Having a clipboard manager on your Windows PC is very handy because it makes it easy and convenient to retrieve previously copied content. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to do the same on your phone? Sure, for most people clipboard management may not be as useful on an Android phone as it is on a PC; but there are users out that there would appreciate having a clipboard manager. So we did our due-diligence, looked at free clipboard managers, and picked the best one.
Before we proceed, however, I would like to provide some commentary. Clipboard managers are “always on”. Any app that is “always on” will have some sort of effect on battery life. While I will discuss this in more detail in my discussion sections below, as it turns out clipboard managers don’t have too big of an impact on your battery (although battery usage will vary depending on how frequently you copy + paste). If you need the functionality of a clipboard manager, the excess battery usage is a small price to pay. However, if you don’t need the functionality of a clipboard manager and you just want to download one for kicks and giggles, the excess battery usage is a waste. In other words, I am saying that if you need a clipboard manager, by all means get it; but if you don’t need one, don’t bother.
Table of Contents
App Name: Clipper
Download Size: 172 KB
Version Reviewed: v1.2.5
Requires: Android 1.6 and up
- Stores up to twenty clipboard entries.
- Has the (optional) ability to automatically restore last clipboard entry after a reboot.
- Has the (optional) ability to display a confirmation message whenever a clipboard entry is saved.
- Has the (optional) ability to not save duplicate entries.
- Allows users to toggle clipboard monitoring on/off.
- If clipboard monitoring is turned on, Clipper automatically starts at phone boot.
- For all stored clipboard entries users can: Come back to clipboard, edit, send (to SMS, e-mail, or any other app that accepts text input), delete, and pin.
- Allows users to store up to five “snippets”.
- Clipboard entries and snippets can be exported to and imported from a CSV file.
- No ads.
- Cannot store more than twenty clipboard entries at a time. (Older entries get automatically deleted once the 20 entry limit is reached.)
- Can only copy one entry back to Android’s clipboard at a time; cannot copy multiple entries at a time.
- Has no option no to start at phone boot; always starts automatically at phone boot, even when clipboard monitoring is turned off.
- Does not support Android 3.0 and higher devices, yet.
Clipper is a simple clipboard manager with a few niceties that help it stand out above the crowd.
First and foremost, Clipper accurately tracks and records clipboard entries, just like a clipboard manager is supposed to do. In the free version of Clipper, Clipper stores up to 20 clipboard entries at a time; when this 20 limit is reached the older entries are automatically deleted as newer entries are added. (In Clipper Plus, ~$1.40, users can store as many clipboard entries as they like and automatic deletion can be turned off.)
With all stored clipboard entries, users can copy them back to Android’s clipboard (so they can be pasted wherever you want), manually edit the entries, share the entries via SMS, e-mail, or any other app that supports text input, manually delete entries, and pin entries. Copying an entry back to Android’s clipboard requires a single short tap on the entry you want to send to Android’s clipboard; the rest of the features are accessible via a long tap. “Pinning” an entry makes it so the entry is not automatically deleted once the 20 entries limit is reached. In other words, once Clipboard starts to “prune” entries (“pruning” is automatically deleting entries once the 20 entry limit is reached), it will not delete pinned entries.
Secondly, Clipper has a “snippets” feature. This “snippet” feature allows users to manually enter commonly used text and copy snippets to Android’s clipboard when users want to paste the snippets anywhere. In the free version of Clipper, users can store up to five snippets at a time. Just like with clipboard entries, snippets can be manually edited, shared, and deleted. Copying to Android’s clipboard is done with a single short tap while everything else is done with a long tap.
Lastly, there are some customization options available to users such as make Clipper:
- Restore the last clipboard entry after a phone reboot (this is turned on by default, but can be turned off);
- Not save duplicate entries (this is turned off by default, but can be turned on);
- Toggle clipboard monitoring on/off (take note regardless of if monitoring is turned on or off, Clipper will automatically start at phone boot);
- Make Clipper display a confirmation message whenever a clipboard entry has been successfully saved and stored (this is turned off by default, but can be turned on);
- And more.
Now as I mentioned at the beginning of this article, clipboard managers are “always on”. “Always on” apps always reduce battery life because they regularly use CPU; the question is by how much. How much battery life Clipper uses will depend on how frequently you copy and paste content. To see how battery efficient, or lack thereof, Clipper is I did a small test. I ran Clipper for 8-9 hours, copying 12 items. Extrapolating from that data, in 24 hours Clipper would use 1-1.5 minutes total of CPU for saving 36 clipboard entries. 1-1.5 minutes of CPU usage is very minimal in a 24 hour time period and has very little effect on battery life. However, do take note that in my test I did not copy Clipper entries back to Android’s clipboard; Clipper was only monitoring and saving my clipboard content. The process of actually using Clipper to copy content back to Android’s clipboard will increase CPU usage. My guesstimate is CPU usage would be 1.5-2 minutes if I had used Clipper to paste back a moderate amount of saved entries. 1.5-2 minutes is still not bad.
Of course as I said the more you copy and paste stuff the more CPU Clipper will use. However, based on my tests, I have to say Clipper is fairly battery efficient and it won’t be (shouldn’t be) killing your battery. Still, keep in mind if you don’t need the clipboard management functionality, even very little battery usage is battery wastage. So while Clipper may have a negligible affect on battery life, only use it if you need it.
Finally, although this isn’t necessarily a performance related issue, I would like to mention that at times Clipper displays messages in the notification bar (such as when you boot your phone, after you run Clipper for the first time, or when you exit Clipper’s settings). Personally I find some of the messages to be creepy (“Clipper says hi”, “Clipper has woken up”) while others are entertaining (“Clipper comes in peace”, “Clipper welcomes our new Android warlords”). If you don’t want these messages to appear, you can turn them off by going to “Customize notifications” in Clipper’s preferences and enabling “Static startup ticker”.
Overall, Clipper tops my list of best free clipboard manager app for four reasons: Accurate management of clipboard entries, the ability to restore last clipboard entry after a reboot, battery efficiency, and having on ads. If you are looking for a clipboard manager, this is the app to get.
App Name: ClipStore
Download Size: 30 KB
Version Reviewed: v0.9
Requires: Android 1.5 and up
Whereas Clipper had some features that went above and beyond clipboard management, ClipStore is offers just clipboard management functionality. Now offering only clipboard management features isn’t a bad thing because we are, after all, looking for a clipboard manager. In fact, I really like ClipStore’s semi-transparent interface that overlays whatever app you currently have open instead of using a non-transparent, full screen interface like Clipper. However, ClipStore’s downfall is that it uses 2-3 times more battery than Clipper. That is just unacceptable. Now, in defense of ClipStore, I tested it at its default settings, which have the “observation interval” set at 15 seconds. This interval can be lowered to 30 seconds or one minute, and thus reduce battery consumption. However, having the interval set at higher values may (or may not – I don’t know since I only tested it at default settings) have a negative impact in performance if you copy content too quickly.
(ClipStore is also ad-free. There is no information on if it works with Android 3.0+ or not.)
App Name: aNdClip Free
Download Size: 380 KB
Version Reviewed: v2.0.1
Requires: Android 1.5 and up
aNdClip Free is another good clipboard manager. It is accurate like Clipper and ClipStore, and battery efficiency is similar to Clipper. (Battery efficiency can be improved if the “Check interval” is lowered from the default 5 seconds.) However, what kills the deal on aNdClip Free are the ads. It isn’t even so much that it has ads. I mean yeah, it has ads while both Clipper and ClipStore are ads free. But the bigger issue is the ads are placed in such an annoying manner (in the middle of the top-half of the screen) that it makes it hard aNdClip Free.
(aNdClip Free does not work on Android 3.0+ devices, yet.)