How does the Windows clipboard work?

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Reverend Matthew Swisher emailed me over the weekend and asked a question about the Windows Clipboard:

" Hi, Dennis!

I enjoy getting your news letters very much. They have added so much to my computer knowledge. There is always something in everyone of them that I find useful, and because this is so, I have sent the subscription URL to everyone in my address book ... [And now, for my question] ... I suppose this may sound silly to you, but I do not know how to access the 'clipboard' [from within Windows]?

I can't find information about it anywhere in the computer books I have ... Does the clipboard have to be emptied occasionally, or does it empty on shut down? If it doesn't empty automatically, then my clipboard must be full to over flowing, and I'm only guessing on that. The fact is, I really don't know much about the clipboard -- period.

You write some of the most in-depth tutorials I've seen, but ... I haven't seen any information about it. Probably, because it's so simple, everyone already knows about it? "

My Response:

First of all, thank you for your kind words, and for forwarding the newsletter to friends!

With respect to your question: the Windows clipboard is a temporary holding area for text or objects. Once an object is placed in the clipboard, it can be moved (cut and paste) or copied (copy and paste) to another location on the computer. An object can be a shortcut icon, a program file, a folder, and so on.

For example, if you held down the left mouse button and highlighted this text, you could:

  • right click over top of the highlighted text, then
  • select Copy from the dialogue menu, then
  • open a program such as NotePad, and select Edit -> Paste*

This is an example of how the Windows clipboard can copy and paste text to another location. And yes, all information in the clipboard is cleared when the computer restarts.

Side note: You can also right click on an empty space in a Word Processor / Text Editor and select Paste to achieve the same result as choosing Edit -> Paste from the menu.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet