The Clipboard

Modern, multitasking operating systems and graphical user interfaces allow you to transfer data between programs at the request of the user through a system facility called a clipboard. In general, clipboards can contain text, pictures, sound, formatted text, data in particular formats and more. However, not all programs know how to interpret all data formats.

Most of the time the user somehow selects the data to be placed on the clipboard. The data may then be copied to the clipboard, generally by selecting "Copy" from the Edit menu or by using the C shortcut key. Alternately data can be cut out of the running program and placed on the clipboard. Copied data remains in the original document while cut data is deleted from the original document. The data is then placed back into the same document or into a different document by pasting it from the clipboard. On most operating systems (though OpenWindows is a notable exception) pasting does not remove the data from the clipboard.

As well as the system clipboard many applications have private clipboards that are used for intra-application data transfer. The system clipboard is used for inter-application data transfer.

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Copyright 1997 Elliotte Rusty Harold
Last Modified April 20, 1997