Posted on April 7, 2013 by Steve Mu

There are quite a few apps now on the Mac App Store that can store your clipboard history, and most had integrated iCloud synchronization so you can share the clipboard data across multiple computers. However, most of these apps didn’t fit my use case. I didn’t need a fancy graphical representation of my clipboard, long term storage of my clipboard data, organizing them into reusable groups, or turning it into a hybrid clipboard/bookmarking tool. All I want was:

  • Simple way to see the past 10~20 items that I’ve copied and re-paste them.
  • Quick and easy to use interface.
  • Easily accessible universal shortcut.

The last item on that list of requirement turned out to be harder than it seemed. With Mac App Store’s new sandbox requirements, turns out it’s nearly impossible for the clipboard apps to just do a “paste” when you select an item. Most of the apps “pastes” your selection to the clipboard, and then you have to hit paste *again* to perform the actual function. There were a couple of other apps that can paste if you used a different keystroke or shortcut, such as hitting number 1~10 after selecting an item.

In the end, nothing was as good as my trusty stand-by: ClipMenu

ClipMenu is a super simple, lightweight donation-ware. You can set it up to record as few or as many items as you want; and if you want to really dig into the options, you can set up how those stored clipboard history items are displayed. For example, you can have a history of 40 items separated by the menu in grouping of 5, or 30 items in group of 10.

Furthermore, ClipMenu does allow you to store snippets as well, with a simple UI that allows you to group and organize the snippets. Lastly, for security reasons, you can set it up to ignore clipboard data from certain programs such as 1Password or the Keychain.

Most importantly, ClipMenu can be activated via a simple shortcut (the default is Cmd+Shift+V), and once you selected an item using the keyboard or the mouse, it will paste the item immediately without another intermediary step.

The only feature that ClipMenu was missing, is the ability to sync across multiple computers. I often do work across my personal desktop, laptop, and work computers (yeah I know, first world problem, right?)… and although very, very rarely do I ever need to access the copy and paste history of another computer, it’s just a “nice to have feature”. But ClipMenu can’t utilize iCloud sync, because it’s not a Mac App Store app.

So here comes Dropbox to the rescue again. Since ClipMenu hasn’t backed in any simple preference to just check “sync via Dropbox” like some other apps (Transmit, for example, can sync favorites via Dropbox now), it will take a little bit of manual labor.

1. Move your ClipMenu application support folder to Dropbox

You can find the clipboard data in: ~/Library/Application Support/ClipMenu

On Mountain Lion, the user Library folder is now hidden by default. You can quickly access it by Opt+Left Click on the “Go” menu while in Finder. You’ll see the Library option magically appear if you have Opt held down.

Now just move the folder over to your Dropbox folder.

2. Create a symbolic link from application support to Dropbox

Start your Terminal, and then type this:

cd ~/Library/Application\ Support/

This will navigate you to your Application Support folder.

ln -s ~/Dropbox/ClipMenu

Now a symlink for ClipMenu’s data should be created.

3. Create symbolic links on other computers

For your other computers, you can just delete the ClipMenu folder in Application Support, and then create the symbolic link that’s already in your Dropbox.

Since this is just a simple trick with symbolic link, this will work with any other cloud storage services that keeps a folder synchronized on your computer. So even if you’re not using Dropbox, you can easily adapt this method to other services like AeroFS or Amazon Cloud Drive.