This wonderful clipboard manager checks off all the boxes when it comes to having a super useful app full of features that functions well without any hiccups. It's hard to find anything I don't like about PastePal, trust me I tried. I am super excited about how it has allowed me to create a nice workflow that makes my life easier.
- Ease of use
PastePal is an all-star clipboard manager in a sea of mediocrity.
In 2015, I was introduced to a couple of macOS utility apps that helped me to manage my clipboard. They were the first apps to do this, and for the longest time, they were the only two clipboard managers in the App Store. Now, one of them is no longer available, and the other has changed its licensing to a subscription-based model. Because I detest subscriptions, I decided to search for a new option.
One night I spent about 5 hours researching options that were available in the App Store. What I found was a multitude of clipboard utilities that were not being updated regularly (some not in years), had sub-par user interfaces, were lacking features, and/or missing the mobile companion app options. I felt as though I would never find an app that was functional, had a great design, a rich feature set, and mobile counterparts.
During my research, I installed nearly a dozen apps and was about to settle for an open-source app called Maccy. It seems like a decent app, but it didn’t quite check off all my requirement boxes. In addition, the UI design wasn’t where I wanted it to be – it just wasn’t as clean and refined as I wanted – and there were no mobile companion apps.
Just as I was about to close the App Store, PastePal called out to me from the dashboard window.
Overview — A Little Bit about PastePal and its Developer
PastePal is a lightweight clipboard manager designed for use with macOS, iOS, and iPadOS. The app allows users to save, search, and organize their clipboard history by app, smart item type, and even collections. In addition, PastePal works with iCloud sync to enable secure sharing across users’ devices.
PastePal does not require a subscription to have full access to its features. Instead, users buy it once and can use it forever. In fact, PastePal is also a universal purchase meaning that one license provides you with premium access to macOS, iOS, and iPadOS versions on the respective devices.
PastePal was created by an independent developer, Khoa Pham, who is based in Oslo, Norway. Pham has been developing iOS, Windows Phone, and Android apps for nearly 10 years. For many years, Pham has worked on open source projects making Swift frameworks and various tools, but his main development focus is PastePal and Almighty at this time.
PastePal was featured as an Apple App of the Day in the App Store earlier this year, and it was also featured on Product Hunt. In addition, the app has been localized into over 20 languages, including English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Polish, Chinese, Russian, Korean, Kurdish, Portuguese, Hungarian, Japanese, and Norwegian.
A feature-rich app
PastePal is a robust utility with tons of features built-in. There are many layers to it and lots of customization that can be done with it. It’s so much more than just a clipboard manager.
Omniscient Main View
This main window includes the option to view all your copied history items as well as all the preferences of the app. It appears as a standard application window and can be closed when it’s done being used without quitting the utility. With the Main View window, users can:
- Organize and Filter their history items using an adaptive grid; quick grouping by source applications, recognized content type, or a custom filter; and, search using the search field in the bottom toolbar.
- Choose between light and dark mode themes.
- Fine tune their history using quick toggle to pause and resume pasteboard observation. Users can also control how long their data is kept.
- Specify which apps to ignore or allow for copying into the pasteboard.
- Manage privacy settings and determine whether or not to save passwords and sensitive data.
- Customize keyboard shortcuts for many of PastePal’s functions including toggling the flexible bar.
Flexible History Bar
This tool allows you to access your most recent history quickly and easily. The bar can be positioned anywhere on the screen (top, left, bottom, or right edge) and set up to be visible with a keyboard shortcut. The History Bar provides a lot of the functionality of PastePal that users see, including:
- Content Preview with Context Menu: View raw copied material and customize it using the convenient popover menu that appears with a right-click function. The context menu allows users to modify content, choose how it is viewed, share it, delete it, add it to a collection/favorites, paste as rich or plain text, or use any of the other powerful tools available.
- Smart Detection: Identifies copied items and its source application when it stores it in the history bar.
- Add Additional Files: Using drag-and-drop functionality, users can add one or more files to newly captured screenshots in the history bar.
- Information Inspector: At a glance, users know the content type, original application, capture date, and how many characters (if text) of each history item.
- Paste Stack: Create a temporary stack of history items, organize, and paste all at once.
- Peer Share: Allows users with PastePal on the same network to share history items – without the use of Handoff or iCloud Sync.
As mentioned above, PastePal can recognize common content types and record them along with the history item into the history bar. This information makes it possible to group items for easy access. The common content types that are currently identified by the app are:
- Text: Previews as plain text. Number of characters and lines are shown for recognized text strings.
- Rich Text: Previews as Rich Text.
- Hex Color: Previews as color with hex color value included (#AABBCC)
- Emoji: Previews as emoji in full scale.
- Link: Shows primary thumbnail and page title of a link.
- Image: Previews as image.
- PDF: Previews as interactive PDF.
- File: Shows file path and size of copied file. Previews as a Quick Look.
- Multiple Files: Shows multiple paths and previews as a Quick Look.
iPhone and iPad Apps
PastePal is a universal app. That means that one license gets users to access three versions of the app – on Mac, on iPhone, and on iPad. All of these apps sync together using iCloud. It’s fast. It’s secure. It’s convenient. While the functions are the same (copy and save in a large clipboard history board), some of the features are different in the mobile version of the app. As of publishing this article, these are the features included with the iOS version of PastePal.
- Widget: PastePal has two widgets available – copy and clear. Copy allows users to save items to the clipboard and clear will clear the system clipboard.
- Theme Styles: Just like the macOS version, PastePal for iOS includes light and dark modes as well as additional highlight colors to select from.
- Smart Content: Content is automatically recognized the same as it is on the macOS version, but only certain types are currently available for iOS. Text, links, emojis, and hex colors are currently supported with additional types coming soon.
- Sharing Extension: Users can share any text or action using the sharing function within iOS.
- Quick Action: Long press on the PastePal icon in Home screen to access Quick Actions
- Siri Shortcut: Siri suggestions are supported so you can add items to PastePal.
- iCloud Sync: By default, sync is disabled but iCloud Sync can be enabled in Settings.
The iPad app features the same type of experience users get with the macOS version of PastePal, but there are a few subtle changes.
- Context menu: Force touch on any history item to access powerful context menu. Copy, delete, add to collection, share, and more.
- Any screen orientation: Adaptive layout for both landscape and portrait mode.
- Dark mode: Gorgeous light and dark mode themes.
There are dozens of demos included on PastePal’s website that showcase many of the features of PastePal. They are short, simple walkthroughs of how to access the features and what they look like. This is a great benefit to potential users who want to get a tour of the app before purchasing it. The developer makes frequent updates to this list.
After completing my initial assessment of PastePal, it checked off all the boxes I was looking for in a clipboard manager. However, before I took the plunge and installed the app, I decided to reach out to the developer directly to ask some questions about how data was being handled within PastePal. I also wanted to know what kind of lifespan PastePal might have.
As I mentioned, one of the original clipboard manager apps is no longer available. I didn’t want to fall in love with an app just to have it discontinued or no longer supported/maintained in a year’s time. (Cough, cough. Apple, you should get on this and remove apps that their developers are no longer supporting.)
I reached out to Khoa Phan (PastePal’s developer) through Twitter, and I was surprised to get a response from him in about 10 minutes from when I sent my message. He was very easy to talk to and very responsive. As I’ve been working on this review, I’ve reached out to him a few times, and he’s always been available to answer questions and provide additional information about the app.
Phan did confirm that the app does not collect any personal data or retain any of the information copied into the saved history items. He said that data was saved securely in the SQLite database and synced across devices via iCloud sync, which means your data stays local to your device and is never sent anywhere.
With that, I installed the app. There is a one-time charge of $14.99 to unlock the premium features of PastePal. You can download the app from the App Store without purchasing it, but you only get to preview the app. It’s not really a free trial because it’s not a fully functioning demonstration of what the app can do.
Without paying for premium, you can see the app’s interface and navigate through all the settings, but you can’t select items from the History Bar to paste into other places. You can view items you’ve copied, but when you try to select them for copying, a pop-up window appears that shows the premium features that get unlocked with the in-app purchase.
When you download the app from the App Store, you will see several introductory screens before you get to the Main View window. These screens show off some of the features of the app. To navigate through the screens, you will click a forward or back arrow at the bottom of the window. On the last screen, the forward arrow changes to an airplane. This does not put your computer into airplane mode. It simply means you’re ready to take off and get started with the app.
At this point, the app’s icon appears in the menu bar of your Mac. When you click on it, the History Bar appears from the right side of your screen. This is the default placement for the bar, but it can be moved to any other side of your screen. In order to access the preferences of the app, you will want to open the Main Window. This can be done by clicking on the gear icon in the bottom right corner of the History Bar or by clicking on the Main Window icon that is also in the bottom right corner of the History Bar.
Upon set up, PastePal is already observing your clipboard, and when you copy items, they will be saved to your History Bar. The saved copy history is only the basic function of PastePal. The advanced features are really why you want this app.
Advanced Features in Daily Use
One of the features I like about PastePal is that it’s there when you need it but hidden when you don’t. It’s always capturing items for you in the background, and when you suddenly realize that you needed something from the day before, you can search for it, and BAM! PastePal has the information you are looking for.
My fiancé was a user of one of the other clipboard managers, and when it was longer being supported, she definitely felt its absence. A clipboard manager is one of those utility apps that you always use, but you don’t really know how much until it’s no longer available.
Having also been a previous user of one of PastePal’s competitors, I wasn’t sure how I was going to acclimate to a new app. However, I was shocked at just how many of the advanced features I could put to immediate use. Within just a few minutes of using PastePal, I felt like I had not only found a replacement for the previous clipboard manager but had also been given a major upgrade.
One of the amazing features – and now my personal favorite – inside of PastePal is called Paste Stack. This feature is a temporary collection of copied elements. When a user activates this option, all the items you copy will go into the stack rather than the standard History Bar until you close Paste Stack. Then, once you have all the items organized the way you want, you can paste them into your designated location.
I use this daily now when I post our reviews from Mac Sources to our different social media accounts. First, I set my Paste Stack shortcut to Shift + CMD + M. From here, anything I copy goes into this stack, and it can be rearranged depending on how you need it and then pasted directly from the stack.
For example, when I post to Instagram, I need the title of the article, the URL, and the hashtags we have set for the post. I could just use the shortcut key I have set for the History Bar (Shift + Command + X) and copy and paste each element individually but Paste Stack allows me to copy the three items I need together and paste them in one click. It’s freaking magic! I honestly don’t know how I ever lived without this feature. It’s such a time saver for me.
Another one of the advanced features that is unique to PastePal is the Peer Sharing option. The concept behind this feature is that when multiple PastePal users are on the same network, they can connect and share items from their History Bar. This comes in handy for my fiancé and me because we share things constantly.
We did use the feature successfully and found it to be a fairly easy process. The first step is to open the History Bar, and then on your selected item, right-click to pull up the Context Menu. From here, select Peer Share. A new window will open with your selected item in the preview area. If there are other users on your network, they will appear just below the preview. You can click on the user, and once a green status light appears, you can click send to share the item with them.
When we did this, it worked very quickly. My fiancé sent me some text, which immediately appeared in my History Bar. While the Peer Sharing function worked, it was a little buggy. It worked, and then it didn’t work the second time we tried to send something. My fiancé said that my computer kept disappearing from her screen. We both restarted the app, and then we were able to use Peer Share again. We also discovered that in order to remain discoverable to other users, the Peer Share window has to stay open. It’s a cool feature but not worth keeping the window open all the time. I hope a new way to implement this comes soon.
Two of the newer features that I think are worth mentioning include the Redact option and the ability to auto paste in plain text rather than rich text. The Redact option is fantastic because it hides the content of the History items to the viewer. So if you need send technical issues to the developer, you can redact the information before sending it to him. This is just another great privacy setting he has built into the app. The auto paste as plain text provides users with the option to remove unnecessary rich text data from a History item.
One of the other aspects of PastePal that I truly appreciate is how the developer provided a preference for ignoring certain data when it saves items to the History Bar. Users have the option to ignore confidential and sensitive data, transient data, auto-generated content, specific applications, files from certain folders, and, my personal favorite, content containing specific words. The ability to ignore content based on certain words is a beautiful feature because if you use a certain word or phrase within your passwords, you can put that in to be ignored, so it’s not data that is saved by PastePal. This set of preferences is just one more way that users can take steps to protect their data.
Another element that I really appreciate about PastePal isn’t a feature. It’s the fact that the developer is constantly refining and adding features to the app. He releases regular updates to fix bugs, but he also adds new features based on user feedback. For example, when a user complained about PastePal not working in Japanese, the developer immediately hired a translator to create a Japanese language option so that it could be included in the next release.
He told me that the reason he started PastePal was that he saw a problem and knew that he could not only fix it but that he could do it better. I believe he has.
Some of the improvements that are coming to future releases are:
- an improved keyboard extension – will make the UI more intuitive, allow search, transformation for selected text, and different font options
- allowing for Paste Stack in the Context Menu
PastePal is a remarkable app that has actually renewed my interest in looking at apps. If you are looking for a clipboard manager for macOS that has mobile companion apps, PastePal should be on your list to try. There are only a few apps available that function well, and none of them are in the same league as PastePal. It has an outstanding UI and brilliant features – not to mention a very attentive developer who listens to his users. I can recommend PastePal wholeheartedly to anyone looking to step up their clipboard manager to the next level.
Do you want to use the premium features of PastePal for free? The developer was kind enough to provide us with a few promo codes for the app, and you can enter to win one of them! Follow @macsrcs on Twitter and quote our tweet of this review with your favorite feature for your chance to win one of three promo codes for PastePal.