Pastebot Supercharges Your macOS Clipboard
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 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, 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 offers a great historical clipboard and a ton of other features, though without Pastebot’s text formatting capabilities. Stairways Software’s Keyboard Maestro 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.
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.
By default, Pastebot ignores any sensitive data you copy from apps such as 1Password or Keychain Access. According to Pastebot’s documentation, 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).
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 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.
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.
The Clipy app has many similar features and is completely free (they don't even ask for donations).
iClip anyone? I've used it a long time but not to its fullest. Comparison?
Something that seems to be long forgotten is that the Tapbots developer, Paul T Haddad, originally came out with PTH Pasteboard more than a decade ago, with mostly the same features. It was a wonderful app but fell into increasing incompatibility with the Mac OS. This new app, under a new company of Haddad's is a shiny new variant of the old app, although nobody at Tapbots seems to want to mention the old app or company.
One clipboard app that has been around since 2014 and has many of the same features as Pastebot is Copy'em Paste, which is on the Mac App Store, currently for the same price as Pastebot. I've been using it as a PTH Pasteboard replacement for years now. It has several preprogrammed text transformations built-in (eg making all uppercase/lowercase, capitalizing all words, etc). Clicking a star permanently retains a clipping (and you can set up clippings to be auto-starred if you want). It too lets you blacklist apps (like password apps) to not save clippings.
It also has some nice, unique features. You can edit copied text in a small text editor in Copy'Em Paste. You can automatically remove all formatting (size, color, etc) from text when clipped with a toggle. And you can take Shift-Command-4-style screenshots straight to the clipboard (invoke the app with Shift-Command-V, then hit Control-A), after which you can (a) directly paste images (into Twitter, etc), or (b) drag screenshots into a shelf app like Yoink and then drop into an app or a folder (where the snapshot turns into whatever image format macOS is configured to make screenshots into). A pop-up also lets you narrow down the view of clippings by app they were taken in, which I find very useful when I'm pasting multiple selections from just one app.
I was a long-time devotee of PTH Pasteboard and with El Capitan (though it still mostly worked) I finally looked into replacements. The biggest problem was that, unlike PTH Pasteboard, all of them required going to the app to do anything. In other words, I wanted a clipboard manager that worked in the background with keyboard shortcuts. Only Copy'em Paste and Pastebot could be used that way. Both of them are good, and they are different.
It's been a while now since I used the former, so it may have changed, but Pastebot was a lot easier to set up for keystroke shortcuts, and didn't require 2 steps to act (ie, one keystroke to invoke the app, then the shortcut action). Also, the pop-up was a lot more compact and the filtering (transforming) capability much more robust.
Copy'em Paste has more features, particularly regarding non-text, which if you don't use them only get in the way of the more straightforward usability that Pastebot provides.
Since you mention LaunchBar, I will also mention its competitor Alfred.