Use the Web Clipboard instead of the clipboard in Google Docs

Learn this new trick and work smarter in Google Docs

Did you know that you have access to two different clipboard systems when using Google Docs? Do you know how to access them and what the difference is? Here is everything you need to know.

The system clipboard

There is the standard Windows clipboard that we all know and use all the time (Linux and OS X also provide a similar system clipboard). This clipboard is used by default. This means that if you highlight some text in a Google Docs document and press Ctrl+C, or right click it and select Copy from the menu that is displayed, it is saved to the Windows system clipboard.

The Windows clipboard works across all applications because the information that is copied is stored by Windows outside of the application you are using. If you cut or copy text or images from one application on your PC you can then paste them into another application.

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For example, you could copy some text in Notepad and then paste it into a Google Docs document, a Sheets spreadsheet or Slides slide. They don’t even have to be the same application type, so you can copy an image from a photo editor and paste it into a Google Docs document.

It works in the reverse direction too, and you can copy text and images in Google Docs documents and then paste them into another application, such as Microsoft Word.

The web clipboard

The web clipboard is a feature that is built into Google Docs. To use it you select some text in the usual way and then you must use go to the Edit menu and select Web clipboard. Click Copy selection to web clipboard and it is saved.

There are several advantages to using the web clipboard instead of the system clipboard and one is that you can store multiple items on it. Select some text in a Google document, go to Edit, Web clipboard and then save it. You can repeat this again and again with additional items.

Return to Edit, Web clipboard, let the mouse hover it for a second and all the items you copied are listed. Move the mouse over the item you want and a menu appears on the right that enables you to Paste as rich text (the option you’ll use most) or Paste as HTML.

 Google Docs web clipboardAs you mouse over a clipboard item, it is displayed below in a preview panel.

An interesting feature of the web clipboard is that it is linked to your Google account. This means that if you open a Google document on another computer, all the items you copied to the web clipboard are there.

In fact, it works not just across Windows computers, but any computer. Even Apple Mac and Linux. You can copy text to the web clipboard on a Windows PC and access it on an Apple Mac.

One disadvantage is that the web clipboard does not work across applications, it’s just for Google documents. Another disadvantage is that it is not available in Google Sheets. That's a shame, it could be useful.

System clipboard

  • Works across applications
  • Only works on one computer
  • Only one item can be copied to the clipboard

Web Clipboard

  • Only works in Google Docs
  • Works across all your computers
  • Multiple items can be copied and stored on the clipboard

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