The Best Free Multi-Item Clipboard Managers for Mac

Jackson Chung 07-01-2009

As a med student, I constantly have to deal with research papers and write up patient case histories and reports. While it may sound like quite a lot of work, there is often a standard schematic for them; it involves a lot of copying and pasting.


There are quite a few good clipboard managers for Mac which “buffers” or remembers multiple items which were copied to the clipboard. My colleague Ravi 5 Apps to Get More Out of Your New Mac Read More mentioned one of them: Jumpcut, a minimalistic approach to clipboard buffering. If not for this application’s one tiny shortcoming, I’d gladly recommend it to everyone: it only buffers text.

Besides Jumpcut (which didn’t make the cut, pun intended), other clipboard managers which were good but didn’t quite make it were iClip Lite – a Dashboard widget rip-off of the award winning iClip (I was too lazy to dive into Dashboard every time); and ClipMenu – perfectly good application but navigating through items proved to be very cumbersome.

Now, let’s have a look at two clipboard managers which did make it and are considered to be the crème de la crème by yours truly.


If you haven’t given PTHPasteboard a try, you should. It is probably one of the best free Mac clipboard managers and is almost fully functional. The reason I say “almost” is because some of the more impressive features in PTHPasteboard like network syncing and filters are only found in its Pro version, which you have to fork out $25 for.

clipboard manager for mac

If you’re planning to use PTHPasteboard on an individual non-networked Mac, then you’re perfectly well-off. Everything in this application is configurable – from the amount of items it remembers, their maximum file sizes, hotkeys to do just about anything and even the menubar icon can be changed if the default one doesn’t strike your fancy.


clipboard tool mac

clipboard viewer

PTHPasteboard is capable of storing almost every file type you throw at it, not only text. It sits quietly in your menubar until you call on it with a hotkey or click on the menubar icon. To find out more about how it works, check out this screencast.

If you’re wailing over the fact that you’re unwilling to part with $25 to purchase PTHPasteboard Pro in order to get the network clipboard synchronizing feature, I have good news for you…



Shadow is a multi-item clipboard manager utility fo Mac that’s pretty mind blowing. And yes, it does have the option of sharing your clipboard with other networked Macs using Bonjour provided that Shadow is also running on the other Macs.

shadow - free mac clipboard manager

Shadow allows you to create several customized clipboards so you can decide on what gets shared. Shared clipboards can also be password-protected to prevent unwanted noses poking around.

One cool thing which makes Shadow shine (I’m not sure about this pun) is its Quick Look feature. Selecting an item and pressing Spacebar will invoke the Quick Look window, allowing you to view its contents. That’s really useful if you constantly copy large amounts of text and you can sift through them as to confidently paste the correct items each time.


Shadow is public beta and from what I see, it’ll be a nifty piece of software when it’s ready for launch.

Windows users looking for similar applications to manage their clipboards should look into Mark’s article on ClipX.

Any other multi-item clipboard managers that are better than PTHPasteboard or Shadow? Would you like to defend Jumpcut or iClip Lite? Voice out in the comments.

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  1. Juyoung Kim
    May 19, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    Hi Jackson. I dont normally do this but gonna leave a post. Thank you mate!

  2. handsofaten
    December 29, 2009 at 10:48 am

    This is a helpful post -- but unless I'm missing something, PTHPasteboard no longer has a free version. There's a demo that lasts for 16 days.