Tutorial: Clipboard History and Snippets in a Snap

Everyone has an Alfred feature they couldn’t be productive without. For me, it’s Clipboard History.

Clipboard History is a Powerpack feature that has saved me hours of searching for links I’d copied or re-typing text. More than once, it also saved my bacon when my browser or text editor crashed, taking down with it all of my unsaved writing. Thankfully, anything I’d previously saved in Alfred’s clipboard was readily available for me to paste in again.

If you’re not already familiar with Alfred’s clipboard, this tutorial post covers setting up and customising your Clipboard History settings, as well as creating Snippets for your most frequently used bits of text. Even if you think you’re familiar with this feature, you might discover new and useful tips.

Using Clipboard History

One Alfred user called the Clipboard History “the best feature he never knew he needed”; It gives your OS X clipboard a memory so that you can dig through the links, addresses and other useful bits of text you’ve copied recently, making them easier to find and use again.

clipboardviewer

By default, the Clipboard feature is disabled for privacy reasons. To enable it, go to Alfred’s Preferences under Features > Clipboard > History, and check the box next to “Persist for”. You can then choose from the dropdown how long you’d like Alfred to remember your clips for.

You can then show the Clipboard Viewer with a hotkey (Cmd + Alt + V by default) or by using the keyword “clipboard” in Alfred’s search box.

clipboardsearch

The Clipboard Viewer contains the text snippets you’ve copied; You can search by scrolling through the latest 50 clips or by typing a part of your clipped text to narrow down your search to see the relevant clips.

As Alfred strips the formatting from the copied text, you can paste to the currently focused app by selecting the item you want in Alfred’s Clipboard Viewer and hitting the return key without worrying about rogue formatting being pasted in. You can also copy the text back to your current clipboard with Cmd + C.

In the Clipboard preferences, you can choose which applications Alfred should ignore. By default, Keychain Acccess, SecurityAgent, 1Password and Wallet are ignored to ensure that no passwords are saved to your history. You can add to this list if you use a different password manager or want any other applications to be ignored.

Using Snippets

If you often use the same clipboard entries or find you’re typing out the same information frequently (e.g. your address or a particular URL), you can save these bits of text to Snippets.

clipboard snippets

You can create these in Alfred’s preferences, under Features > Clipboard > Snippets. Press the + button (or Cmd + N) to create a new snippet, or double-click an existing one to edit it. Give your Snippet a name and a keyword, then type or paste in the snippet text.

snippet

You can use placeholders within your snippets, so that dynamic content is entered. In the example above, {clipboard} would be replaced with the text in my clipboard.

The Date and Time placeholders use your OS X defaults. You can change these in your Mac’s System Preferences > Language & Region > Advanced in Mavericks (or in Language & Text > Region settings in OS X 10.8):

  • Date: {date}, {date:short}, {date:medium}, {date:long}, {date:full}
  • Time: {time}, {time:short}, {time:medium}, {time:long}, {time:full}

The Clipboard placeholders allow you to quickly format the text while pasting it by uppercasing, lowercasing or capitalising the contents of your clipboard. Using {clipboard} by itself simply pastes the text as plain text.

  • Clipboard: {clipboard}, {clipboard:uppercase}, {clipboard:lowercase}, {clipboard:capitals}

Advanced functionality

Once you’ve set up your Clipboard and Snippets, there are a few additional handy settings you can use.

Advanced users may want to turn on Clipboard Merging, which allows you to append the latest copied clipboard entry to the previously copied text by holding Cmd and double-tapping the C key. You’ll need to switch this on in the Merging preferences.

Your snippets can also be synchronised if you have more than one Mac; Simply go to Alfred’s Advanced Preferences to set up your Dropbox sync folder, and your snippets and many more settings will be synced between your Macs. You can also follow our detailed tutorial on syncing your settings.

You can find more Alfred tutorials here on the blog and on our support site. The forum is also filled with great tips, workflows and custom themes from fellow Alfred users.