-12)
  8. Building a Standing Desk for 50 Bucks (2015-01-25)
  9. High-DPI Displays under Linux (2014-12-23)
  10. Slow Wi-Fi on the Raspberry Pi (2014-06-15)
  11. XBMC on the RaspberryPi (2014-06-14)
  12. Turning the Raspberry Pi into a Game Console (2014-06-12)
  13. ZFS Backups to External Hard Drives (2014-03-23)
  14. Display the I/O Usage of a Process (2014-02-21)
  15. Determining Wireless Network Channel Usage (2014-02-09)
  16. Managing Web Files through a Repository (2013-08-17)
  17. Simple HTTP File Servers (2013-08-16)
  18. Protect your SSH Private Keys (2013-06-16)
  19. Forward Secrecy for HTTPS and Ephemeral Diffie-Hellman (2013-06-14)
  20. Markdown Preview Chrome Extension (2013-06-13)