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What is the Windows Clipboard?

Wednesday, November 17th, 2004 by | Filed Under: Computer Terms

What is the Windows Clipboard?

The Windows clipboard is used to temporarily store stuff. This “stuff” can come in the form of just about anything. Images, files, documents, etc.—they can all be placed on the clipboard. Once something has been copied to the clipboard it can be pasted into another location.

The clipboard isn’t a program you can actually access and play with. It’s a built-in windows component that works transparently. When you copy or cut, the info is put onto this clipboard. When you paste, the information that’s on the clipboard is put into whatever it is you’re working on.

For instance, if I have some information on a web page that I want to put into a word processing document, this is what would happen:

1. I highlight and copy (CTRL-C) the text from the web page. When I do this, the text is placed on the clipboard.

2. Now, I open my word processor (MS Word 2000 and up must be open before you copy). Right now, the info is still sitting on the clipboard and can be pasted into my word processor or any other program that can handle text.

3. OK, now I right-click a blank area of my word processing document and choose Paste from the resulting menu (or just use CTRL-V) . This will take the info that’s currently sitting on the clipboard (i.e. the web page text in this case) and attempt to put it into my word processing document.

I say “attempt to put the info on the clipboard into the word processor” because sometimes the info that’s on your clipboard is not compatible with the program you’re using. For example, if you try to paste a picture into notepad, that just isn’t going to work.

For example, lets say you were working on a report in MS Word and you would like to quote some information you uncovered on the web. Rather than printing out the web page and re-typing the block of text you would like to quote, you can highlight the text on the webpage and copy it to the clipboard (highlight by holding down your left mouse button and dragging it over the section of text you would like to have. Copy it by right-clicking that section of text and selecting Copy from the menu that pops up).

Now, head back to MS Word and position the cursor where you would like to insert the text. Hit CRTL-V (or click the Edit menu, Paste ), and presto, the web page text you copied has now been pasted into your Word doc.

Oh, for more on Copy & Paste head to:


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