This article originally appeared in TidBITS on 2017-10-30 at 7:01 a.m.
The permanent URL for this article is: http://tidbits.com/article/17598
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Pastebot Supercharges Your macOS Clipboard

by Jeffery Battersby

You probably don’t think about the clipboard too often. Cut, copy, and paste seem pretty simple, right? But what if you could power up your clipboard and make it work harder for you? What if you could make it a repository for reusable text and images, have it collect most everything you cut or copy, and help you organize those clippings so they’re useful and reusable?

Pastebot [1] from Tapbots does just that, and it maintains a persistent clipboard through restarts and across devices. It also makes creating reusable text a snap. Additionally, Pastebot can take your copied text and push it through formatting filters, converting copied plain text into HTML, Markdown, or any other format you dream up. It’s available for $9.99 from the Mac App Store [2], and you can download a two-week free trial directly from the Tapbots Web site.

But before you pull the trigger, it’s possible you already have something in your toolbox that does what Pastebot does. Objective Development’s $29 LaunchBar [3] offers a great historical clipboard and a ton of other features, though without Pastebot’s text formatting capabilities. Stairways Software’s Keyboard Maestro [4] tracks copies over time, lets you reformat clipboard text, and provides hundreds of other macro functions for $36. If you have either of these apps, you should explore their capabilities. If not, Pastebot is a worthy contender for your clipboard bucks.

When you first fire up Pastebot, it adds a menu to your menu bar and walks you through a brief tutorial and initial setup. In order to get around macOS sandboxing, you’ll need to install a script in your user library, which the app makes as simple as the click of a button.

[image link] [5]

As soon as it’s running, Pastebot begins collecting everything you cut or copy, including images and stylized text. By default, Pastebot stores 200 items, although you can jack up that number in its preferences. Once Pastebot’s collection fills up, older items fall off the list as new ones are added. If you’ve copied bits of text or images you want to keep around permanently for later reuse, you can store them in Pastebot’s custom pasteboards.

Pastebot offers a number of other customization options, including synchronizing your clipboard history across devices using iCloud (Pastebot works with macOS’s Universal Clipboard, if your Mac supports that feature), limiting the size of items stored in the clipboard, and customizing the keyboard shortcuts you use to retrieve your clips.

[image link] [6]

[image link] [7]

By default, Pastebot ignores any sensitive data you copy from apps such as 1Password or Keychain Access. According to Pastebot’s documentation [8], this is true for any application that marks its data as “transient.” If you want Pastebot to ignore other apps, or you’re uncertain if Pastebot might be copying sensitive data, you can create a blacklist by adding an app to Pastebot’s Blacklist preference. Any apps you add to the blacklist won’t add your copied or cut data to Pastebot.

By default, you either press Command-Shift-V or click the Pastebot menu bar icon to access Pastebot’s Clipboard window, which is the tool you’ll use most commonly. You can, of course, click any item in the list to paste it, but you can instead paste the first ten items by typing the associated number (typing 0 pastes the tenth item).

[image link] [9]

The Clipboard window also offers a few additional options for working with your copied information. Hover the pointer over an item in the list, and you’ll see a funnel icon and a share button. Click the funnel to access Pastebot’s filters, which perform a predefined task on the contents of your clipboard. So, for example, if you copy a list of items, you can use a filter to turn those items into an HTML list. Pastebot ships with several filters and you can easily create more of your own, which you can share with other Pastebot users.

[image link] [10]

Pastebot also offers a feature called Sequential Paste, which lets you collect existing clippings in a specific order and paste them one after another by typing Control-Shift-V. You add items to the Sequential Paste queue by opening the Clipboard window, selecting an existing clipping, and pressing the right arrow key. It’s unclear to me how useful this might be as most of the sequential information I might ever enter would be on a Web page form, which Safari’s autofill usually handles pretty nimbly, but Sequential Paste works well and could be useful in your workflows.

[image link] [11]

Overall, Pastebot is an excellent clipboard enhancement tool, but you should check your existing utilities to see if one of them already offers features similar to Pastebot’s. If not, Pastebot offers useful clipboard management and text formatting features without adding a ton of other features you may never use. It requires OS X 10.11 El Capitan or later and works fine with 10.13 High Sierra.

[1]: https://www.tapbots.com/pastebot/
[2]: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pastebot/id1179623856?mt=12&at=10l5PW
[3]: https://obdev.at/products/launchbar/
[4]: http://www.keyboardmaestro.com
[5]: http://tidbits.com/resources/2017-10/Pastebot-tutorial.png
[6]: http://tidbits.com/resources/2017-10/Pastebot-text-shortcuts.png
[7]: http://tidbits.com/resources/2017-10/Pastebot-general-settings.png
[8]: https://tapbots.com/pastebot/help/08_preferences/#toc-7-4
[9]: http://tidbits.com/resources/2017-10/Pastebot-clipboard.png
[10]: http://tidbits.com/resources/2017-10/Pastebot-filters.png
[11]: http://tidbits.com/resources/2017-10/Pastebot-sequential-paste.jpg