How to copy and paste multiple items at once in Windows using Ditto Clipboard Manager – a great free productivity tool to save time copying and pasting.
The Windows clipboard is used for temporary data storage and transfer between documents or applications, via copy and paste.
An example of this clipboard in action is if you ‘copy’ some text from a document to put into another document – that text is stored in the clipboard. When you ‘paste’ the text, it is retrieved from there and moved into the new document.
Limitations of Windows Clipboard
Windows clipboard has two major limitations:
1. You can only copy one item at a time. If you want to copy 4 different sentences from a letter into another letter you must copy and paste each sentence individually.
This requires lots of swapping back and forth between the documents – and trying to find the specific text to copy all over again…
This limitation applies to all types of data copied, including pictures and text – you can’t copy and paste multiple items, only one at a time.
2. The copied data is only stored temporarily in the clipboard. When your computer shuts down, the contents of the clipboard are lost forever.
These limitations can waste a lot of your time if you frequently need to copy and paste multiple items. Ditto Clipboard Manager extends the capability of Windows clipboard to eliminate both issues.
What Is Ditto Clipboard Manager?
It is a free extension to the standard Windows clipboard that lets you copy and paste multiple items. When you copy something, Ditto Clipboard Manager takes what you copied and stores it permanently in its own database – to retrieve (paste) at a later time.
You can access and ‘paste’ any of those stored items later – and the items will still be available after the computer has shut down and restarted.
Ditto can save any type of information that can be put into the clipboard e.g. text, images, screenshots, html or custom formats.
Copy and Paste Multiple Items Using Ditto
1. Download it from the developer here – the main download is the standard 32bit installation program but there are also 64bit and Portable (no need to install) versions available.
2. Install it – during installation you will be asked if you want Ditto to run at startup (un-tick this checkbox if you prefer to start it manually). You can change this startup behavior later in the program’s Options if required.
Note: if your antivirus firewall asks to let Ditto receive incoming connections, choose not to allow these – unless you are an advanced user who wishes to transfer copied items from Ditto over your own home network (i.e. to other computers).
3. Run the program – it will appear as a blue ball in the system tray at the bottom right of the screen.
4. Copy as many things to the clipboard as you like by copying in the usual way – these items will be stored in Ditto’s database for you to paste later.
5. When you want to paste items, make sure your mouse cursor is positioned where you want the data to be pasted into e.g. in a document or email.
6. Open Ditto by clicking its blue icon in the system tray (or by pressing its Hot Key which is CTRL plus the single quote ‘ key).
The clipboard window appears as shown in the example below:
The most recently copied entry is displayed first in the list. Hovering over an entry displays the full description and the date/time it was added to Ditto’s clipboard.
7. Double click or press enter on an item to paste it into the position you previously selected.
Tips On Using Ditto Clipboard Manager
- To keep the clipboard window displayed all the time, press both CTRL and the Spacebar at the same time – pressing them both again toggles back to hiding the clipboard window after use.
- If you have lots of items stored in Ditto you can search for an item by typing into the search box at the bottom.
In the example below, I wanted to find the one saved item that included the word ‘vector’ – the list of saved items narrows down dynamically as you type so just typing ‘vec’ reduced my item list to just the correct entry, ready for pasting:
- [Optional for advanced users] – right click on the Ditto program icon in the system tray and select ‘Options’ to display an array of options. See the developer’s wiki help pages for full documentation.
- As with any clipboard manager, you can’t paste an item into a program that is not capable of accepting the pasted format e.g. you can’t paste an image into Notepad but you can paste it into Word or a graphics program.
Ditto Clipboard Manager is an excellent productivity tool which saves a lot of time when doing repetitive copy and pastes.
It is one of those programs that, once you have used it for a while, you can’t do without – and you wonder why Microsoft has never bothered to include this type of feature in Windows…
The program is simple to use yet has many powerful extra features such as the ability to search within saved items and to transfer items over a network.
Note: the Microsoft Office Clipboard (Office 2007+) lets you copy up to 24 items from Office documents or other programs and paste them into an Office document. But, these are only available in Office programs and are temporary – they’re lost when you exit all Office programs.
If you found this article a useful timesaver, why not see my tip on how to add a one click function to quickly send a webpage by email in Chrome (or Firefox and IE).