Monday, April 1, 2013

Shapeshifter: A Clipboard Manager That You Can Use Without Changing Habits

I have changed clipboard managers only twice in the past. Previously, I used Ditto and now it’s ClipX, which has been with me for the last five years. When you use a software for that long, it becomes a part of your computing life. The keyboard shortcuts on ClipX became my second nature. They are so ingrained in my memory that sometimes I try to use them on someone else’s PC. It takes a few moments to realize why these shortcuts aren’t working.

This is always a problem when you grow too accustomed to keyboard shortcuts on a particular software. They become a habit and then when you have to work on another computer or use an alternative software, you keep hitting phantom keys.

Shapeshifter is a clipboard manager that feels natural to use. It uses the same shortcuts – Ctrl+C to copy and Ctrl+V to paste, but when you need to access past items copied to the clipboard, simply hold down on Ctrl+V and it will display a beautiful interface allowing you to easily look through your clipboard history, and select the item you need.

shapesifter

Whenever you copy something to the clipboard, Shapeshifter saves it for further. To paste the last copied item, simply press CTRL+V once. If you want to paste something you copied earlier, press and hold CTRL+V and you will see a list of all items you have copied. You can then use the arrow keys to get to your desired item or use the mouse to select it.

If you are more comfortable with the mouse and rarely use keyboard shortcuts, there is another way to use Shapeshifter – the “external mode” (the other is “integrated mode”). In external mode, for each item you copy to the clipboard, a dedicated Shapeshifter icon appears in the taskbar. When you hover the mouse over the icon, it reveals all copied items in aero-peek. Just select an item and click on it.

shapesifter2

Shapeshifter supports all kinds of data that the clipboard can keep - text, HTML, videos, files, pictures and even customized data between applications. Distinguishing between clipboard formats in the history is also easy, since every data-type has its own visual representation in the user interface. There is no hard limit on the number of items the clipboard can keep. Shapeshifter will automatically purge past items to prevent the program from using too much memory. There is an option to disable Shapeshifter’s automatic memory cleanup technology. But what happens if one does that is not known. Will Shapeshifter’s memory usage keep growing for ever? This issue has not been addressed.

There are a few problems with Shapeshifter – it doesn’t remember clipboard history if you restart the program. The slate is wiped clean. Also there is no search function.

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