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How to Use the Clipboard on Windows 10

How to Use the Clipboard on Windows 10

Linsey Knerl
From crunching massive data sets to connecting people across the globe, it’s impossible to overstate the impact of modern technology. But it’s not just major advancements that simplify our lives – it’s the little things, too.
One of the more useful features of the modern PC is copying and pasting text and images from one document or program to another. This feature is known as the "clipboard" on Windows PCs, and its use has grown beyond shifting data on the same computer. With the clipboard, you can now copy and paste between different computers and mobile devices.
But how does it work? Learn more about the innovative features of the clipboard for Windows 10 in our guide. You may be surprised at how it can save you time and provide an easier way to communicate.

What is the Windows clipboard?

The latest clipboard, designed for Windows 10, is cloud-based. Its main feature is the ability to copy up to 25 pieces of text or images for later use. You can access these items on the same PC or a different one, so you can paste those same items into another application or program.

Pin feature

The “pin” feature is another notable perk. It’s perfect for when you need to use the same few items again and again. Instead of copying them to the clipboard over and over, you can pin them instead.
Use the pin feature when you need to paste your home address repeatedly, or when you want to use the same logo or avatar on your communications. Simply pin the item to the clipboard to retrieve it.

Remember to stay logged in

Remember to stay logged in
You can only access the same clipboard across multiple devices if you’re using the same Microsoft account and all of the devices use the Windows 10 operating system. If you’re logged into your Microsoft account but use your spouse’s computer with their account, for example, the shared clipboard (also known as “syncing”) won’t work.

How to enable Windows 10 clipboard

You have to enable the clipboard before you can use it. Here’s how:
  1. Open Settings, and click on System.
  2. Choose Clipboard.
  3. Toggle the Clipboard History to the “on” position.
Do you prefer keyboard shortcuts? Here’s how to access the clipboard on Windows with a few button presses:
  1. Press the Windows logo key + V at the same time.
  2. Select Turn On.
You can now use clipboard’s features, including Sync.

How to sync clipboard history on Windows 10

How to sync clipboard history on Windows 10
To use your clipboard data between devices, you need to enable Sync. If you use Microsoft OneDrive, Sync works similarly. First, log in to your Microsoft account on every device you plan to use. Then, enable syncing:
  1. Open Settings and click on System.
  2. Click on Clipboard and look for the Sync Across Devices section.
  3. Toggle the switch to the “on” position.
  4. Choose your syncing preference.
You can pick between automatic, which will always sync the text you copy and make it accessible to all your devices, or never automatically sync. The second option requires you to open the clipboard history every time you want to access something across your devices and specify it as syncable.
If you have privacy concerns, consider the second (non-automatic) option. It’s particularly important if you use your computer for work or don’t want anyone else who uses your devices to be able to paste items you didn’t intend to share.

How to clear clipboard history on Windows 10

You may not always want to save copied items on your clipboard forever. It makes sense then to delete what you will no longer use after a time. Delete your entire history using these steps:
  1. Open Settings and click on System.
  2. Click on Clipboard and look for “Clear Clipboard data".
  3. Click Clear.
This erases everything on your clipboard. If you have syncing enabled, it will delete it across your devices. However, anything you have pinned will remain until you delete them individually from the pinned menu.
If you want to delete things one by one, press the Windows key + V keyboard shortcut and go down the list of multiple items you have saved. Click the X button to delete the items you don’t want. If you don’t want to keep anything, you can also clear the entire history using the Clear all button.

How to use clipboard on Windows 10

If you have already copied and paste items, you will be very familiar with the new clipboard’s features. Also, fans of shortcuts will be happy to know you can still use the Ctrl + C keys to copy and the Ctrl + V keys to paste. You can also press the Windows key + V to access the clipboard items and see everything you copied from all devices and programs, such as Word and Excel.
When viewing those items, simply right-click on the one you want to access, then choose Copy or Cut. You can then paste it into place by pressing Ctrl + V.
Remember that it’s best to pin those items you use repeatedly. You can also pin and unpin items as needed, or remove them with the X button next to the item in the list.

How to disable the clipboard

There may come a time when you don’t want the clipboard to save everything. Here’s how to disable the clipboard:
  1. Open Settings and click on System.
  2. Click on Clipboard and toggle Clipboard history to the “off” position.
Keep in mind that you can’t save items to share between devices if you disable the clipboard. Simply toggle it back on if you want to use the Sync option or copy/paste items again.

Top clipboard troubleshooting tips

Top clipboard troubleshooting tips
Clipboard is easy to use, and chances are you won’t run into any issues. However, it’s still possible that you may experience some problems. Here are the most common errors, and their solutions.

1. I can’t see my clipboard history

It’s possible you didn’t enable your clipboard history. Use the steps above to enable the clipboard or click the Windows key + V to turn it on. If you powered down your computer recently, this will erase all of the items. The only items that remain are those you pinned.

2. I can’t copy something to the clipboard

If an item won’t be copied to the clipboard, it may be incompatible or too big (file size larger than 4MB). The clipboard can only save HTML, text, and bitmap at this time. For example, you can’t save an entire document file.

3. My clipboard item is gone

You can only store 25 items at a time. If you try to save the 26th item, you will lose the first item on your clipboard. You can prevent this from happening to a specific item by pinning it. Pinned items remain and take space over non-pinned items.

4. I can’t sync clipboard items

If you can’t sync clipboard items, you need to make sure you’re using Windows 10 across all of your devices and that you are logged into the same Microsoft account. If needed, update Windows 10 to the latest version. Then, make sure to enable syncing on every device.

A note for Windows 11 Users

Most of the features we mentioned are available in Windows 11. You can access the clipboard settings in the same place as Windows 10 by accessing Settings, then System, and then Clipboard.
It’s not clear yet if cross-functionality exists between a Windows 10 device and a Windows 11 device. For the best results, update all of your devices to the same OS, whether it’s 10 or 11, and make sure you’re using the same Windows account.

Potential security risks

Potential security risks
The clipboard feature is a staple of Windows and one that many people depend on to work faster and more efficiently. However, this feature does have its security risks because you’re essentially sharing every copied item between devices.
Consider if you want to use the Sync feature all the time, and be careful about what you sync. Avoid copying and pasting passwords or other sensitive information.
The clipboard feature makes it all too easy for anyone to sit down at your computer, look at your clipboard history, and see important data you copied. If you do copy anything potentially sensitive, promptly remove it from the clipboard.
About the Author: Linsey Knerl is a contributing writer for HP Tech Takes. Linsey is a Midwest-based author, public speaker, and member of the ASJA. She has a passion for helping consumers and small business owners do more with their resources via the latest tech solutions.

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