Bypass Your iPhone’s Clipboard Restrictions to See Your Entire Clipboard History and Copy Everything Again « iOS & iPhone :: Gadget Hacks



Your iPhone’s clipboard can only store one item at a time, so it may seem impossible to retrieve your entire history of copied text, images, and other content. Fortunately, there is a workaround you can use to find and copy the contents of your earlier clipboard, but you’ll need to implement it first.

While there’s no built-in way to view more than one item on your iPhone’s clipboard, you can record and retrieve anything you copy from here. That way you have everything to hand in case you need to recopy something important.

There are third party apps like Clipboard, Clipboard++, Clipboard – Paste anywhere, Copypaste keyboard, Paste – Clipboard managerand Paste keyboard that will record what you copy to your clipboard. Still, they are not a perfect solution.

Why you should avoid third party clipboard apps

First, most third-party clipboard apps require a companion keyboard to locate and select the contents of your clipboard history. That’s pretty inconvenient and even confusing, especially if they don’t provide a regular keyboard.

Second, you need to open the app or keyboard after every time you copy content to your clipboard. If you don’t, it can only record the last known contents of your clipboard – not everything since the last time you opened the app or keyboard.

Third, since then iOS 16, all of these apps must request permission to paste the current contents of your clipboard from other apps into their app. This can get annoying quickly, but some more up-to-date apps will show a “Paste from other apps” menu (on iOS 16.1 and above) in the Settings app where you can always give permission without any security questions.

Fourth, you may accidentally let one of these clipboard apps record sensitive information such as passwords. You can have password manager apps like LastPass automatically clear your clipboard after about 30 seconds when copying a password, but not all apps can do that. Can you really trust the developers of these clipboard apps?

A better solution: a custom shortcut

You could build your own shortcut in the Shortcuts app to save the current clipboard item in different ways. Each clipboard item can be saved in a separate note or file, named with the current date and time. Or you can add each item to the same note or file, with dates and times assigned to each item.

However you build your shortcut, you can assign it to Tap back. That way you tap the back of your iPhone two or three times right after when you want to save something you just copied. After a while you even forget you’re doing it.

With your own shortcut, you don’t have to use a funky keyboard or open another app when you copy something, you can save the clipboard history locally on your iPhone or in iCloud, and you have full control over what gets saved.

Step 1: Download the shortcut

To save you some time, I’ve created a simple shortcut for you to install. Crane the shortcutand select “Set Shortcut” when the preview opens in Shortcuts to begin configuring your preferences.

Step 2: Choose a storage method

Now choose which method you want to use to save your clipboard history; Remove the others from the list and click the “Next” button.

Text and media are saved when you select the Notes app. Only text is saved if you choose the Files app, and all media is included as their filenames.

If you want to save media to Files, feel free to play around with the shortcut’s workflow to save it as specific file types depending on what’s on the clipboard. I tried to keep this shortcut slimmed down to keep it simple.

Method 1: Separate notes

If you choose “Individual Notes,” select a folder in the Notes app where you want to save each note. It will be saved in your default “Notes” folder if you don’t choose anything. Press “Next” until you reach the final configuration page, then click “Add Shortcut” or “Done” to save the shortcut to your library.

To test it out, go to the “Shortcuts” tab, then tap the new “Save Clipboard History” shortcut.

The first time you save text, images or other media you will be prompted to give the shortcut save privileges – select “Always allow”. You only need to do this once per media type, so if you allow this for text, the prompt won’t reappear if there’s text in the clipboard.

Once the shortcut runs, it will open directly to the new note in the Notes app. If you don’t want this to happen, go to the shortcut editor, hit the arrow next to the folder name you chose under the “Individual Notes” if statement, then uncheck “Open on Run.”

Method 2: 1 comment

If you choose “1 note,” select a note in the Notes app where you want to save each clipboard item. If you don’t choose anything, you’ll be prompted to select a note each time you run the shortcut. Press “Next” until you reach the final configuration page, then click “Add Shortcut” or “Done” to save the shortcut to your library.

To test it out, go to the “Shortcuts” tab, then tap the new “Save Clipboard History” shortcut.

The first time you save text, images or other media you will be prompted to give the shortcut save privileges – select “Always allow”. You only need to do this once per media type, so if you allow this for text, the prompt won’t reappear if there’s text in the clipboard.

Each time the shortcut runs, you will be notified that it has completed its work. Whatever was on the clipboard will be saved to the note you chose. You can view the note at any time in the Notes app. Each entry displays the month, day, and year first, followed by the time in hours, minutes, and seconds.

Method 3: Separate files

If you choose “Individual files,” select a folder in the Files app where you want to save each file. It will be saved in your default “Shortcuts” folder if you don’t choose anything. Press “Next” until you reach the final configuration page, then click “Add Shortcut” or “Done” to save the shortcut to your library.

To test it out, go to the “Shortcuts” tab, then tap the new “Save Clipboard History” shortcut.

The first time you save text, images or other media you will be prompted to give the shortcut save privileges – select “Always allow”. You only need to do this once per media type, so if you allow this for text, the prompt won’t reappear if there’s text in the clipboard. Note, however, that content such as photos will be displayed as their file name, for example IMG9403.PNG.

Each time the shortcut runs, you will be notified that it has completed its work. Whatever was on the clipboard will be saved as a new note in your chosen folder. Each file is named with the month, day, and year, followed by the time in hours, minutes, and seconds.

Method 4: 1 file

If you choose “1 file,” select a folder in the Files app where you want to save the clipboardhistory.txt file. You can rename this .txt file in the shortcut editor if necessary. It will be saved in your default “Shortcuts” folder if you don’t choose anything. Hit “Add Shortcut” or “Done” to save the shortcut to your library.

To test it out, go to the “Shortcuts” tab, then tap the new “Save Clipboard History” shortcut.

The first time you save text, images or other media you will be prompted to give the shortcut save privileges – select “Always allow”. You only need to do this once per media type, so if you allow this for text, the prompt won’t reappear if there’s text in the clipboard. Note, however, that content such as photos will be displayed as their file name, for example IMG9403.PNG.

Each time the shortcut runs, you will be notified that it has completed its work. Whatever was on the clipboard will be saved to the note you chose. If you have not selected a specific file, it may not work. Each entry displays the month, day, and year first, followed by the time in hours, minutes, and seconds.

Step 3: Assign the shortcut to a tap back gesture

Tap back is a iOS accessibility feature which lets you quickly tap the Apple logo on the back of your iPhone two or three times to perform an assigned action. In our case, it would run the shortcut. Go to Settings -> Accessibility -> Touch -> Back tap, then select “Double tap” or “Triple tap”. Scroll down to the Shortcuts section and choose “Save Clipboard History.”

From now on, every time you tap the back of your iPhone two or three times, the shortcut should run. You can do this right after you copy something to your clipboard. If it’s sensitive information that you don’t want to record anywhere, you simply can’t use the Back Tap gesture.

If you use Universal Clipboard to view the contents of your Mac or iPad’s clipboard, you can use the Tap Back gesture after your iPhone has synced. It should still work.




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Cover photo and screenshots by Justin Meyers/Gadget Hacks

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