[Windows] Best free clipboard manager — ArsClip vs Ditto vs ClipX vs CLCL vs Clipboard Help+Spell [2nd Edition]

The most important characteristic of a clipboard manager is its ability to save time. Clipboard managers allow users to store a history of previously copied content such as text and images—whereas the built in Windows Clipboard only allows for storage of one item at a time—thus allowing for speedy access of such content. This comes in especially handy when carrying out repetitive data entry tasks such as entering repeat formula as well as storing images in a database for further processing. Other uses include storing common sections of code (for programmers) and storing online form information. Some of us routinely carry out such repetitive tasks given our professions, habits or hobbies and the ability to cut down on the monotony of switching back and forth between desired content is a valuable asset.

With that being said, there are several great clipboard managers out there which offer users the functionality described above; below are the best four clipboard managers available for Windows.

This review is part of our Best Free Windows Software section. Check out more articles on the best free Windows programs from here.

Table of Contents

Best Free Clipboard Manager

Program Name: ArsClipArsClip Screenshot

Developer: JoeJoeSoft

Download Size: 1.75MB

Version Reviewed: 4.7

Requires: Windows XP/Vista/7

Approximate Memory Usage While Idle: 3 MB

Pros

  • Supports rich-text and images
  • Works with files in Windows Explorer
  • High level of customization available
  • Optional ‘Clipboard Bar’ which shows current clip on clipboard and can be moved to any location on screen
  • Ability to easily set permanent clips
  • Non intrusive interface

Cons

  • Limited hotkey options

Discussion

ArsClip is a very effective clipboard manager and will give users access to all of the features necessary to be as efficient as possible at their specific tasks which require the use of a clipoard manager.

Like Ditto, ArsClip can handle any type of clip copied to the clipboard as well as files from within Windows Explorer. The options menu of ArsClip allows users to customize every aspect of the program from the hotkeys that activate pasting to the clipboard, to the sound played when a clip is copied and the enabling/disabling of clipboard monitoring as well as allowing the triggering of the popup menu by right clicking.

Users can choose exactly how many clips they want to be stored in the history. There is a choice of how many clips are stored by being made immediately available on the popup menu and, how many are stored out of sight but still remain in the program cache. This is useful as not all of the clips need to be immediately available for pasting and can be adjusted based on the habits of users. Users can also make certain clips permanently available and store them in different groups. Unlike Ditto these groups are more easily handled and can actually be selected. ArsClip also includes an adequate text editor which allows for users to make any changes they deem necessary to text clips before copying to the required location.

ArsClip is simply a great program and there is only one issue I had with it which may not bother many readers out there. Its text editor is not as comprehensive as the one found in Ditto and did not offer many of the formatting options found there.

Yes Ditto as you will read allows for a single clipboard to be synced across several computers and is another great offering but in terms of the ability to simply manage clips– neglecting any extra bells and whistles– ArsClip proves to be better even if only slightly. This is especially the case due to the groups feature. It is a basic feature but ArsClip got it right and Ditto didn’t quite do this. ArsClip allows users to comprehensively manage their clips and should prove effective for many different types of usage.

Runner Up

Program Name: DittoDitto Screenshot

Developer: Scott Brogden, Kevin Edwards

Download Size: 3.12MB

Version Reviewed: 3.18.46.00

Requires: Windows 2000-Windows 7

Approximate Memory Usage While Idle: 2.5 MB

Discussion

Ditto is a comprehensive clipboard manager with all of the tools necessary for handling your clipboard manager needs.

Ditto offers users a comprehensive solution for managing the Windows clipboard. It offers users several options for choosing exactly how they want their copied clips to be managed.

Ditto handles any type of clip you throw at it and is compatible with files from within Windows Explorer. Ditto offers a variety of options for choosing keyboard shortcuts for pasting clips into the required body of text. There is a shortcut that can be assigned with a desired combination, which most users will probably use, that brings up a popup menu and allows users to manually select which clip they want to paste. Alternatively, Ditto allows for the assignment of shortcuts which allow for the last ten copied clips to be pasted quickly. Perhaps one of the most interesting and potentially useful features is the ability to sync a single clipboard across several computers. An example where I am sure this would come in handy is in the coding of programs. A team working on an application could easily share important code snippets using this function. Ditto allows users to assign clips to groups as well as to edit them. The text editor included is quite advanced and has several features that you would expect to find in a standalone word processor. Users can change font type, font size, color of text and carry out various levels of formatting on text clips such as aligning text to various positions on the screen, adding bullets, indentation as well as the well known bold, italic and underlining options.

Another great feature of Ditto is its ability to let the user choose they type of media Ditto can handle. For example, you can choose to disable or enable types of clips such as text or images.

My only real issue with Ditto, as pointed out by dotTechi njwood60, is that Ditto allows for the display of group entries in the main list but you are unable to select the group.

Upon review of all the features and functionality offered by Ditto it is an effective clipboard manager offering users from basic to advanced function and should prove quite useful for a large selection of users.

Honorable Mention 1

Program Name: ClipXClipx screenshot

Developer: Francis Gastellu

Download Size: 108KB

Version Reviewed: 1.0.3.8

Requires: Windows

Approximate Memory Usage While Idle: 800 KB

Discussion

ClipX is a powerful program with features practically identical to CLCL and Ditto but its GUI is noticeably better than CLCL and it is immediately clear how to utilize all of its features.

ClipX handles the copying of text and images from web pages and text documents as well as files( including images ) from Windows Explorer much like ArsClip and Ditto. Users have multiple options for activating Clipx. For example, users can utilize it by simply pressing the paste hotkey at the required location and a dialog box appears displaying the clipboard history thus allowing users to select whether they want to copy their text, images or files to a desired location. Users can also view and select clips from the clipboard history by single left-clicking on the application’s icon in the system tray. Users can edit their text clips by right-clicking on the ClipX icon and selecting manage. This allows for desired modifications to be made to text before copying. ClipX’s configuration menu allows users to specify the maximum amount of clips which can be saved, to set hotkeys, to customize the popup dialog box and to manage plugins. ClipX supports several plugins which can be downloaded from ClipX’s homepage and will enhance functionality as desired.

There are only 2 issues which I have with ClipX and 1 more major one. Firstly the lack of a timestamp on clips means that users cannot tell exactly when they were created which may or may not affect their experience but this feature could be useful for record keeping purposes. In addition ClipX is not regularly updated which means that there may be little hope for any existing bugs to be fixed; the last time a stable update was released was on November 30th, 2005  while the latest beta version was released on July 6th, 2008.

Despite these issues ClipX still has functionality comparable to that of both Ditto and ArsClip.

Honorable Mention 2

Program Name: CLCLCLCL screenshot

Developer: Nakashima Tomoaki

Download Size: 180KB

Version Reviewed: 1.1.2

Requires: Windows All

Approximate Memory Usage While Idle: 3 MB

Discussion

CLCL offers users a high level of functionality and advanced features with an extended clipboard without many embellishments but it does so quite effectively.

There are 2 application files which come with the CLCL archive file. One file contains options for setting up the program and the other is the actual program. The set up file contains options such as the number of items to save to the history and the ability to set the default copy and paste keys. The main window displays the history of items copied, templates as well as the current item saved to the default Windows clipboard. CLCL handles copied text and images easily and also has the powerful feature of being able to manage files within Windows Explorer. CLCL also allows for the installations of plugins which would bring added functionality to an already capable program.

Although CLCL does its job well it does lack some of the finesse in its GUI when compared to other programs. For example when using Clipboard Help and Spell, the well laid out GUI is immediately noticed and everything simply  flows. Also, although CLCL does allow for added functionality through plugins, the lack of documentation makes it difficult to implement this.

In summation, despite its faults, CLCL is a sturdy little clipboard manager that is guaranteed to get the job done as there is no type of copied content which it cannot handle.

Honorable Mention 3

Program Name: Clipboard Help+Spellclipboard help and spell screenshot

Developer: DonationCoder

Download Size: 3.62MB

Version Reviewed: 2.17.01

Requires: Win95, Win98, WinME, WinNT 3.x, WinXP, Windows 2000, Windows 2003, WinVista, WinVista x64, Win7 x32, Win7 x64

Approximate Memory Usage While Idle: 15.4 MB

Discussion

Clipboard Help and Spell possesses a wide variety of features which aim to cover all aspects of clipboard management and will prove an asset to anyone in need of such a program in order to improve their efficiency.

The interface of Clipboard Help and Spell is well laid out which aids in the user being able to access the clips they need as quickly as possible.  Part of this ease of access involves the different actions carried out when either right or left-clicking the system tray icon. A single left click brings up a quick paste menu which allows you to access some of the more recently copied clips, an option to carry out additional  actions on the latest copied clip and the options button among others while a double left click will bring up the main application window. A double right click toggles the application on or off while a single right-click brings up options such as help, an option to visit the program’s forum to discuss the program and a check for updates option. A nifty little feature of Clipboard Help and Spell is its ability to spell check text clips which could save users from stray typos.  There is also a quick search filter integrated into the program which allows users to find their copied clips quickly. Users are also given the option of printing selected clips if they wish to.

Clipboard Help and Spell is undoubtedly a well laid out program with great functionality but on comparing it to ClipXDitto, ArsClip and CLCL it cannot handle files from within Windows Explorer and cannot handle plugins and is therefore slightly lacking.

For the average user of a clipboard manager Clipboard Help and Spell will get the job done easily as many persons may not seek out the Windows explorer functionality present in the other offerings and in the final analysis this excellently laid out program should undoubtedly save users lots of time.

Other Alternatives

This review is part of our Best Free Windows Software section. Check out more articles on the best free Windows programs from here.

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48 comments

  1. Darcy

    [@Rob (Down Under)] Sorry it took so long to check back, got sick and forgot about this. For scrolling I usually use the arrow buttons at the top of Firefox, but I tried using the arrow keys when that happened. The left, right and down arrows because of the pop up you mentioned, no effect.

    I un-installed ARSclip and that part is working fine now. I used an Add-on called Add Bookmark Here2 that it broke but everything else is working fine now. Pity, that add-on restored a lot of the functions Firefox removed from the add bookmark capability years ago.

  2. Rob (Down Under)

    [@Darcy]
    Regarding Clipboard managers, I had a couple running, and was getting some weird effects, so I disabled them all (prevented them autostarting).
    I have my own (VB6) paster, which I use many times a day to paste email addresses, passwords, etc. It has an auto grabber, but I have not turned that on for the last couple of years.

    How do you do your scrolling in FF ?
    Are you clicking the arrow heads on the left and right sides of the screen ?
    Did you know that you can click the down ‘arrow head’ to see a list, and you can click any of those to make that tab visible ?

    Rob

  3. Darcy

    I have a problem with AESclip that might be related to my add-ons or the version of Firefox I use (14.0.1). While using ARSclip, the ability to scroll between open tabs is gone. The tabs are still there, and can be selected, but if they are off the screen you can’t get to them. Anyone else having this problem or know the solution?

  4. continue

    It’s rather a very practical section of details. I’m happy for you to contributed this convenient information here. Make sure you keep us up to date such as this. Appreciation for discussing.

  5. al hall

    At the ARSClip website I found this comment from the author:

    “This program requires no installation, but an optional setup program is included. ”

    If I’m not mistaken, this means it is portable .

    Another plus!

  6. Chet B

    Typically dotTech reviews lead to download links for the described software. When the setup file is clicked, it’s common to be warned “Publisher could be verified. File does not have a valid digital signature.” ArsClip is an example. These days this is scary. Does dotTech do any screening or are we proceeding are our own risk?

  7. njwood60

    Further info on my last comment. (@njwood60: )

    1. ArsClip does have an option to turn off the “clipboard chain has been broken” notification (yay!). Only relevant on XP as the clipboard chain thingy is different from Vista onwards

    2. I have downloaded and tried Ditto. While Ditto and Arsclip both allow you to store your permanent clips in “groups” , Arsclip lets you have one of the groups “expanded” in the clips list whereas Ditto doesn’t For me this makes Arsclip more useful.

    @Rob (Down Under): While I agree re keeping things simple, the features that one person wants in a program tend to be completely different from what the next person wants. See my point 2 above

    @AFPhys: A table comparing features would be brilliant I reckon – but I do know how much work would be involved!!

  8. stilofilos

    @Ashraf: @Janet:
    I agree with both sides. Maybe some kind of categorisation of the articles could help reconciling them ? And let’s understand that accidents can happen when looking at multiple things simultaneously, I experience the same… who not ?
    Like many people here I, too, use to be interested in the bigger, more heavy duty things and reviews on them, and come to this site to learn more, appreciating the available knowledge and the people who are so kind to share it. And I actually never bothered about toys of the kind that appear more frequently in recent publications .
    On the other hand I was quite happy reading this one as it triggered my interest in an aspect of computing that I neglected so far, and it did make me look into it.
    So : my thanks to William for collecting the information,
    and to Janet for highlighting the qualities of Ditto, that in the end looks the best to me too and will stay with me for a while to see what added value it can give me.

  9. Mr.Dave

    @Ashraf: I agree. Reviews are very helpful for making us aware of good programs and whether they would help us, or which one would help us most. Comments only make it all better by adding additional real-world experience, more alternatives, and other uses for the programs. I’d love to see a “super review” on the program types that have the most feedback, but I’m quite happy with what we’re getting. Just one opinion!

  10. Ashraf
    Mr. Boss

    @AFPhys: I’ll talk to William about it. Thanks for the feedback!
    @Janet: I’ll be the first to admit our reviews aren’t as extensive as they used to be, but I’d hardly say they are inaccurate and not useful. Sure we make mistakes once in a while (such as with Ditto) but by and large our reviews are accurate and very helpful.

  11. William
    Author/Staff

    @Janet: @njwood60: Thanks for the constructive criticism guys, I will take it to heart and use it to improve as quality is very important to me! I’m not making any excuses for the mistake with Ditto… it shouldn’t have happened.

    P.S. I do acknowledge that ArsClip is a great program but I can only write about 4 of the great ones.

  12. Janet

    @Ashraf:

    WOW! $10,000/mo.?!?!?!?! You must live in America!!! :-)

    I will go out on a limb here and say that I would actually MUCH prefer (MANY) FEWER reviews rather than daily (unreliable) reviews or reviews on not-great-relative-to-what-most-dottechers-use programs…..A review which says a program does not have capabilities which it clearly does totally invalidates the review…:-)…! I would even be (very) happy with only one review every TWO weeks if it was of the type that you used to do. The present onslaught of not-very-helpful reviews IS making for a very different dottech from what us old-timers were used to…I stopped reading most of them. And the ones I DO read, I now read more for the comments…..

    I hope my post will be viewed as a constructive suggestion that takes everyone’s needs (especially Ashraf’s) into account. :-)

  13. Rob (Down Under)

    @AFPhys:
    Let me start things rolling by describing the KISS Clipboard program.
    It may not exist yet (which would force me to write one) -
    . . .
    - – - – KISS Clipboard program
    Plain text only
    Sits in systray
    Single left click shows it (and can be used to hide it)
    (Also Alt Ctrl V will show it)
    When the systray is middle button (or possibly right button) clicked it captures the clipboard’s contents
    If Alt Ctrl C is pressed then it captures highlighted text and places into Clipboard
    When the form is showing, any clip that is (left) clicked is pasted into the current application (and the form hides itself back into Systray)
    Some categorizing will be possible
    Rob
    PS I even have a domain name that has been registered for years, and never used http://www.ClipBuddy.com
    Or if anyone knows someone who wishes to buy the domain name, spread the word.

  14. AFPhys

    @Ashraf:
    I consider this specific topic (cut/paste/history) to be one of the very few “most important” areas of computer technology, and would favor a repeat of this type of review, even done by the same author, but even more extensive. I would suggest that the comments made here be taken into account, including some of the other important programs mentioned above and such factors as size (and other resource) use of the clip manager, ease of “archiving” clips/history, and such things. Perhaps linking a table or spreadsheet comparing features, etc., would be appropriate, also.

  15. Mr.Dave

    I also recommend ArsClip, been using it for a while now. Fast, small, very easy to use. I like that you paste formatted or unformatted text, can scroll through recent clips using the keyboard — I *never* need to use a mouse on ArsClip, that would slow me down! Good review though, it got me interested in trying some of the others.

  16. Ashraf
    Mr. Boss

    @njwood60: Either clone me so there are multiple Ashrafs available to take care of real life + dotTech or pay me $10,000 a month to make this my day job. Otherwise, I’m doing the best I can with the limited resources I have. Sorry :-(
    That said, I agree silly mistakes like with Ditto should be avoided. I’ll be talking to William about that.

  17. njwood60

    @Janet: Thanks for taking the time to correct some of the inaccuracies re Ditto – I will now definitely have a look at it.

    I use ArsClip which I feel should have been included here as it is quite good and regularly updated (unlike CLipX which is not being maintained)

    On my Setup (win XP) Arsclip regularly tells me that “the clipboard chain has been broken” which is getting irritating (no option to turn it off) so I’m looking for a new clipboard mananger.

    In this review it would have been nice if the memory usage for each program could have been listed. For anyone who is interested Arsclip is using about 9meg memory on my PC

    @Ahsraf At the risk of sounding ungrateful, I feel that in general the reviews on dottech have dropped considerably in quality and are a lot less useful than they used to be (and yes I have donated to dottech)

  18. Rob (Down Under)

    I downloaded Clipboard Help and Spell.
    It has automatically detected my previous use of the DonationCoder Key from some other programs I have installed.
    PS it has a portable version. When you unzip it, avoid the Installer EXE. run the other EXE for it’s portable program.

  19. jayesstee

    Ditto does have a time stamp! Just hover the mouse cursor over an entry, and it will show the date added and the date last used.
    It’s an excellent program. I use it on its own, and with ABBYY Screenshot reader – does every thing I need.

  20. Rob (Down Under)

    @tosime:
    If Clipboard Help & Spell is like most (all ?) of the DonationCoder programs, then all you have to do is make a one time donation to DonationCoder (NOT to Help & Spell).
    That donation covers all future downloads of all programs from DonationCoder.
    You receive a universal key that works for all the other programs, until you expire.
    I donated years ago, and have been too lethargic to make full use of it.

  21. Janet

    Ditto DOES have a regular search function! At the bottom of the history list is a search field. Type in what you are searching for and it gives you the relevant entries. [The Help file calls it a "Filter Edit Box".]

    Ditto DOES allow for the editing of text clips!
    R-click>Edit clip.

    Hard to believe a reviewer could miss these basic functions……:-)….

    I recommend taking a look at the MANY Options Ditto offers…..

  22. AFPhys

    Thanks for this review. I have disabled my clipboard manager due to it being nagware, and not being really good. I have missed it and have been interested in replacing it, but had not taken the time to research the alternatives. Thanks for doing this research for me/us.

  23. tosime

    Thanks for another excellent review.
    I use Clipboard Help & Spell. It is very good.

    However, if you are yet to make a donation, it has a nag screen that comes up every 6 months reminding you to visit its website and urging you to make a donation.

    This feature has made me consider Clipx. I will give it a try but probably make a donation to Clipboard Help & Spell.

    One nice feature of Clipboard Help & Spell is its sound feedback alerting you if you have already copied the current item to memory. I have found this surprisingly useful. You get one sound if it a fresh clip and a different sound if it is already on the clip board.

    Looks like I have convinced myself to stay with Clipboard Help & Spell!

  24. Tom

    Ditto users (and others) might be interested in the wonderful Ethervane Echo (from the developer of Keynote).
    I use Clipboard Help+Spell myself, it has lots of features I dont use, so I wouldnt call it basic :) I do use formatting a lot (change case of clip – sentence, title, etc.). It has the ability to use scripts to modify text – search for “Using Custom Script/Tool Formatting Presets” on http://www.donationcoder.com
    There’s also a good CLCL tutorial thread there (donationcoder) and it’s also the home of Clipboard Help+Spell, and an Ethervane Echo discussion thread.

  25. Ali

    Thanks for the review.
    A few points:
    1. Latest ClipX stable version is mentioned in its website as: 1.0.3.8 not 10.3.8
    2. I’ve been using Ditto for more than a year and I’m completely happy with it. Although I haven’t tried ClipX yet (which I might give it a try), Ditto actually does have a very nice and handy search-as-you-type function. When the clipboard history menu is shown via your shortcut, just begin to type instead of choosing an item. Ditto will filter the items closest to your search text, and you can choose the desired one using the arrow keys and the Enter key. Very handy IMO. I don’t know if you should change an option for this to work if you don’t see this, but mine worked out of the box.