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Productivity: Clipboard as Auto Save

I just thought about how to auto magically save my textual work without all these file here, file there and how to name it aspects. Just auto magically save my work without all the hassle. All these nasty ‘did I really delete this text’ moments are gone with my solution.

Best of all … It works for absolutely every application because it uses a system wide available feature and it gives you chronological versions … primitive but very effective.


It is so easy … use a clipboard monitor!

What is a clipboard monitor? A clipboard monitor is a feature which exists in every good editor. A clipboard monitor automatically appends data copied to the clipboard to a file or draws it into an an internal application which manages clipboard activities. If you are lucky this file can be auto saved every n minutes. If you are very lucky both applications ‘monitor’ and ‘manager’ can run parallel and give you plenty of possibilities to monitor, manage and save your textual work just by the simple use of ‘copy to clipboard’. Ctrl-C becomes your backup wizard!

Open up the text editor of your choice, open a new file and activate the feature ‘clipboard monitor’ (if available). I am using and recommending two editors of my choice. In PSPad it’s in the menu tools / ‘clipboard monitor’ or can be activated with Alt-M. In Note Tab light it’s the menu Document / ‘Use as paste board’ or the shortcut Shift-Ctrl-P.

PSPad gives you the opportunity to manage every single clipboard entry but doesn’t automatically save the monitored content to a file. The ‘manager’ feature is very helpful because during a day you will have many messy entries and maybe just want to reuse a single one or a single version. PSPad does NOT SAVE the clipboard monitor entries if the application is closed (as far as I know)! This is totally fine for people who don’t need the storage feature of clipboard monitoring. Better use a second application which gives a more messy result but saves every copied text. Below I will explain how to do it with the free text editor Note Tab light.

In Note Tab light it is also very easy to get incremental versions of the saved files if you need it! How to activate and configure the Note Tab light text editor:

  1. Open the general options in menu View / Options
  2. Go to tab Files
  3. Activate ‘make backups‘, backup type ‘incremental‘ and ‘every n minutes
  4. Open a new file
  5. Save it as ‘you-name-it.txt’
  6. Activate menu point Document / Use as paste board

So, how to use it? For safety reasons I use to copy the version of my content always when switching views in i.e. PFF or an online editor. I do this automatically to makes sure I always have the latest version in memory in case the application is messing things up. (Side note: It’s also an often criticized AJAX feature if it is not caught by the developers … press ‘back’ and your text is gone!) That’s the old experience with software testing. I learned it the hard way 🙂

You have the choice … it’s a feature not a bug 🙂
In PFF text is copied depending on the viewing style. If your are copying from RTF view the source code is not saved but a text version of your content. If you are using the source code view … well, then the source code is saved.

The best thing is that you can use both applications parallel. Use PSPad as clipboard manager and use Note Tab light as storage device for all the great things you are copying to the clipboard.

Clap hands, spread it, link it, comment it and give feedback how YOU are saving your work!

PS: Paste without formatting … search for PlainPaste.ahk. A double Ctrl-V and formatting is gone …

Categories / Keywords / Technorati Tags: Markus, Merz, 2006, clipboard, monitor, manager, tool, cool, auto save, editor, PSPad, Note Tab, text, productivity, safety, storage, backup

Author: markusm

6 thoughts on “Productivity: Clipboard as Auto Save

  1. You might wanna check free ClipX (http://www.bluemars.org/clipx/) along with its plugins … might be just something you look for
    (I tend to set amount of remembered clipboards to high value and use plugin to limit remembering overly big texts {ususally anything over 500kb should be saved somewhere else anyway})
    search-clips-as-you-type is a killer feature … and saving clips between restarts just works … and if you miss something … find/make plugin 😛

  2. The advantage (and security issue!!! -> see note below) with my solution is that it saves every piece of text which is copied to the clipboard … file names, passwords (!!!), configurations (!!!) text clips … everything … whatever you do or which application you are using.

    Every copy is a save! After n minutes it’s a backup and a new version!

    Regarding security:

    1. First of all you should not work as root or administrator. If you do that YOU are the biggest risk! For extensive Internet surfing and even working on the Internet it is a must to be a restricted user! (Windows: No, not even a main user is OK. A restricted user is really recommended.)
    2. Second you should create your own clipboard folder for the backups and strictly forbid (!) everyone except your (restricted 🙂 user ID to have access to that folder.
    3. If you are paranoid you must look for the sensitive data and delete it (note: if you are paranoid you are not using the clipboard at all to C&P your passwords … you see how easy it is to monitor it!)
  3. Great article. Have you heard of Writely.com? You can write and save documents online, so you don’t have to worry about having to use any other text editor. My 2 cents, anyway 😉

  4. One obvious thing is that I am only talking about pure text clips. It will not work with binary content … or you need a different application which monitors the clipboard for binary content like pictures. Can somebody recommend a solution for binary content?

    The second point is that it is off course no real automatic backup solution. Are we having any Greasemonkey wizards around to automate the ‘copy to clipboard’ feature. Now you always have to manually copy the text to the clipboard first. Which brings up the third point …

    A third thing which I will have to watch a while first before I really can commit it is regarding the backup possibilities of Note Tab light. I was looking for a text clip from yesterday and I didn’t find it. Maybe there are some limitations regarding the length of the file or the clips … I am not sure … maybe I simply forgot to copy it. What speaks for the ‘I forgot it’ theory is that I can’t find the clip in PSPad either … so maybe false alarm. Everything else is working flawlessly as expected.

  5. Such compliments are always welcome!

    That configuration with PSPad and Note Tab light is running all day now in the background and is doing exactly what I described. I checked it pretty often to be sure I did not write any bull****. I am feeling much safer with this solution than without. Before leaving a textbox to do some research or whatever I just do a Ctrl-A followed by Ctr-C and I am safe.

    Update: I created a folder for the auto saved file called ‘clipboard monitor’. I am sure Google Desktop will be a great help to find my content whenever I need it.

  6. I’ve often thought about working on a productivity tools that solves problems like this, but have been stumped by the need to keep it simple.

    Also, NoteTab is a very useful software – an ideal Notepad replacement, especially if you do light code editing and don’t want the hassle of Dreamweaver.

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