Clipster is a simple clipboard manager, written in
Python (2 or 3). It aims to be lightweight, have a small set of non-core dependencies (
Gtk+), and is designed to interact well with tiling and keyboard-based window managers. It uses selection events, rather than polling, and offers both command-line and GUI interaction with the clipboard.
Clipster has 2 modes of operation -
daemon, which handles clipboard events and maintains a history, and
client, which requests clipboard history from, and pushes new items to, the daemon.
Clipster was designed to try to add a good selection of useful features, while avoiding bad design decisions or becoming excessively large. Its feature list includes:
Event driven, rather than polling. More efficient, helps with power management.
Control over when it write to disk, for similar reasons.
Command-line options/config for everything.
No global keybindings - that's the job of a Window Manager
Sensible handling of unusual clipboard events. Some apps (Chrome, Emacs) trigger a clipboard 'update event' for every character you select, rather than just one event when you stop selecting.
Preserves the last item in clipboard after an application closes. (Many apps clear the clipboard on exit).
Minimal dependencies, no complicated build/install requirements.
Proper handling of embedded newlines and control codes.
Smart matching of urls, emails, regexes. (
Option to synchronise the SELECTION and CLIPBOARD clipboards. (
Option to track one or both clipboards. (
Option to ignore clipboard updates from certain applications. (
Option to only monitor clipboard updates from certain applications. (
Ability to delete items in clipboard history from GUI or command-line. (
Ability to ignore selections based on a list of regex patterns. (
One-off command to ignore next clipboard selection. (
New feature requests always welcome! See
Bugs & Improvements at the end of this document.
NOTE: Clipster >= 2.x requires Gtk >=3.20 for its handling of click and drag selection events. This is the default on most modern OSes - however you may need to use a pre-2.x release if your OS doesn't support this version of Gtk.
You will need to install the python bindings for the gobject introspection libraries. These are provided by the
gir1.2-gtk-3.0 packages on debian-based systems, or by the
pygobject3 package on redhat-based systems.
To install Clipster, simply download the clipster script from this repository and save it somewhere in your path.
~$ clipster -h usage: clipster [-h] [-f CONFIG] [-l LOG_LEVEL] [-p | -c | -d] [-s | -o | -i | -r [DELETE] | --erase-entire-board] [-N POSITION] [-n NUMBER] [-S SEARCH] [-m DELIM] [-0] Clipster clipboard manager. optional arguments: -h, --help show this help message and exit -f CONFIG, --config CONFIG Path to config directory. -l LOG_LEVEL, --log_level LOG_LEVEL Set log level: DEBUG, INFO (default), WARNING, ERROR, CRITICAL -p, --primary Query, or write STDIN to, the PRIMARY clipboard. -c, --clipboard Query, or write STDIN to, the CLIPBOARD clipboard. -d, --daemon Launch the daemon. -s, --select Launch the clipboard history selection window. -o, --output Output selection from history. (See -n and -S). -i, --ignore Instruct daemon to ignore next update to clipboard. -r [DELETE], --delete [DELETE] Delete from clipboard. Deletes matching text, or if no argument given, deletes last item. --erase-entire-board Delete all items from the clipboard. -N POSITION, --position POSITION Return an entry from a specific indexed position. Defaults to -1 (last entry). -n NUMBER, --number NUMBER Number of lines to output: defaults to 1 (See -o). 0 returns entire history. -S SEARCH, --search SEARCH Pattern to match for output. -m DELIM, --delim DELIM String to use as output delimiter (defaults to ' ') -0, --nul Use NUL character as output delimiter.
Clipster (mostly) follows the XDG base-dir spec: https://specifications.freedesktop.org/basedir-spec/basedir-spec-latest.html
Clipster looks for its configuration file
/etc/xdg/clipster/), but this directory can be changed using the
The config options, and their default values, are shown below. Note the
%()s syntax can be used to re-use an existing config option's value elsewhere.
You can create a config file containing only some of the options, and the rest will be derived from defaults.
[clipster] # Directory for clipster data/files (usually `$HOME/.local/share/clipster`) #data_dir = $XDG_DATA_HOME # Default selection (if no -p of -c given on command-line): can be PRIMARY or CLIPBOARD #default_selection = PRIMARY # Comma-separated list of selections to be watched and written to history #active_selections = PRIMARY,CLIPBOARD # Enable synchronising of clipboards # Only clipboards listed in 'active selections' will be synchronised #sync_selections = no # full path to the clipster history file (JSON) # Maximum file size is: 'history_size * max_input * 2' (defaults: 10MB) #history_file = %(data_dir)s/history # Number of items to save in the history file for each selection. 0 - don't save history. #history_size = 200 # Time in seconds to flush history to disk, if changed # Set to 0 to only write history file on (clean) exit #history_update_interval = 60 # Write history file immediately after selection changes? # If yes, disables history_update_interval #write_on_change = no # Full path to the clipster socket file #socket_file = %(data_dir)s/clipster_sock # Full path to the clipster pid file #pid_file = %(data_dir)s/clipster.pid # Maximum length for new clipboard items #max_input = 50000 # Number of rows of clipboard content to show in the selection widget before truncating # Set to a high number to avoid truncation #row_height = 3 # Allow duplicates in the clipboard (if set to no, the earlier entry will be removed) #duplicates = no # smart_update tries to be clever about small changes to the selection, and only adds # to the history if the number of characters added or removed is greater than it's value. # for example, if set to 2: the latest clipboard entry catch, would be replaced by any of: # cat, catc, catchy, catcher, but not ca or catchers. # Defaults to 1, as some applications update the clipboard by continually adding new # items with a single character added or removed each time. # Set to 0 to disable. #smart_update = 1 # Extract uris from the selection text and add them to the default clipboard #extract_uris = yes # Extract emails from the selection text and add them to the default clipboard #extract_emails = yes # Extract patterns (as specified in patterns file: clipster_dir/patterns) and add them to the default clipboard #extract_patterns = no #patterns_file = %(conf_dir)s/patterns # Ignore selections matching certain patterns (as specified in patterns file: clipster_dir/ignore_patterns) #ignore_patterns = no #ignore_patterns_file = %(conf_dir)s/ignore_patterns # Extracted patterns are added to the history before the selection, and the clipbaord buffer is left unchanged. # Enabling this option adds the pattern as the last item int he history, and updates the clipboard buffer with the pattern. # NOTE: Multiple patterns will be applied sequentially: last one will be used for selection. # This option also applies to email and uri patterns (which are processed before additional patterns). #pattern_as_selection = no # Comma-separated list of WM_CLASS properties for apps where clipboard changes should be ignored. # Used to ignore clipboard changes from sensitive apps, e.g. password managers. #blacklist_classes = # Comma-separated list of WM_CLASS properties for apps where clipboard changes should NOT be ignored. # Used to only monitor clipboard changes from whitelisted apps, all other apps will be ignored! #whitelist_classes =
Launch the daemon
The first step is to launch the Clipster daemon:
~$ clipster -d
This can be run as a background task on session start - e.g. using
& in a shell script, or a startup manager (e.g.
For debugging, use the
~$ clipster -d -l DEBUG
Using the client
The client will use the value of
default_selection from the config file to decide which selection to read from - this can be overridden using the
To get the latest entry in the clipboard:
~$ clipster -o [-p|-c]
To get the last 5 items from the clipboard history:
~$ clipster -o -n 5 [-p|-c]
To add some text to the clipboard:
~$ echo "hello world" | clipster [-p|-c]
To launch the clipboard selection dialog box:
~$ clipster -s [-p|-c]
The dialog box can be used to select an item from the clipboard history - either
Arrow Keys and
Return or mouse (double-click) can be used to select an item. Pressing
Esc will close the dialog.
Items containing multiple lines will be truncated based on the
row_height config value.
It's easy to integrate clipster into an existing window manager by binding clipster commands to keyboard shortcuts.
For example, in i3 (my WM of choice) I have the following in my .i3/config file:
# Start clipster daemon exec --no-startup-id clipster -d # shortcut to selection widget (primary) bindsym $mod+c exec --no-startup-id clipster -sp
As well as the
extract_emails options, there is a general-purpose
extract_patterns flag. If enabled, this will cause clipster to try to read regular expressions from the
patterns file (in
clipster_dir) and parse the selection text for matching patterns, adding the matched text to the history. clipster will skip any invalid patterns, logging a warning.
patterns file expects one regular expression per line. Do not add any comments, quote-marks or delimiters (e.g.
/) unles these are part of your pattern.
For example, to match all numbers within the selection text, add
\d+ to the
Clipster can ignore clipboard changes from applications based on their WM_CLASS property. This is useful for sensitive apps such as password managers, where you do not want clipster saving the text into the history file.
To determine the WM_CLASS for an application:
- run your app
- In a new terminal, run
xprop. A small cross-hair will appear.
- Click on your app.
- Note down the second value of the
For example, to ignore keepass2, emacs and firefox, add the following list to your config file:
blacklist_classes = KeePass2,Emacs24,Firefox
(For developers). The protocol for communication between client and server is fairly simple. It consists of 3 mandatory, and one optional field:
ACTION: An action for the server to perform. One of
BOARD: The X selection to use. One of
COUNT: A number used for actions where counts are important.
CONTENT: (Optional) Content specific to each action.
Note: The final
: separator is only included when content is present.
This is the default action. Return clipboard history (using count to determine the number of items to return). If CONTENT is defined, use this as a regex pattern to filter history.
Add the value of CONTENT to the clipboard.
Deletes an item from the clipboard. If CONTENT is defined, delete by pattern match. Else delete the last item on the board.
Deletes all items from the clipboard.
Launch the clipboard selection UI window.
Bugs & Improvements
I'm happy to receive any bug reports, pull requests, suggestions for features or other improvements - with the following caveats:
Clipster should remain driven by the command-line and keyboard - no GUI-only or mouse-only features.
No extra 3rd party dependencies (unless they are ones found in the core of most distros).
No requirement for packaging for installation (I'm happy to accept specfiles, debian packaging files etc - but you must always be able to just download and run Clipster if you want).