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Upgrading Your Mac’s Clipboard History

Upgrading Your Mac’s Clipboard History

On your Mac, you can access one of the simplest yet most extraordinary inventions in the history of personal computers: your clipboard. Just imagine how much time this simple tool saves you every day and think about how painful it would be to manually duplicate all your work without this functionality.

This is especially important if you’re a developer, as there are plenty of scenarios where you can use your clipboard:

  • Copy-paste code snippets from Stack Overflow
  • Move your code between files
  • Copy and share code snippets with your colleagues

Despite being an effortless tool to use, your Mac clipboard also comes with a lot of limitations, which may be slowing down your productivity as a developer. This article will guide you through these limitations and show you how Pieces can revolutionize your clipboard, a tool you didn’t know could get any better.

Why Is Your Clipboard Limited?

On your Mac, you can access basic clipboard functionality using ⌘ + C to copy, then ⌘ + V to paste.

This may be enough for a variety of situations, but it can also be pretty limiting for your productivity as a developer. The limitations of the functionality become very evident when, for example, you need to paste something you copied an hour ago, but you’ve already overwritten that piece of text by copying something else, and now there’s no way for you to retrieve it. So, at this point, you end up having to go back and find what you initially saved and copy it all over again.

You can access the history of text you saved on your Mac clipboard; however, the usefulness of this history is limited as the list always only contains only the most recent text you copied. To verify this, you can easily access your clipboard history through the Edit menu of your Mac within the Finder, and then by clicking Show Clipboard.

Accessing your Mac’s clipboard history
Accessing your Mac’s clipboard history

What you’ll see is a simple text file showing only the last thing you copied.

Clipboard history popup on a Mac
An example of my clipboard history

Once you realize how limiting your Mac’s clipboard can be to you as a developer, you may feel the need for a better solution, one that will allow you to manage everything you’ve copied in an organized way and not worry about overwriting your saves.

There’s an answer to these performance issues— use a clipboard manager tool.

What Is a Clipboard Manager Tool?

As a software developer, you’re always copy-pasting snippets of code from various sources. Think about how many snippets of code you’ve copied from Stack Overflow or CodePen, how many blocks of code you move from one place to another every single day, or how many lines of code you share with your peers to solve your project challenges.

A clipboard manager is simply a tool to power up all your copy-pasting in a safe, efficient way.

Imagine you copied an important code snippet from Stack Overflow and overwrote it accidentally, or suppose you want to save a block of code and use it again in an hour without having to worry about where you can store it.

Your clipboard manager has you covered. These tools allow you to store, organize, and view your recently copied items, and then use them whenever you need them.

The Pieces Clipboard Manager

In particular, as a developer, you’ll want to use a clipboard manager that is specifically designed to support your work with code, and that’s where the Pieces app shines. Pieces is the fastest clipboard manager for developers, and it comes with a full set of features, including:

  • The ability to safely store all your best code snippets with just one click, which will dramatically speed up your coding workflow.
  • The option to organize and search through your snippets in one place, so you’ll never have to review your Notes wondering which snippets you saved and why.
  • The capacity to enrich your snippets with additional information. You’ll see which website your snippet came from, which language it uses and which tags it has, so it’ll be easier for you to find it later and reuse it whenever you need.

Now that you see how much better your clipboard can be, the next sections demonstrate how to easily integrate Pieces into your workflow to immediately skyrocket your productivity.

How to Use Pieces

One of the most important operations you can perform as a developer with your code snippets is saving them for later use. Let’s see how you can perform this operation with Pieces.

1. As a first step, download the Pieces app. Once downloaded, the app will open, showing you a menu where you can see all of your saved snippets.

An example of the Pieces app
Pieces’ main dashboard

2. To save a snippet inside Pieces, you can either paste it (⌘ + V) directly into the app, or you can download one of the Pieces IDE integrations. With these add-ons, you’ll be able to send your snippets to Pieces directly from your favorite code editor.

For example, when using Pieces with VS Code, once you decide to save a snippet, you just need to highlight it and then press ⇧+⌘ + V on your Mac to see your snippet appear directly in Pieces.

A highlighted code snippet in VS Code that is being sent to Pieces
Saving a snippet to Pieces

4. After this step, this is what all the snippets you saved will look like.

A code snippet in Pieces
Visualizing your saved snippets in Pieces

5. As you can see, with just one click, you were able to safely store your snippet, which you can now refer to in the future whenever you want, without fear of losing it. Additionally, Pieces stores useful information for each of your snippets, like where the snippet came from, its tags, its indentation, and its language.

This way, it will be much easier for you to search through all your important notes and make sense of your daily chaos.

An HTML snippet in Pieces
An example of different snippets saved using Pieces

If you want to search for a specific bit of code, simply type your desired search in the dedicated search bar at the top of the app.

Searching for a snippet in Pieces
You can quickly search through all your snippets to find the one you need.

Conclusion

It’s always hard to imagine how a simple tool like your Mac clipboard can become even better. As you’ve learned in this article, despite its simple elegance, your clipboard is severely limited since it only allows you to store the latest snippet of text, code, or image that you copied.

At the same time, copy-pasting is one of the most common operations for you as a developer, so what you need is a tool that provides better support for this activity. Now that you’ve discovered Pieces, you’ll be able to efficiently store, manage, and use all your most important code snippets, without fear of losing them.

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