What is the clipboard in Windows 10 and how to use it: a complete guide

What is the clipboard in Windows 10 and how to use it: a complete guide

You must have used the copy and paste function at least once, whether you have a smartphone, tablet or computer. What would life be without copy and paste? Scary. We use it almost daily and yet we take it for granted like most things regularly used. Most people don’t even know the real term of copy and paste data – add to the clipboard. The clipboard is also present in Windows 10. What is the Clipboard in Windows? How to use it? Find the answers to these questions in this article.

The simple fact of keyboard shortcuts Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V has made our work easier so many times. The clipboard is copy and paste on steroids. Over time, the Windows 10 clipboard has received new features.

Let’s see what a clipboard is in Windows 10 and how to turn it on or off.

What is a clipboard in Windows

Imagine this: you cut a text in Word, then paste it into Google Docs after 5 minutes. Where did the text go during these 5 minutes? It was neither in Word nor in Google Docs. What happened to him? You can consider it hidden under the invisibility cloak. Well, it was stored on the clipboard. Yes, it stores text like the physical clipboard.

Think of the clipboard as temporary, tiny, hidden storage for saving your last copied data. The data can be an image, text, a file or a folder. So when you copy data, it stays in the clipboard so you can paste it where you want. You can paste the same data more than once. Unless it is overwritten with other data when you copy something else. Yes, it comes with a finite limit.

The clipboard has always been part of a Windows PC. But its characteristics were limited. Previously, when you copied something, you could only paste or use the recently copied item. But with the October 2018 Windows update, Microsoft added new features to the clipboard, including saving multiple entries to the clipboard.

What’s new in the clipboard in Windows 10

As mentioned above, when you copy an item to the clipboard, the existing entry is deleted (from the old clipboard). With the new update, you can see your clipboard history and paste older items from the history.

In other words, Windows keeps a small but temporary log of your copied data. For example, if you copy paragraphs from different websites, you can view them on your clipboard in Windows 10. You can then paste the desired paragraph to the clipboard instead of just the recently copied one. The data remains in your clipboard history until you restart your computer.

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Now you can pin your most frequently used items to the clipboard. These items will not be deleted even if you restart your PC. Clipboard history is now cloud-based, so you can sync it to your Windows 10 devices if it’s enabled. This means that if you copy something to a PC, the same will be available on your second device.

Capabilities and limitations of the new clipboard

The new clipboard can keep a maximum of 25 entries outside of the pinned items. Any additions after that will automatically delete previous data, unless it’s a pinned item or if you restart your computer.

The clipboard can be used with text, HTML and Bitmap images (JPEG, PNG, GIF, etc.). You can access paragraphs, URLs and even screenshots from the clipboard history.

The maximum size of all copied data, especially an image, is 4 MB per item. If an item is larger than 4 MB, it will not be accessible via the clipboard history.

How to view clipboard history in Windows 10

You may be wondering: where can I find this new clipboard in Windows 10 or should I download a new app? Some may have even tried to use the existing Ctrl + V keyboard shortcut and failed to display the copy and paste history.

To get started, you don’t need to download any apps. Just use the Windows + V keyboard shortcut and the clipboard panel will open. You can still use the keyboard shortcuts Ctrl + X, Ctrl + C, and Ctrl + V to cut, copy, and paste recent data, respectively. But to display the clipboard history, you will have to rely on the Windows + V keyboard shortcut. The clipboard window will open where your cursor is located at the moment.

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Point: If you tend to forget about the clipboard shortcut, remember that instead of the Ctrl key, you have to press the Windows key.

How to enable or disable clipboard history

When you press the Windows key + keyboard shortcut V for the first time, you will be asked if you want to activate the clipboard history. Click on Activate.

If you don’t get this option, follow the steps given to enable or disable clipboard history in Windows 10.

Step 1: Open Settings on your computer and go to System.

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2nd step: Click on Clipboard in the left panel. Activate the toggle under Clipboard History in the right panel. If you want to turn it off, turn off the toggle.

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How to use the Clipboard in Windows 10

Now that you know what a clipboard with its features is and how to access it in Windows 10, let’s see how to use it.

First, copy or cut the data as you usually do with keyboard shortcuts or click on the cut or copy buttons. Then open the clipboard history panel using the Windows key + shortcut V. When the clipboard panel is open, here is how to perform various tasks.

1. Copy from clipboard

To transfer something from your clipboard history to an application, click the entry on the clipboard. If a supported application is open, the data will be automatically pasted there. If no application is open, the item will be available as the most recent item on the clipboard. You can press the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + V to paste it where you want.

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Note: Currently, you cannot select and paste multiple items. You will need to paste them individually.

2. Pinned item

When you pin an item, it will remain in your clipboard history until you delete it manually. Restarting your PC or clearing the clipboard history will not remove the pinned items.

To pin an item to the clipboard, click the three-dot icon next to the entry. Select Pin from it. To cancel pinning, repeat the steps and click on cancel pinning.

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3. Delete an individual item from the clipboard history

You do not necessarily need to restart your computer to remove items from it. You can manually delete any item. To do this, click on the three-dot icon on the element and press the Delete button.

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4. Clear history from clipboard

To remove all items from your clipboard except the pinned items, click the three-dot icon next to one of the entries. Then click the Clear All option.

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Otherwise, go to Settings> System> Clipboard. Scroll down and click the Clear button under Clear clipboard data.

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How to synchronize the clipboard on multiple devices

Sharing your clipboard items is one of the new clipboard features in Windows 10. However, the functionality is limited between Windows 10 computers only.

Synchronize clipboard between Windows 10 PCs

You must use the same Microsoft account on your Windows 10 devices to sync the clipboard.

To activate this function, go to Settings> System> Clipboard. Activate the toggle present under Sync on all devices.

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Synchronize Windows clipboard with Android

You will need to use third-party applications to synchronize the clipboard between Windows 10 and Android computers. At least that was the only solution while writing this post. However, the good news is that in the future you will be able to sync the clipboard natively using the Microsoft Your Phone app.

Fixed: unable to see clipboard history in Windows 10

If you are unable to access the new clipboard in settings or via the keyboard shortcut, make sure you are on the latest version on Windows 10. The new clipboard works on Windows October 10, 2018 and above .

To check your current version, go to Settings> System> About. You will find the version number listed under Windows Specifications.

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To update your computer, go to Settings> Update & security. Click Check for Updates. Install the update if available.

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Try other clipboard managers

Microsoft has done a good job with its native clipboard manager. But if you are not satisfied with the offers, you can try free third-party clipboard managers for Windows 10 PC such as Ditto, Clipboard Master, 1Clipboard, ClipX, etc. We hope that Microsoft will add new features to the clipboard, such as the ability to search, use filters, etc.


Check out our other explainer that covers Focus Assist in Windows 10. Find out what it is and how it can help you from the following link.

Last updated Jul 8, 2020

The above article may contain affiliate links that help support Guiding Tech. However, this does not affect our editorial integrity. The content remains impartial and authentic.

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