ClipCube: Young And Easy Freeware Clipboard Utility

ClipCube, until very recently known as Clipbox, is a small and minimalist clipboard utility that keeps an unlimited (?), until recently up to 2000, number of clipboard items for future use. The program runs in the system tray. ClipCube lets the user decide how long it keeps clipboards on file, this is set by right clicking the program icon and choosing the Keep Items entry. The available options are keeping the item(s) until the program is exited to keeping them indefinitely. The program window or interface has settings for pinning or keeping it on top and also choosing to show a full preview of a selected clipboard item or not (by toggling the eye icon on or off). One other option is showing a time stamp beside each clipboard item, this lets a user know when the clipboard was captured.

ClipCube also supports hotkeys (see http://clipcube.wikispaces.com/Changelogs for a full list of hotkeys as they are added to each version) that ease program usage such as Enter+Ctrl+C to copy a selected clipboard item and Ctrl+Numpad[1-9]  to choose the first to ninth entry in the listed clipboard history. The latter did not work in my test of the current version (0.2.2) and additionally brings up the question of how one may be able to choose the 10th, 11th or higher numbered items in the clipboard history list.

ClipCube is GPL licensed software and does not require installation. This program is in development and the interface and options have also changed recently so this review may be outdated in some respects by the time you read it.

ClipboardFusion: Free Alternative Clipboard Manager

ClipboardFusion is a freeware clipboard utility. I think good and easy ways of managing text copied to the Windows clipboard often leads to a better Windows experience and ClipboardFusion does its part.

Text Scrubbing is the main feature of the program. In the program’s settings (accessed by right clicking its tray icon) one can set all copies to be ‘scrubbed’ or only those which are copied by clicking the native Windows Ctrl+C twice. Some of the things scrubbing can do is to remove or strip any white space from the beginning of the copied text or remove all HTML code from the copied text. The Text Replace feature automatically replaces character(s) with others in any copied text. For example one can replace all instances of double quotes (“) with single quotes (‘). ClipboardFusion gives the user the option to use hotkeys to enable or disable its features, for example to temporarily disable any text replace rules one can assign a combination of keys to toggle it on or off.

A more advanced feature is Macros, one can write and test one’s own in the included C# or Visual Basic editor and also assign hotkeys to them. A selection of pre-written macros are also available for download from within the program, these include ‘Convert Text to Upper Case’ and ‘Search For Copied Text using Google.com’ just to name two.

Another feature concerns colors and images. Copying a HTML color hex value (say #FFFFFF for white) will trigger a small popup in the far right of the system tray with a preview of the color and also its RGB value ((255,255,255) for white). The same applies if an image is copied, in this case a small preview of the image will be shown. One can also set ClipboardFusion to ignore certain programs, when this is done text copied within those specified programs is not operated upon by ClipboardFusion.

The author also offers, for $24/year, the ClipboardFusion online or ‘on the cloud’ version for sharing clipboards and macros across computers and the ability to pin a clipboard item for repeated use. ClipboardFusion runs on all post 2000 versions of Windows and requires .NET Framework v2.0.

Trix: Freeware Efficiency And Productivity Utility For Windows

Trix is a lightweight and no-install program that acts much like other hotkey managers. It makes certain task easier and faster. Trix assigns, and lets the user choose, combination of hotkeys for some typical and often-used PC tasks. Combinations of Ctrl, Shift, Win and other letters or keys are assigned to and are configurable for the following tasks:

  • Export copied text to (default) email client, Word, Excel or Notepad. The copied text is automatically inserted into the applications.
  • Open Files, folders, websites or the terminal. In this case it is probably easier to do it the old fashioned way especially since trying to open multiple items at the same time is seemingly not possible.
  • Unzip and zip chosen or highlighted files.
  • Show brief computer specs, quote of the day, a timestamp with the current date and more, or stats on any highlighted text such as the number of characters. All these are shown in tooltip style.
  • Access power management tools such as hibernation, rebooting, or locking the computer.
  • Generate passwords. Encrypt and decrypt copied text. In the latter Trix will prompt for a passkey and allow the encryption level to be chosen and then asks what to do with the encrypted text (copy encrypted text to the clipboard for example).
  • Speak the highlighted text.
  • Control system volume.
  • Convert units of measurement. This works on a highlighted number.
  • Calculate highlighted expression. Here if “44+44” is highlighted the tooltip will show “44+44=88”
  • Generate Lorem Ipsum text.
  • Translate highlighted text, either based on saved settings (one of the last items in Trix’s settings window) or by choosing languages on the fly.
  • Extract email, IP, links or file and folder paths from any copied text.
  • Transform text. Reverse case for example but perhaps most importantly strip formatting.
  • Adjust the focused window to fill the screen or maximize the focused window.
  • Open the system color picker.
  • Launch any one of web searches, from google to iconfinder and more.

The somewhat confusing nature of Trix is that some of the text tools seem to require a text highlight while in others the text needs to be copied. This along with the fact that to be really productive one must learn the assigned hotkeys makes Trix, or any other hotkey manager for that matter, useful for some and not for others.

OrangeNote: Freeware For Notes and Clipboard

OrangeNote is a clipboard and notes manager that will ease and extend the use of the Windows clipboard. OrangeNote provides an interface to keep the contents of each clipboard entry forever. Additionally one can enter notes or keep clipboards as notes that can be fully searched and optimized for easy retrieval later. Left clicking the tray icon of the program brings up a bar like interface to add notes and the ability to not only tag them but add titles to them too.

PhotoScape

A left click shows all the clipboard entries OrangeNote currently holds and all or more recent notes as well. In this area one can favorite or star a note. The Additional Commands option gives access to a number of options some of which are executed via a command line like a console or a terminal. This terminal allows changes to many program settings, looks and other properties. The Options themselves, a few of which are restricted to the Pro version of the program, control such things as program update checking, database maintenance and boosting the program’s process priority. The latter is worthy of an additional observation because the program can sometimes consume excessive, almost Firefox type, amounts of CPU and RAM (OrangeNote tested on a XP computer). This does not seem to coincide with any optimization or other background action the program is undertaking so it is a mystery as to why the program’s CPU and RAM usage varies so much over short periods of time. OrangeNote also has a number of (global) hotkeys such as Ctrl+Win+N to create a new note and others that can be accessed and modified via the Options menu or the aforementioned terminal.

The requirements are listed as “Microsoft Windows XP or Vista with .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 and 512 MB RAM” and one would presume Windows 7 as well. It should be noted that OrangeNote is WPF based program and that there is a Mac version available as well.

Signo: Freeware Hotkey Manager

Signo is described by its author as

…impressively complete hotkey manager…

Upon launch Signo slows the system (reviewed on a Windows XP computer) but then settles in the tray and provides a number of defaults hotkeys or what it calls actions to automate many tasks. Signo also provides the ability to add additional user defined actions. The hotkeys can alternatively be used and defined as the # key followed by a maximum of 10 letters, therefore it is possible to (for example) press Alt+Win+k to do an action or to set #awk to do the same.

The actions supported are Text, HTML, Open, Launch, MiniRAM, Windows, Grab and Auto. Text actions copy text into applications. It can be used to insert common snippets of text into focused applications without typing them every time. HTML is similar to text and also supports links and some other HTML elements.

Open and Launch are similar, both open files, websites or programs, but the latter supports DOS actions or command line parameters. In this case it is not really clear why they should be two separate categories.

Signo

MiniRAM optimizes RAM usage (see image) via user set priorities, a feature I did not attempt to use for this review as such tools are not always easy to manage.

Windows has a long list of pre-defined hotkeys with some applying to foreground windows and others to all open windows. These include quickly hiding a window (Ctrl+Win+H, toggle to hide and unhide foreground window) and sending it to the tray (Ctrl+Win+T). (Ctrl+Win+Up, down, left or right) snaps windows in the chosen position and (Ctrl+Win+S) makes the foreground window transparent are two of the other available actions.

Grab is screen capture tool, it can capture entire windows, specific areas and also provides options to choose where to send the resulting capture. A settings dialog box (to the right of eye (or execute) icon) lets the user change the target folder and other capture or grab settings.

Auto is somewhat more unique as it allows Signo to support abbreviations and to monitor typed words and correct their spelling. Abbreviations act as short forms so that one can type words faster. They are defined such that the desired entries are entered one per line with the abbreviated (or shortened) form being followed by a comma and the non-abbreviated (full) text. For the spelling feature Signo will look at user defined words (using the same format as abbreviations) and replaces misspelt ones with the correct version as defined in the ‘List of auto-corrections’.

Signo is powerful enough with its default set of tools and hotkeys but with user added entries it can be even more useful. It should run on all Windows from 2000 to Vista and requires the .NET framework 2.0 or later.