How to View Clipboard History on Mac Featured Image

How to View Clipboard History on Mac: 2 Best Ways

Written by

Reviewed by

Last updated: September 6, 2023

Expert verified

SVG Image

Copy-paste is your one true friend in the digital world, and you can do it quickly on Mac with the Clipboard history feature. The clipboard lets you effortlessly transfer information between different applications, whether it’s snippets of code, important links, or lengthy paragraphs.

However, have you ever accidentally replaced something in your clipboard, only to realize you desperately needed the previous content? If yes, you’re in the right place. In this guide, I’ll unravel the secret to accessing and exploring your Clipboard history on Mac.

Before We Begin

Using energy-consuming apps on your Mac can create obstacles while using Clipboard. While manually identifying and removing these apps can be challenging, MacKeeper’s Memory Cleaner can help. It identifies and removes apps affecting your device’s performance. So, download MacKeeper today.

What Is the Clipboard on Mac?

The clipboard on a Mac is a temporary storage area where you can store text, images, or other types of data you’ve copied or cut from one location and intend to paste into another. It acts as a buffer or temporary holding place for the data you want to transfer or duplicate.

When you copy or cut something on your Mac, it gets stored in the clipboard. You can paste the clipboard’s contents into another application or location using the Paste command (Command ⌘ + V).

The clipboard can hold only one item at a time. Each time you copy or cut something new, the previous item in the clipboard is replaced.

How Does the macOS Clipboard Work?

The macOS clipboard facilitates the copying and pasting of text, images, files, and other types of content on Mac computers. It acts as a temporary storage location, allowing you to store data that can be pasted into different applications or documents.

When you copy something to the clipboard, it replaces any previously copied content and stores the new item in its memory. This enables you to move or duplicate information without manually retyping or file transfers.

The clipboard can hold a single item at a time, and its contents remain accessible until you overwrite them with a new copy action or restart your Mac. By default, the clipboard doesn’t provide a direct way to view or manage the history of your copied items.

However, Apple introduced a hidden feature called Clipboard History, starting from macOS Sierra (version 10.12) and subsequent updates. This feature extends the clipboard’s functionality by keeping a record of your recently copied items, allowing you to access and paste them later.

Where Can You Find the Clipboard on Mac?

By default, the macOS operating system does not provide a direct user interface or app to access the clipboard or its history. However, there are a few ways to view and manage the clipboard on your Mac:

  1. 📋 Paste Command: The most common method to access the clipboard is using the paste command (Command ⌘ + V) in any application. When you paste, it retrieves the most recent item copied to the clipboard and inserts it into the active document.
  2. 🖱️ Context Menu: Some applications, such as text editors or word processors, may offer a context menu option to access the clipboard history on Mac. Right-clicking within a document or text field may reveal Paste or a similar option, allowing you to choose from recently copied items.
  3. 🧰 Third-Party Clipboard Managers: You can install third-party clipboard manager applications from the Mac App Store or other sources to gain more control over your clipboard history on Mac.

How to View Clipboard History on Mac

With macOS, you can conveniently view and retrieve a history of items you’ve copied or cut, allowing you to access and reuse them.

Here’s how to see clipboard history on Mac:

  1. Open Finder on your Mac.
click finder in your dock
  1. Click Edit in the menu bar.
click edit in the menu bar
  1. Select Show Clipboard from the drop-down menu.
click show clipboard

Upon accessing the Clipboard History feature on your Mac, you’ll see a window that displays the latest contents of your clipboard.

clipboard history on mac

Access Clipboard History on Mac Using Mac Clipboard Managers

There are several excellent clipboard manager apps available for Mac. Here are some popular and highly regarded options to view Clipboard history on Mac:

  1. Alfred: Alfred is a powerful productivity app with a clipboard manager among its many features. It allows you to access clipboard history, search for specific items, and perform actions like merging or deleting entries.
  2. CopyClip: CopyClip is a simple and straightforward clipboard manager that keeps track of your copied items. It provides an easy-to-use interface to access your clipboard history and allows you to organize and manage your clips efficiently.
  3. Paste: Paste is a feature-rich clipboard manager with a visually appealing interface and advanced functionality. It supports text, images, files, and more. Paste provides a searchable clipboard history, tagging, and the ability to sync your clipboard across multiple devices.
  4. Flycut: Flycut is a lightweight clipboard manager focusing on simplicity and ease of use. It stores your clipboard history and allows you to access it through a menu bar icon. Flycut is open-source and free to use.
  5. Unclutter: Unclutter is a multi-purpose app with a clipboard manager, note-taking tool, and file storage area. It provides a unified interface to access all these features, making it convenient to manage your clipboard history alongside other tasks.
  6. iClipboard: iClipboard is a comprehensive clipboard manager with features like clipboard history, organization into groups, search functionality, and the ability to assign keyboard shortcuts. It supports various file types and provides a customizable interface.

What to Do If Clipboard Stops Working

If the Clipboard fails to work on your computer, there are several things you can try to fix the issue. Below, I’ve shared a few methods to try if you’re having trouble fixing a malfunctioning Clipboard.

1. Restart Your Computer 

Sometimes, restarting your computer can help fix issues with the clipboard. Try turning off your computer, waiting a few seconds, and turning it back on. You can follow these steps to restart a MacBook:

  1. Click the Apple menu in the top-left corner of your screen.
  2. Select Restart from the drop-down menu.
click the apple icon and select restart
  1. A pop-up window will appear. Click Restart to initiate the process.
click restart to confirm your decision
  1. Wait for your Mac to shut down and restart. This may take a few moments.
  2. Once your Mac has been restarted, you can log back in, and the Clipboard history should work as usual.

2. Check for Updates

Make sure your operating system and any relevant applications are up-to-date. Sometimes, updates can fix bugs or issues affecting the clipboard. You can easily update your macOS by following these steps:

  1. Click the Apple menu located in the upper left corner of your screen.
  2. From the drop-down menu, select System Settings. This will open the System Settings window on your Mac.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. In the System Settings window, click General in the left sidebar.
  2. Look for Software Update in the right pane and click it.
click general and select software update
  1. It will open the Software Update settings. Here, you’ll see information about the current macOS version installed on your Mac and any available updates.
  2. If an update is available, you’ll see an option to download and install it.
  3. Click the Update Now button to start the download process.
      click the update now button
      1. Once the download is complete, the macOS installer will automatically launch and fix the Clipboard not working on Mac.

      3. Try a Different Program

      If the Clipboard is not working in a specific program, try copying and pasting the content into a different program to see if the issue is program-specific. If the Clipboard works in other programs, the problem may be with the program itself.

      4. Clear Memory Using MacKeeper

      Cleaning up your Mac’s memory may not directly fix the clipboard not working issue, as the clipboard functionality is primarily related to the operating system and clipboard manager software.

      However, performing a memory cleanup can indirectly improve system performance, which might help resolve any underlying issues causing clipboard problems.

        With MacKeeper’s Memory Cleaner, you can free up memory without restarting your Mac. Just follow these steps, and you’ll have a faster, smoother Mac experience:

        1. Download MacKeeper and install it on your Mac.
        2. Open Mackeeper and click Memory Cleaner in the left sidebar.
        select memory cleaner under performance 6
        1. Click Open to start the Memory Cleaner.
        click open in the memory cleaner 6
        1. You can see the occupied and available memory on your Mac. Tap the Clean Memory button to free up available memory.
        click clean memory 6
        1. Once the memory cleaning cycle is complete, it will free up available memory and you’ll see how many GBs it cleaned in the last cleanup.
        memory cleaned after a cycle 4

        What Else Can MacKeeper Do?

        Besides freeing up the RAM on your Mac, MacKeeper can remove junk files on Mac, delete duplicate files, and run a virus scan on your Mac. Check out my detailed MacKeeper review to know more about its features.

        6. Use Activity Monitor to Force Quit Unresponsive Apps

        Running multiple applications simultaneously or having resource-intensive apps active in the background can consume significant memory. This can potentially impact the clipboard’s functionality.

        Quitting unnecessary applications or processes can free up memory and system resources, allowing the clipboard to work more efficiently. Here’s how to use the Activity Monitor to force quit apps on Mac:

        1. Open the Activity Monitor by navigating to Finder Applications Utilities Activity Monitor.
        launch activity monitor from utilities 1
        1. Click the Memory tab to see the current memory usage by all running applications.
        click memory in the top menu 2
        1. The processes are sorted by their memory usage by default. If not, sort the list by clicking the Memory column to see which applications use the most memory.
        click memory to sort by memory usage 1
        1. If you see an application using a lot of memory, you can force quit it by selecting it and clicking the X button in the top-left corner.
        click a process and tap the small x to close it 1

        Wrap Up

        You must clear your clipboard history regularly and set a limited number of items in it. Here are some best practices you can follow to manage your Clipboard history effectively: 

        Frequently Asked Questions

        1. What is Clipboard history on Mac?

          Clipboard history on Mac is a feature that allows you to access previously copied or cut items. This feature is handy when you need to copy and paste multiple items repeatedly, saving you time and effort. 

        2. Can I access Clipboard history on other Apple devices? 

          You cannot access Clipboard history on other Apple devices. However, you can use Universal Clipboard to copy and paste items between your devices if you have multiple Apple devices. To use Universal Clipboard, ensure your devices are signed in to the same iCloud account and have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled. 

        3. Is there a way to recover items deleted from the Clipboard history? 

          No, you cannot recover items deleted from the Clipboard history on Mac. Double-check the thing before deleting it to avoid accidentally deleting something important. 

        4. Can I customize the keyboard shortcuts for Clipboard history? 

          Yes, you can customize the Keyboard Shortcuts for Clipboard history by following the steps outlined in this article. To customize the Keyboard Shortcuts, click the Apple icon on your Mac, select System Settings, then click Keyboard and select the Shortcuts tab. From there, you can customize the Keyboard Shortcuts for Clipboard history.

        Emman Zahid


        Emman is a MacBook and Apple enthusiast with a strong foundation in Computer Science. Her passion for Apple products started during her college years when he got her first MacBook. Over the years, he has built profound expertise in the Apple ecosystem, which he has eloquently shared through writings featured in tech publications such as Laptop251, NotJustLaptops, and TechanZone. Furthermore, marketing giants like OptinMonster, TrustPulse, and WPRocket have leveraged her insights. Emman's strength lies in simplifying complex technical details into understandable information for both tech experts and novices. He currently contributes to the MacBook Journal, ensuring her pieces are accurate, detailed, and engaging. Outside of writing, Emman continues to explore Apple's innovations, always eager to discover and share new insights with fellow Apple enthusiasts.



        Hi there! I'm Ojash, a tech journalist with over a decade of experience in the industry. I've had the privilege of contributing to some of the world's largest tech publications, making my mark as a respected Mac expert. My passion lies in exploring, using, and writing about MacBooks, and I enjoy sharing my expertise to help others make informed decisions and get the most out of their MacBook experience. Join me as we delve into the fascinating world of MacBooks together!

        You May Also Like