For most computer users, copy & paste is as natural a process as anything else. On mobile platforms though, it hasn’t exactly been a staple. It took a couple of years for the iPhone to get the feature running and the recently released Windows Phone 7 platform is rumored to be getting it soon. Android, luckily for us users, has had copy & paste all the time, and as with every other Android function, application developers haven’t shied away from enhancing it further.
Clipper is one such application that enhances the default single-purpose system clipboard in Android by adding a memory to it. The concept is pretty simple: every time you copy a piece of text, Clipper adds it to a list, letting you go back and paste not just the text that was copied last, but anything you choose from a list of all of them.
Imagine a situation where you need to dial a bunch of numbers you got in an e-mail. Rather than copying one, dialing it and going back to the e-mail to copy another, you can simply copy all of them one by one and have them all ready to access in the notification area.
Clipper goes a step beyond clipboard management, by letting you save often-used text as snippets. This could include common phrases, e-mail signatures, or even a macro to enter the current date and time in whatever format you want.
The application has two core features – saving snippets of text that are copied to the system clipboard, and maintaining a library of frequently-used text snippets. Clipper gets around the problem of having to switch between applications to copy and paste by providing easy access from the notification area. To copy a clipboard item or a snippet, simply pull down the notification area from wherever you are, tap the Clipper icon and then tap the text you need from the list to place it on the system clipboard, ready to be pasted.
The clipboard is limited to the 20 most recent entries by default, but this number can be changed from the Preferences panel. Items in the list can be sorted by date, alphabetically by content, or by the number of times they have been copied. The last option can come in especially handy if you need quick access to often-needed pieces of text. There is a handy ‘Search’ feature to help you find exactly what you want. You can also ‘pin’ an item in the list to move it to the top and avoid it being pruned when the list grows beyond the set limit.
If a phrase is used over and over again, you can add it to the snippets list for permanent storage. Snippets behave like clipboard items in most ways otherwise. You can create new snippets manually, or convert items from the clipboard list. A neat feature in the Plus version of the application is the ability to set automatic substitution in a snippet – like the current date and time.
Clipper also lets you export and import all your clippings and snippets to and from the SD Card, which can be very handy when changing phones or recovering from a phone reset.
The Clipper interface is about as simple as things get. All you have are two tabs – Clipboard and Snippets – with the respective lists in each. Tapping a list item copies the text to the Android system clipboard, ready to be pasted in any application you choose. Tap and hold an item for a list of other possible actions. You can view, edit, or delete the item, send it using the default Android ‘share’ list, pin it, or convert it to a snippet.
Snippets have two additional options for moving an item up or down in the list. The interface for editing (or creating a new snippet) also includes a title and the ‘Add Substitution’ button that lets you include code for pasting the current date and/or time along with the copied text. It may not be the most intuitive of UIs, but it gets the job done.
The real power of Clipper comes through in the plethora of customization options it provides. Preferences let you tweak every aspect of the application from how the copy notifications work to managing duplicate entries. You can also remove the automatic logging of copied text by disabling clipboard monitoring, but that generally defeats the main purpose of the application.
One setting I did change every time I installed the application afresh was the font size in the lists. Depending on the size of your screen, the default font size may be a bit too small to view or access.
After having used Clipper for a few days, I can safely say that it is a must-have tool for anyone who writes a fair bit on their Android device. It is simple, yet has the how-did-I-ever-live-without-this quality to it. Although the application is pretty basic right now, it will only grow better with additional features and enhancements.
The basic version of Clipper is free; for 0.99€ you can get the Plus version that adds unlimited clippings and snippets, search functionality, auto-text, and more customization options.