Clipboard Managers for Ubuntu as of April 2019

I have been researching clipboard managers for Linux, (Ubuntu with Gnome,) and I am recording my findings here for the benefit of others.


Available in https://www.imagination-land.org/tags/GPaste.html As of the time of writing this, the latest version is 3.32.0 (March 12, 2019) but this version is not available via apt.  The latest version available via apt is 3.28.0-3, I guess it will have to do.

Decent looking user interface, but wasteful in terms of screen real estate, clunky, and actually annoying due to buttons whose icons are unintuitive and at the same time do not offer tooltips, so you have no way of knowing what the button does unless you click it.  (And it also has buttons that do not seem to do anything, so you will never know.)

Also quite buggy.  Supports a bunch of hotkeys for various arcane capabilities, but the mechanism for changing them does not work.

Also, badly designed: in the dialog that pops up when you invoke the history, the focus is not on the previously copied item, (which is what you want in the vast majority of cases,) the focus is on a stupid search box.

Also, it does not automatically paste, so after selecting an entry from the history you still have to press Ctrl+V in order to actually paste it into the application that you are using.

Thumbs down.

Keepboard (for Linux)

Immediately after installation, on the very first run, during startup, it dies with a NullPointerException.

The author posted a comment here suggesting that I give it another try, so I gave it another try with version 5.5 released in January of 2020.

Now it does not die with a NullPointerException, it just runs doing nothing.  The only way I know it is running is by using "ps -A", because it is not giving any other sign of life anywhere on my screen.  Also, there exists absolutely no documentation for the project, not even a single sentence explaining how to use it, so it is impossible to know whether this behavior is intended or unintended. This means that I had to waste a lot of my precious time trying to find out whether it is working and I just do not know how to use it, or it is simply not working at all and there is no way to use it.  I finally decided that it is the latter.

My verdict is "don't waste your time with this". 


Available via http://parcellite.sourceforge.net/.  Back in January of 2017 the author wrote "Nothing for years, then two releases in the same day".  He has been quiet ever since.  (And the previous update was like in 2014.)  So, forget it.


Available via https://launchpad.net/glipper.  Last update was in 2013, so, forget it.


A very old program.  Comes preinstalled with Ubuntu.  When run, it fails with the message "Error: another clipboard is already running".  There is a page from 2009 explaining how to fix this problem, (https://lildude.co.uk/howto-use-xclipboard-with-gnome) but judging by how xclipboard looks in the screenshots, I do not feel compelled to keep trying.


Home page is https://hluk.github.io/CopyQ/. It is available via apt, latest version in apt is 3.2.0.  For Ubuntu there is also ppa:hluk/copyq which hosts the latest version, 3.8.0. Updates are frequent, with the latest being just a few days ago.

Copyq is a monster of a clipboard manager, packed with an awful lot of features and offering a ridiculous degree of control.  Besides the menu that drops down from the taskbar indicator allowing you to see your clipboard history and make a selection, it also has an extensive preferences window, and one more window which they call "main" and which allows you to manipulate your history entries, as if that's a very important thing deserving its own window.

The application is so over-engineered that it even has its own "task manager" and it supports color theming on the window they call "main". Yet, it lacks some very basic customization features, for example the ability to get rid of unnecessary menu items in the drop-down menu so as to have a more minimalistic experience.

The application is a bit buggy.  One bug I found is that if you have the preferences window open, and then you also open the main window, then the main window is not responding unless you close the preferences first.  Another bug is that its taskbar icon often gets lost, even though the application is still active and responding to the hotkey.  Another bug is that every few seconds the application scans the entire directory where clipboard entries are saved, each in its separate file, so if you have lots of files there, it consumes a lot of CPU (and therefore energy) doing this. The worst problem is that it confuses the numeric keypad keys with their non-numeric keypad equivalents, so there is no way to specify a hotkey on the numeric keypad, like Ctrl + Shift + Numeric-Keypad-Insert.

To the author's credit, when I reported the last two issues to him, he fixed them relatively quickly.

Unfortunately, in each case a couple of months had to pass before the fix appeared in an actual release of the software.

Most of the exotic features are unintuitive, so you are unlikely to use them because you will probably not even know what they do, but all the basics are there.

Bottom line is that this is a very useful clipboard manager, and the overengineering that has gone into it does not seem to hurt, because
a) it is not ridiculously large, (only about 2MB to download, 7MB on the disk) 
b) the unnecessary extra functionality does not get too much in the way of using the small subset of the functionality that is actually useful, and 
c) the functionality that is actually useful does really work, and it works well.

If you do use it, do not forget to immediately go to "Preferences" -> "Items" -> "Synchronize" and add a folder for saving your clipboard, because CopyQ does not do that automatically for you.  (So, even though the app has the feature, and you may have made sure that the feature is enabled, your clippings are still not being saved unless you take additional action.)

Update 2020-05-31: Up until today CopyQ had been working fine for the minimal functionality that I have wanted from it, namely to be able to paste old clipboard entries, nothing more.  It even survived my upgrade to Ubuntu 20.4.  However, today I needed to open up the CopyQ main window to change something in its configuration, and as soon as I would click on any part of the main window, it would just disappear without even saying good-bye.  So, I uninstalled it.  It was a monstrosity anyway.


Home page is https://launchpad.net/diodon.

The application icon is a blowfish, which is a bit over the top, and yet its icon on the gnome indicator bar is a tiny paperclip, which is rather underwhelming.  (But of course a blowfish on the indicator bar would have looked even worse.)

Decent, minimalistic, and extensible with plugins. 

At first glance it disappoints, but if you give it a second chance it seems to come through.  For instance, the first time I ran it it just did not appear to store anything in history: no matter what I copied to the clipboard, its history list remained empty. Then, the second time I ran it, I found in its history list everything that I had copied earlier. Then I manually assigned a hotkey for it, (I know, it is a nuisance, but it is okay, because you only do it once,) but the first time I used the hotkey nothing happened. But after the second time it started working.

So, I am giving it a try, I will post an update after a while.


Or perhaps https://github.com/CristianHenzel/ClipIt

A decent little clipboard manager that does no more than what is necessary.  The most delightful aspect of it is that its popup menu does not contain any useless crap, just your clipboard history, as it should.

Unfortunately, when you select an item from history, there appears to be a half second delay before the text is actually pasted, and there appears to be no option to change this behavior.

I used to be excited by this utility, because I very much prefer its minimalism over CopyQ's pompousness, but I gave it a try twice, and on both occasions it miserably disappointed me by continuously crashing and generally not working.


Last update was in 2013, so, forget it.


Home page appears to be https://github.com/fmoralesc/pastie/
Has no README.
Last update was 4 years ago, so forget it.


It is for "xfce", so it is a no-go for Ubuntu, which uses Gnome.  (Besides, I even tried it, just to be sure, and it just does not work.)

Clipboard Indicator (Gnome Shell Extension)

Home page: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/779/clipboard-indicator

Either this is a clone of GPaste, or GPaste is a clone of this.

Has the very nice ability to show the first few characters of the current clipboard content next to its icon on the task bar.  Unfortunately, that's the only good thing I have to say about it.

It has a maximum history length of only 50, and as if that was not ridiculous enough, it will only show the last 15 of them.

When you open the menu, the first selectable entry is a stupid search box, (as if you will ever need to search through a meager 50 entries,) so you always need one extra press of the "down" arrow to skip the search box to go to the current clipboard entry, and one more to go to the previous clipboard entry, which is what you want like 99% of the time.

The author's idea of how favorites should work is that they should be pinned to the top of the list, so each time you add a favorite you are increasing the number of times you will have to press the down-arrow before you can reach the previous clipboard entry.

Worst of all, when you select an entry, it does not automatically paste it for you, it just places it in the clipboard, so you always need yet one more keystroke to actually paste.

Bottom line: Usable, but annoying.

Clipper (Gnome Shell Extension)

Home page: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/1081/clipper/

Appears to be abandoned.

1 comment:

  1. Good overview. Jfyi, Keepboard startup issue that was appearing in newer Java versions has been fixed.