By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 1998, The Syracuse Newspapers
The Internet could not have become what it is without free software. The tradition of sharing programs with others without cost may be amazing to those who are used to buying software, but it's a continued delight to us old-timers.
A case in point is ClipCache, a Windows 95 program that ranks at the top of my list of important text utilities. ClipCache (downloadable fromhttp://www.xrayz.demon.co.uk) is a superbly written program that monitors the Windows clipboard and stores everything that comes in. You can set it up to keep only a specified number of items, and you can create groups of clipped texts.
ClipCache is free. Not free for a trial period, or free if you register with the author. Just plain free.
Alas, the clipboard is a little understood part of Windows, and many users look at me blankly when I mention the word. So I'd better explain it first. What the clipboard does is simple: It stores the last item that you have copied or cut. Anything can be put in the clipboard—a picture, an entire spreadsheet, even a complete file—but in most cases it's used for bits and pieces of text.
The clipboard stores one thing at a time. Unknown to nearly everyone, Windows has its own clipboard extender that can store multiple items, called Clipbook, and it's on the Windows 95 CD-ROM if you can't find it on your hard drive. (Actually, trivia fans will want to know that there are two clipbooks; one of them is designed to work across a network.)
Clipbook is an old-fashioned program, so don't even think of hunting for it. Go get ClipCache instead. ClipCache lives in the System Tray (the carved-out area on the far right of the Taskbar) and opens with a quick click or with a key combination. (I've set mine up to open with Alt-Insert.) It stays out of the way, grabbing all text you've cut or copied so that you can use those text fragments later.
How would you use ClipCache? To store Internet links, for example. Or to copy references from Web pages, or paragraphs from something you're reading, or maybe to put together notes for something you're writing as a school or business project.
ClipCache is a full 32-bit program that runs elegantly in the background without causing even the slightest slowdown in other operations. Microsoft's excellent Wintop monitor shows that ClipCache takes up only .11 percent of my PC's attention (in CPU cycles). That's just over 1/10th of 1 percent.
If you haven't used the clipboard much, you might want to save the following tips:
First, all you need to do to mark something you want to copy to the clipboard is select it. Usually, this means dragging your mouse pointer over it with the left button held down. Then you choose "Copy" from the Edit menu or just press Ctrl-C.
Second, you don't need to have an Edit menu with a "Copy" option to use the clipboard. This is perhaps the least understood aspect of the way Windows does cut, copy and paste operations. Just select your text and press Ctrl-C to copy it to the clipboard. This means you can copy off a Web page even when you don't have an Edit menu, or copy from a window when you are entering something from the keyboard (into a text-entry dialog, in other words).
Third, you can even copy the names of files and folders in Windows 95. Simply click once on the name to highlight it, then press Ctrl-C.