ClipTools: Clipboard Manager and More From MacMost

ClipTools is a status menu application that gives you access to a variety of simple clipboard utilities from the right side of the menu bar.

In addition to being able to access older clipboard contents, you can save clips, use powerful Smart Clips, paste the date or time in any format you wish, paste sample Lorem Ipsum text, type calculations and paste the result, or even calculate the result of a formula currently selected in text.

Download on the Mac App Store


A No-Nonsense Guide To How To Use ClipTools

ClipTools is a Menu Bar app that will appear on the right side of your Menu Bar as a little toolbox icon. Besides the Settings window, there is no other window and nothing will take up space in your Dock. Click the Menu Bar icon to access everything.

Many of the functions of ClipTools work at the position of the text cursor in a document or on selected text. So make sure you’ve got the text cursor where you want or have selected text in your document first. Then click the menu and choose the function.


Clips

The first section at the top of the ClipTools menu contains a recent history of things you have copied to your clipboard. The list continues in the submenu named More Clips. You can change how many total clips are stored, and how many appear before More Clips is needed, in the Settings.

To add an item to the list, just copy it as normal, usually with Edit, Copy or Command+C in apps you are using. Only plain text and rich text will be added to the list. Text that apps label as passwords won’t be added to the list.

To paste an item from the list, make sure you are actively entering text into an app and the text cursor is at the position you want. Then select the item in ClipTools menu.

Modifiers: Use Control to copy instead of paste, Option to add the item to the Saved Clips list, Shift+Control to paste as plain text, and Shift+Option to remove an item from the list. You can also use Control+Option to perform a Paste and also Remove the clip from the list.

Advanced: If you use Shift you can group paste. This will paste that clip and all clips above it at the same time. A separator is placed between each clip, set in the Settings. You can use \n for a new line or \t for a tab in this separator text. The items are used in reverse order from the menu. So if you copy this, that and other and then paste with the separator text -, you will get this-that-other.


Saved Clips

Once you save a clip, you’ll see a Saved Clips submenu appear with that clip. Saved clips will remain in the submenu until you remove them. You can paste a saved clip just like you can with regular clips.

Modifiers: Use Control to copy instead of paste, Shift+Control to paste as plain text, and Shift+Option to remove an item from the list. Use Shift to move an item to the first position in the submenu.


Paste Date, Paste Time

When you use Paste Date or Paste Time, the current time is pasted at the text cursor. The format for each of these is set in the Settings. The format matches Unicode date standards. You can use this document as a general reference.

The defaults are M/d/yy for date and yyyy-MM-dd HH:mm:ss for time. That results in values such as 9/19/2022 and 2022-09-19 09:00:00, respectively. Here are some more examples.

  • yyyy-MM-dd → 2022-05-31
  • M/d/yyyy → 5/31/2022
  • EEEE, MMMM d, yyyy → Tuesday, May 31, 2022
  • EEE, MMM d, yyyy → Mon, Oct 31, 2022
  • h:mm a → 3:59 PM
  • H:mm → 15:59

Advanced: You can include |+ or |- and a number at the end to add or subtract seconds. So M/d/yy|+86400 will paste the date for 24 hours in the future.

Modifiers: Use Control to copy instead of paste.


Lorem Ipsum

This will paste nonsense sample text of various lengths. The Classic Paragraph option uses the original Lorem Ipsum text but all other options will use random Lorem Ipsum text. Title will paste a short phrase with each word capitalized.

Modifiers: Use Control to copy instead of paste.


Smart Clips

Smart clips are clips you create manually instead of being imported from copied text. They can also use some very powerful special functions embedded in the text. For example, if you have the smart clip The quick {clip:1} fox. and the first copied clip is currently blue, then using the smart clip will paste The quick blue fox.

{clip:N} will paste the copied clip that is at the position N indicated by the number.

{date:M/d/yy} will paste the current date and time using the same formatting as the Paste Date and Paste Time commands. You can also use |+ and |- like in those commands.

{ask:Which name?} will prompt you with the text Which name? to enter text that will appear in place of that function.

{pick:this|that|other} will prompt you to choose between this, that or other and then that will appear in place of that function. This prompt will also let you type in any text in addition to choosing from the list.

{random:this|that|other} will randomly choose between this, that or other and then that will appear in place of that function.

{selection} will use the text currently selected at that point in the Smart Clip. If no text is selected it will use the contents of the clipboard instead.

Modifiers: Use Control to copy instead of paste, use Shift+Option to remove a smart clip, use Shift to move the Smart Clip to the first position in the submenu, use Option to edit a smart clip.


Calculations

Using Paste Calculation… will bring up a dialog box where you can type an equation like 1+1, (6+7)*5 or pow(7,3). The result will then be pasted into the selected position in text you are editing.

Symbols: + – * / and also % for mod. A can be placed before a number for negative values. You can use the functions: sqrt(x), floor(x), ceil(x), round(x), cos(x), acos(x), sin(x), asin(x), tan(x), atan(x), abs(x), pow(x,y), atan2(x,y), mod(x,y), max(x,y,…), min(x,y,…). The constant pi is recognized too.

After each calculation, the result will be added to the Previous Calculations submenu. You can select one there to paste the result again. The number of items stored in this history will match the Maximum Total Clips in the Settings.

In Settings, you can set Paste Formula With Calculation. If checked, the pasted text would be 1+1=2 instead of just 2.

Using Calculate Selection the currently selected text will be used instead of prompting for input. The result will replace the selected text. So you can select (9+23)*(3+2) and the result 160 will replace it. The Paste Formula With Calculation preference will be used here too. The result will also be added to the Previous Calculations submenu.

In addition, if you use Calculate Selection with nothing selected, the contents of the clipboard will be calculated and pasted. So you can select a formula, copy it, move the text cursor elsewhere, and then Calculate Selection to place the results there.

Modifiers: Use Control to copy instead of paste with either command or the Previous Calculations. Shift+Option can be used to remove an item from the history.


Number Stack

The number stack is a list of numerical values you can accumulate, recall, sort and perform actions on. You add a number to the stack by using Number Stack, Add Selection To Stack or Add To Stack… The first takes the number in the selection and adds it to the stack. It will also take several values from the selection if they are separated by spaces, commas or new lines. Add To Stack… will allow you to manually enter numbers to add to the stack.

Once you have at least one number in the stack, you’ll see more options appear under Number Stack. You can see a submenu that lists all the values and allows you to paste any one value, or all of the values together separated by commas, tabs or new lines. You’ll also see the count, sum, mean, median and mode for the stack and you can select one of those items to paste that value.

You can use Sort Stack to sort the stack in numerical order. Hold the Option key down to do a reverse sort.

Alter Stack… will let you enter a mathematical formula with the character x representing the numbers in the stack. Then each number in the stack will change to show the result. Examples are x+1 will add 1 to each number in the stack, x*2 will multiply each number in the stack by 2, (x+1)/2 will add one to each number and then divide that result by 2.


Selection Stats, Change Selection Case, Selection Actions

Select some text and use Selection Stats to get the number of characters, words and lines in a selection.

In Change Selection Case you can force the text to all upper case characters, all lower case characters, capitalize each word, capitalize each sentence, capitalize each line, use upper and lower case on alternate characters, or use upper and lower case randomly for each character. Upside Down will change letter characters to symbols that simulate the text being shown upside down, and also reverse the order of the characters.

The special Headline Case action will capitalize most words, except for words listed in ClipTools Settings. You can specify there that words such as the, and, a and of are lowercase, except when at the start of the selected text. You can also specify special cases like iMac, iPhone or macOS in that list. Customize the list in setting to fit the style guide you follow. Note that often words are capitalized or not depending on their use in the text. This feature does not handle those, but hopefully it will give you a place to start from even when you need to make some changes afterward.

Convert To Number Words will take a number like 1234 and convert it to words like “one thousand two hundred thirty-four.” Hold the Option key to also capitalize the result. If you use a value like 1234.56 the result will be “one thousand two hundred thirty-four and 56/100,” similar to the format used by many to write checks.

Remove Extra Spaces will look for places where more than one space character appears together, and convert those to a single space. Strip Tags will take HTML and XML code like <b>Hello!</b> and remove the tags. URL Encode will take text like “this & that” and convert it to “this%20%26%20that” as you may find in web URLs. URL Decode will do the opposite. Convert To HTML Entities will take “this & that” and convert it to “this &amp; that.” Convert From HTML Entities will do the opposite. Sort Lines will take a selection and sort it alphabetically by line. It will also handle numbers properly, to give the order 1, 3, 21 instead of 1, 21, 3.


MacMost Links

This section contains links to the MacMost.com homepage, the free weekly newsletter signup page, a submenu that lists the last 5 video tutorials posted at MacMost, and a link to the Patreon information page where you can support the app.


Settings

Maximum Total Clips: How many regular clips to store in the main menu and More Clips submenu total. When you exceed this number, the oldest clip will be removed when you add a new one.

Clips Shown In Main Menu: How many regular clips will appear at the top of the main menu. If this is set to 3, and the Maximum Total Clips is 10, then 3 clips will appear in the main menu, and 7 clips in the More Clips submenu.

Clear Clipboard Manager Data: These buttons will clear the regular clips and Saved Clips.

Group Paste Separator: When you perform a group paste, this text will be inserted in-between each clip. Use \n for a new line and \t for tab. You can put anything else here, including multiple new lines and tabs.

Paste Date Format: The format to be used for the Paste Date function. The format matches Unicode date standards. You can use this document as a general reference.

Paste Time Format: The same as Paste Date Format but for the Paste Time function. There is no real difference between these two functions except the name and default format.

Paste Formula With Calculation: If checked, then when you use Paste Calculation… or Calculate Selection the original selected text will be included, followed by an = character and the result. So if you type 1+1 the result will be 2 if unchecked, and 1+1=2 if checked.

Headline Case Exception Words: A comma-delimited list. Do not uses spaces. When using the Headline Case action, any words in this list will be treated as special cases. A word in this list that is all lower case will not be capitalized unless it is at the beginning. A word that is mixed case, like iMac, will always appear with exactly that case even if at the beginning. Customize this list to fit your style guide for headlines. Note that some style guides specify some words be capitalized or not depending on the grammatical context. The Headline Case action does not take this into account, but you could use Headline Case to start, and then manually change any words afterwards.

Global Keyboard Shortcuts: Click the first button to go into a mode where you can then type a keyboard shortcut. Be sure to use something not in use by other apps or the system. Suggestions are Command+Shift+C, Command+Shift+M or Command+\.

Use the Clear button to remove that shortcut. Then select the action to be performed by the shortcut. If you choose Activate Menu, then ClipTools menu will open and you can use the arrow keys and Return to select any function without needing to use the mouse or trackpad. Otherwise, if you choose a specific function it will trigger that function without opening the menu at all.

Launch At Login: Check this if you wish to have ClipTools automatically start up when you log in or restart.

OK/Cancel: Note that you must use the OK button for the changes to go into effect. If you use Cancel, then all settings will revert to the same values as when you opened the Settings window.


Using Keyboard Shortcuts

The keyboard shortcuts shown in the menu, such as Shift+Command+D for Paste Date and Command+Comma for Settings, only work when the menu is selected. ClipTools is a “status menu app” and this is how status menu apps work in macOS by design as regular keyboard shortcuts for the menu bar only work when the app is the current app, and ClipTools is only the current app when the menu is active.

To make ClipTools more useful from the keyboard, there are two Global Keyboard Shortcuts (Hot Keys) you can set in ClipTools Settings. These special shortcuts can be used even when ClipTools is not the current app. You can set one to Activate Menu which will open the ClipTools menu. Then you can use the shortcuts like Command+1, Shift+Command+D and so on.

So if you set the first Global Keyboard Shortcut to Shift+Command+C and set it to Activate Menu, then you can use: Shift+Command+C followed immediately by Shift+Command+D to paste the date.

There is also a second Global Keyboard Shortcut that you can assign directly to a command to perform it in one step. So if you find you often use Calculate Selection, you can set the second Global Keyboard Shortcut to Shift+Command+= and its action to Calculate Selection and then perform that command with a single keyboard shortcut.


Frequently Asked Questions

Check out this three-minute troubleshooting video that addresses some of the most common problems people have when getting started with ClipTools.

After installing ClipTools, how do I get it to appear in the Menu Bar? First, remember to launch the app after installing. You can do this using LaunchPad. If the ClipTools icon still doesn’t appear on the right side of the menu bar, check to make sure the right side of your Menu Bar isn’t already full.

When I try to use ClipTools to paste something, it says I need to grant permissions and takes me into System Settings. But I don’t see ClipTools listed. How do I add it? ClipTools should automatically appear in the list, but if it doesn’t, you can go to System Preferences, Privacy & Security, Accessibility, and then click the + button, then locate ClipTools in your Applications folder and add it.

Does ClipTools handle images? No, ClipTools only handles text and rich text. As dealing with images would be a whole new interface where you could view and choose images, plus a database for storing those images, I think ClipTools will just stick with text and text-based tools.

Can you sync clips from one Mac to another using iCloud? Not currently. I may add this in the future.

Will there be an iOS or iPadOS version of ClipTools? No. Because apps on those devices are sandboxed and there is no Menu Bar the best an iPhone or iPad app could do is to provide access to your clips if I also added iCloud storage for the Mac app. So I don’t think it would be worth it. You can already copy something on your Mac and then paste on the iPhone or iPad through the operating system.


Feedback & Support Questions

Before sending a message, please check out this three-minute troubleshooting video that answers some of the most common questions. If you need to contact MacMost about the ClipTools app, you can do so using this form.


Developer Notes

ClipTools uses the follow open source frameworks: Expression, HotKey, and LaunchAtLogin. The ClipTools privacy policy page is here.