Keyboard Maestro as a Clipboard manager

I am a relative newbie when it comes to KM. I have written a few macros but that is about it. In the past I have been using the clipboard manager in Launchbar on those occasions I needed to grab something from the history. I find myself using that feature more and more often and decided I wanted to get a dedicated clipboard manager. In short order I was reminded that KM has a clipboard manager and a few web sites I ran across extolled its many virtues! So, since I already have KM and am severely under utilizing it I thought I would use its clipboard facilities instead. The problem, I don’t seem to get “it”.

This AM I had to make several edits to a file and when I ran into issues I went back and cut out the changes expecting to paste them back in one at a time once I got things back to stable. And here is where I ran into my first problem. I am not even sure that I am accessing the clipboard history correctly. Part of it is a confusion of the “switchers”.

After digging around I thought that the order of use would be to just use the normal cut/copy keystrokes that I always had. To get to the history, I expected that opening either the Clipboard Paste Switcher or the Clipboard History Switcher I would find the history and be good to go.

The Paste Switcher appeared to be a way to switch which clipboard I would ??? I don’t know, paste into? Copy into? All I saw were named clipboard, the system clipboard and the default. Curiously there is one with a blank name too? Can that be deleted? I guess that is another question for another thread.

So, next I opened the Clipboard history switcher and that did not seem to have the history either. It had a smattering of snippets, one was the most recent clip I had made. The rest appeared to be random snippets from yesterday, and some were from many weeks ago (as near as I can remember). None of the stuff that I cut from the document earlier today was there. As a sanity check I opened the Launchbar clipboard history and everything was in there as expected.

I searched around figuring there was probably some kind of FAQ or website that would explain how to use, and get the most out or, the clipboard manager features of TM. But there were none that I could find. Added to it, almost all the clipboard searches I did resulted in articles about using the Clipboards within macros. I guess I am just dense. :frowning:

Is there a clipboard manager for dummies somewhere out there? This seems like it should be simple but so far it has alluded me. It is the end of a long day so I admit I may not be firing on all cylinders but these seems like it should be as easy at hitting and seeing the magical history list of clips. :-/

It can be very confusing, but Keyboard Maestro has a great clipboard facility.

Start by reading this:
Clipboards [Keyboard Maestro Wiki]

You may want to download/install this macro:
Paste and Delete from History

I mostly just use the Clipboard History Switcher and the above macro.

Here is my use case that makes the above macro so valuable to me:

  • I need to copy several different items (like from a web page), and then paste all of them in another app or web page post (like this forum).
  • So, I copy the items in REVERSE order that I want them to appear when I paste.
  • Then I simply “Paste and Pop” (pop meaning that it removes the item) using this macro, once for each item I have copied.

I don’t lose any of my prior clipboards.
In fact, when I get done, the last clipboard before I started this use case is now on the System Clipboard (or KM Clipboard #0), ready to paste, if I need it.

The Clipboard History Switcher has several features I use a lot:

  1. Paste from an earlier clipboard (copy) just by double-clicking on it.
  2. Use its Search feature to find a prior clipboard.
  3. Paste as plain text (shift-click on paste button)

Hopefully that will get you started.
If you are still confused, post the exact steps you want to use in your example above.

@JMichaelTX already has provided you with very useful links to the KM Wikipedia and some usage examples. So, here just some direct answers to your questions:

The Paste, Cut and Copy Switchers are switchers for named clipboards. The History Switcher is the only one for the clipboard history. Named clipboards are clipboards you have explicitly created, for example with actions like “Copy to Named Clipboard” --> New….

The only explication for this is that KM Engine was not running all the time. If it isn’t running it can’t save the clipboard history. Please note that KM Engine, a background process, is not the same as the KM Editor. If you want to make full use of KM, the KM Engine should always be running, ideally as startup item.

You have already mentioned in your post that you are using LaunchBar. It includes a great clipboard history manager. Another great tool, specialized into clipboard history, is Copied.

Not sure what was going on but TM was running the entire time. I do use the macro facilities, it is the clipboard that I am just getting started with. I did have all the triggers for the switchers disabled so maybe that had something to do with it?

I am starting to get the hang of the clipboards now, or at least I have some idea what can be done and what is possible. One thing I noticed with the app you posted (Copied) was the ability to group clips by application. I thought that would be pretty handy and something I might be able to do in KM. So, I dug into the macros.

I can fire a macro based on a clipboard change, and I can check is an application is active. What I can’t seem to do is to check if an application is active at the time of the clipboard change. Instead, the active app trigger wants to poll every so often and it fires regardless of the previous trigger.

Is it not possible to trigger macros based on multiple triggers using and instead of or? If that were possible then it would make sense to have a trigger that simply checks for the active application when that trigger fires. I don’t think this is possible, but it seems like it should be doable. Any chance of getting something like that added to the capabilities of KM?


According to this post: no.

But, as Peter says in that post, you always can add an If…Then test.
In your case, to check if an app is running, it would be this: