Windows has a hidden clipboard manager—here’s how to find it

Build an absolute hoard of text snippets and paste them at will.
A person typing on a Windows keyboard while holding a clipboard.
Let Windows hold your clipboard instead. Yan Krukov / Pexels

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Copying and pasting are such an essential part of our daily computing that most of us just do it automatically. But sometimes we get it wrong—we copy something, forget to paste it, and accidentally copy over it. It feels like you’ve lost something forever. 

That’s why I can’t survive without a clipboard manager. These tools allow you to scroll back through everything you’ve copied, so you won’t lose an important phone number or address just because someone sent you a meme you absolutely had to copy to the office Slack channel.

There are all sorts of clipboard managers you can download, but Windows users don’t need to, as the two latest editions of the operating system have one built in. The catch: it’s not that easy to find.

How to turn on the Windows clipboard history

The Windows Clipboard History tool in action.
Turn this tool on and you’ll be able to see lots of recently copied items. Justin Pot

First, open the Settings app on your computer. Under System, you’ll find a section called Clipboard. Toggle the switch on to turn on the clipboard history.

When this function is on, a pop-up window will emerge every time you hit Win+V—there, you’ll be able to view your 25 most recently clipped items.

You can scroll through recent clippings using your mouse or the up and down arrow keys. Select something by clicking it (or by hitting enter if you’re navigating with the keyboard) to immediately paste that snippet in whatever application you currently have open.

Note that you can also pin things by clicking on the pin icon in the bottom right corner of every item. This is useful if you find yourself repeating the same message constantly, for example.

A copied block of text in the built-in Windows clipboard manager, with an arrow pointing out the pin icon you can use to bookmark frequently used items.
Pin, bookmark—same thing. Justin Pot

Syncing with other computers

We’ve talked about how some apps allow you to copy and paste across devices, but again, Windows users have everything they need built right into the operating system. Clipboard syncing allows you to copy text on one computer and paste it on another, which is useful if you tend to switch between devices constantly, or you need to easily transfer information from your phone to your laptop.

To get started, head back to the Clipboard section in Settings and turn on Sync across your devices. Windows will ask you to sign into your Microsoft account, after which everything you copy will show up on all the devices you’ve logged into with the same Microsoft account. Note that you’ll have to enable the setting on each device.

[Related: Make your life easier by syncing up all your Windows 11 devices]

I tested this between two computers: one running Windows 10 and another running Windows 11. It worked perfectly, though I did need to restart one of the computers after turning on syncing before clippings started showing up. 

Note that if you’re running Windows 10 on your computer, you won’t be able to use clipboard syncing unless you’ve installed the October 2018 update, or any later one. 

Clipboard syncing with Android phones

The settings you use to sync your Windows computer clipboard with your Android phone.
Just toggle that on and get pasting. Justin Pot

If you’re constantly switching between your computer and your phone, having one clipboard that works simultaneously on both can be a game-changer. Windows 10 and 11 can sync their clipboard with an Android device running 5.0 or newer, but only if you’re willing to replace your phone’s default keyboard with Microsoft’s Swiftkey. And that’s OK because Swiftkey is one of the best keyboard apps you can find.

To work with a unified clipboard across devices, download and install Swiftkey and set it to be your default keyboard. Next, head to the Swiftkey settings and make sure Sync clipboard history is turned on.

The app will ask you to sign into your Microsoft account, after which you’ll be able to paste on your computer all items copied on your phone, and vice versa. 

Even though Swiftkey is available for iOS and iPadOS, you won’t find this clipboard management feature on Apple devices, but that might change in the future.