How to Clear the Clipboard

With so much focus on privacy and security, protecting yourself in today’s digital world is extremely important. Although there are many ways to achieve this, some minor privacy threats may slip through unnoticed. One such example is the clipboard feature on your device.

Any digital device you use has a clipboard: temporary memory in every operating system that allows you to cut, copy and paste a line of text, an image, or an entire directory. But if you do not clear the clipboard after you are done using a device, someone might take advantage of its contents.

How to Empty the Clipboard on a Windows 10 Device

With the release of Windows 10 build 1909, Microsoft redesigned their clipboard viewer. Although they have not changed almost anything in terms of available features, your clipboard looks a bit cleaner now.

To view and delete the current contents of the clipboard, follow the steps below:

  1. Step 1

    On your keyboard, press the Windows and V buttons at the same time. This will open the Clipboard pop-up window. Here you can see the last couple of items you have copied.
  2. Step 2

    To remove one of the entries, click the three dots in the upper right corner of that entry.
  3. Step 3

    This opens a small menu with three options. Click Delete to remove the entry.
  4. Step 4

    If you want to clear the entire clipboard, then instead of clicking Delete, click Clear all.
  5. Step 5

    If there are some entries you would like to keep in the clipboard, click the three-dot menu for that entry and click Pin. This way you can clear the entire clipboard, but the entries you have pinned will remain available.
  6. Step 6

    To remove any of the entries you have previously pinned, choose Unpin from the three-dot menu.
  7. Step 7

    Next time you use the Clear all feature, this entry will be gone. Of course, instead of clicking Unpin you can also click Delete to immediately remove the entry.

There’s also an even faster way to navigate the clipboard. You can use the arrow buttons on the keyboard to go up and down through the entries. When you highlight the entry you do not need, you can quickly remove it by pressing the Delete button on your keyboard.

Windows 10 Versions Prior to Build 1909

For anyone who still did not get to update their Windows 10 to version 1909 or newer, the clipboard experience will slightly differ. When you open the clipboard using the Win+V shortcut, you’ll notice that the Clear all button is at the top right corner of the window.

Another difference compared to the newer version is that there is no three dots button on each of the entries. In order to delete an entry, click the “x” button in the entry’s top right corner. To pin it, click the pin icon, and that is it.

Managing the Clipboard

A great thing about Windows 10 is that it also lets you manage how you are using the clipboard.

To open the clipboard settings, do the following:

  1. Step 1

    Click the Windows button in the lower-left corner of the screen then click the Settings icon. It is the one right above the Power icon.
  2. Step 2

    Click System.
  3. Step 3

    From the menu to the left, click Clipboard.

The Clipboard menu has three options:

  1. Clipboard history allows you to save multiple items to the clipboard and use the Win+V shortcut to access it. If you set it to Off, the clipboard will contain only one item. Next time you copy or cut something, that content will replace the one you had in the clipboard before it.
  2. Sync across devices lets you share your clipboard’s content with other devices you might be using. Just sign in with your Microsoft account and that is it.
  3. Clear clipboard data is the same as the Clear all option you have in the clipboard menu. It is the one you access with the Win+V command. This will delete anything from the clipboard you have not pinned previously while keeping the pinned items intact.

It is worth noting that there is also an even faster way to get to the Clipboard settings menu.

  1. Step 1

    Press the Windows key on your keyboard then start typing clipboard.
  2. Step 2

    The Clipboard settings entry will appear in the results. Click it.

How to Empty the Clipboard on a Mac

Unlike Windows 10, Mac computers can only keep one entry at a time. When you copy or cut something, the new content will replace the old. Considering this, there are multiple ways to clear any sensitive content you might have copied to the clipboard.

The easiest thing to do is to copy something else that does not contain sensitive information. To perform the Copy action, press the Command and C buttons on your keyboard at the same time. Note that you can also select the text you want to copy, right-click it, and select Copy from the pop-up menu.

For example, find some text on your computer, then copy a random word, letter, or even the space between two worlds, and you are done. To make sure you have cleared the clipboard of any sensitive information, paste its content to an empty document or the address bar of your browser. That way, you will see what is currently in the clipboard.

Another way to check what is in your clipboard is through the Show Clipboard feature. Then you won’t have to paste the contents to verify it.

  1. Open the Finder app on your Mac.
  2. Click the Edit tab.
  3. Click Show Clipboard.

Finally, there is a third way to purge any content from your clipboard for good, using Mac’s Terminal app.

  1. Open Finder.
  2. Click the Applications folder from the menu to the left.
  3. Click Utilities.
  4. Click Terminal.
  5. Now type in the following text:
    pbcopy < /dev/null
  6. Press Enter on your keyboard.

This command clears the entire content of the clipboard. If you start the Show Clipboard app, you will notice it does not contain any entries anymore.

How to Empty the Clipboard on a Chromebook

Unfortunately, Chrome OS does not have a way to show you the contents of the clipboard unless you paste it. Just like on Mac, you can store only one item in your clipboard. To do so, you can press the Ctrl+C combination on your keyboard. Of course, you can also select some text, right-click it, and select either Copy or Cut.

Luckily, there are some third-party apps that bring you more control over your clipboard. These even let you store multiple items instead of only one. One of the most popular such apps is Clipboard History. You can install it directly from the Play Store.

When you install the app, it will instantly start running in the background. This way you won’t have to start the app every time you want to access your clipboard. Simply copy all the content you need and Clipboard History will automatically store these entries in its list.

To view the clipboard’s content:

  1. Step 1

    Open the Clipboard History app and you will be able to access everything you have copied until now.
  2. Step 2

    Next to each entry, you will see the two pages icon. When you click it, that entry will move to the top of the clipboard.
  3. Step 3

    Now simply press Ctrl and V on your keyboard at the same time, and you will paste that entry’s content.

Another great thing about this app is that it lets you edit the text content of each entry in the clipboard. Simply click the entry you want to edit and change the text to your liking.

Finally, the Clipboard History app lets you clear the clipboard of any unwanted content.

  1. Step 1

    Click the entry you want gone.
  2. Step 2

    To delete the entire clipboard, click the Settings button in the top right corner of the app’s window and select Clear clipboard.

How to Empty the Clipboard on an iPhone

By default, iOS does not provide any clipboard management tools on its own. To check the contents of your clipboard, open any app that allows you to type some text. For example, you can use Notes to do this.

  1. Step 1

    Open the Notes app on your iPhone.
  2. Step 2

    Tap New note.
  3. Step 3

    Now tap and hold on empty space.
  4. Step 4

    Tap Paste from the menu that appears.
  5. Step 5

    If there is anything in your clipboard, it is contents will appear in your note.

If the text you  have copied contains some sensitive information, you can clear it in three easy steps:

  1. Step 1

    Type something random in the Notes app. For example, you can type a letter a.
  2. Step 2

    Select the letter “a” and wait for the Cut, Copy, Paste menu to appear. Now tap Copy or Cut and that is it.

You have replaced the previous content of the clipboard with the letter “a.” To check if you have done so successfully, perform the Paste operation. Now the letter “a” should appear, confirming you have cleared the clipboard of the sensitive content.

If you want more control over the clipboard on your iPhone or iPad, then you might turn to alternative solutions. Thanks to many third-party apps out there, you can achieve a level of control just as you have on Windows 10 machines.

Some of the most popular clipboard management apps for iOS include “Paste,” “Copied,” “CLIP+,” and “SnipNotes.” Besides the basic clipboard functions, some of these apps bring along a lot of additional features as well. For example, if you copy a phone number, you can directly dial it from the clipboard. Some apps even let you organize all the clipboard contents by sorting it in dedicated folders.

How to Empty the Clipboard on an Android Device

For Android devices, the process is basically the same as on iOS. First, you need to check the contents of the clipboard by pasting it to an app with a text editor. Next, type some random text or a single letter, select it, and copy it. This way, you have cleared your clipboard of any sensitive content you might have had previously. Of course, it never hurts to check the current clipboard content by pasting it somewhere else.

As far as clipboard management apps go, there is quite a few available for Android as well. Some of the apps you can consider are “Clip Stack,” “Clipper,” “Easy Copy,” and “Copy Bubble.” Just like the similar apps for iOS, depending on which one you choose, you will also get other cool options as well.

Keeping the Clipboard Tidy

Hopefully, you now know how to clear the clipboard contents on any device you might have. This ensures that no sensitive details are leftover. This is extremely useful when you are not using your own device for personal tasks. And if your device does not allow you to manage the clipboard, there are many apps you can install which will provide this advantage.

Have you managed to clear the clipboard on your device? Are you using any of the third-party clipboard management apps? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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