Universal clipboard: how to copy and paste text and files between your phone and laptop

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While juggling our phone and computer, we copy and paste countless chunks of text and files. But what if you want to copy something you have on one device and retrieve it on another? Fortunately, the answer is not to email it to you.

You can easily sync your computer and phone clipboard with third-party apps or built-in tools. This means that when you copy, say, text to your iPhone, you can instantly drop it into a text box on your Mac or Windows PC. Here’s how to set up a universal clipboard on your computer and phone.

iPhone, iPad and Mac

Universal Clipboard for Mac and iPhone is just a check mark away. Apple offers plenty of continuity features to always keep your phone and computer in sync, one of which lets you seamlessly copy and paste between them. Since this is built into your Apple devices, it almost works as if your devices share a common clipboard directory.

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To enable Universal Clipboard on iOS and macOS, first make sure you’re signed in from the same Apple account on both of your devices. For this to work, your iPhone and Mac will need to be close to each other with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi turned on.

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Then, on your Mac, go to System Preferences> General and enable the option “Allow transfer between this Mac and your iCloud devices”. On your iPhone or iPad, go to Settings> General> Airplay & Handoff and turn on “Handoff”.

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Now all you need to do is copy any text, image, or other content as you normally would on one device, and within seconds the data will be automatically added to the other’s clipboard. The copied item will stay on the clipboard of all your Apple devices (with Handoff enabled) for a minute or two, or until you replace it with something else.

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The built-in universal clipboard on your Mac and iPhone is somewhat limited. You cannot search for your last copied clips, or sync more than one item at a time. So, if you are actively planning to copy and paste between your computer and your phone, consider trying a third-party app that is simply called “Paste”. It allows you to save your shared clipboard history and costs $ 2 per month.

iPhone, Android and Mac

Owners of Android phones and Macs shouldn’t feel left out, either. While you may not be able to replicate the same consistent experience of Apple’s native Universal Clipboard, there are third-party apps that allow you to share clipboard entries on Android and macOS. We recommend an app called Clip Paste.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Since external apps can’t constantly keep track of your clipboard activities, ClipPaste takes a little extra effort to function and doesn’t integrate directly into copy-paste buttons by default like Apple Handoff.

In the case of ClipPaste, once you have copied an item, you must first always open the app on your current device to sync it. Once the app saves your copied content, it sends an alert to your second connected device, and from the notification, you can copy and paste it there.

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Setting up ClipPaste is simple: install the app on your Mac, Android or iPhone and create a new account. Once connected, you are ready to share your clipboard data across multiple devices.

Copy any text or image and launch the ClipPaste app. Tap or click the notification on your secondary device, select the copied item to add it to the clipboard, and paste anywhere you like with your standard options.

Android and Windows

Similar to Apple Handoff, you can sync the clipboards of your Android PC and Windows 10 or 11 directly from the latter’s settings.

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To get started, download the (owned by Microsoft) Swiftkey keyboard app on your phone. Open it and grant it the necessary permissions. Once inside, head to Rich Input> Clipboard. Activate the “Synchronize clipboard history” toggle. You will be prompted to sign in with a Microsoft profile. Make sure to authenticate with the same account that you set up on your computer.

On your Windows PC, go to Settings> System> Clipboard. Activate the options “Clipboard history” and “Synchronize on all devices”.

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To transfer clips from your Android phone to PC, you will need to open the Swiftkey app after copying the text, and it will soon be available from the “Ctrl + V” paste shortcut on your computer.

To send copied items from PC to Android, copy the content as you normally would and then retrieve it from the “Clipboard” menu of the Swiftkey app on your phone.

However, note that we were unable to test this at the time of writing because the Swiftkey app kept throwing a sync error. Hope the issue is resolved by the time you read this.

Android, iOS and Google Chrome

Another way to sync your phone and computer clipboard is to OnePlus clamp. It works the same as the other cross-platform clipboard managers we’ve talked about so far, but instead of a desktop app, it’s only accessible as a Chrome extension on PC and Mac.

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Once you have downloaded Clipt to your phone and the Chromium browser of your choice, copy any text or image and open the associated app. Clipt will save the last item you entered and add it to the shared clipboard. On your other device, visit Clipt and copy it again to paste it.

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Clipt is available for free for Android, iOS, and Google Chrome.

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