How to View the Clipboard on a Mac

By Andrew Tennyson

Learn how to use the Finder app on your Mac computer to display the contents of your clipboard. Also learn about what you'll see and third-party clipboards.

The clipboard on a Mac running OS X Yosemite stores the last thing you copied or cut using the Edit menu or a keyboard shortcut. The quickest way to view the contents of the clipboard is to paste it into a document by pressing Command-V. You can also use the Finder app on your Mac to view the current contents of the clipboard.

View the Contents of the Clipboard

Step 1: Click the Finder icon on the Dock to launch the Finder application.

Step 2: Click Help on the main menu at the top of the screen to load the Help Search field.

Use the Help menu in a Finder window.

Step 3: Enter clipboard in the Search field and then click Show Clipboard to view the contents of the clipboard.

Select Show Clipboard to open the clipboard screen.

Another Approach

The clipboard is also accessible from the Edit menu.

You can also view the contents of the clipboard by opening the Finder, clicking Edit on the main menu at the top of the screen and selecting Show Clipboard.

What Shows Up?

Text on the clipboard displays any formatting that has been applied to it.

When you copy or cut text to the clipboard, the actual text displays. When you copy another type of file, such as an image, in many cases only the file name displays. In all instances, a brief description of the contents of the clipboard is also provided at the bottom of the screen.

Using Copy, Paste and Clear Keyboard Shortcuts

The keyboard shortcuts for copying, pasting and cutting items on a Mac are slightly different from those on a Windows computer. To copy, press Command-C. To paste, press Command-V and to cut, press Command-X.

Tip

You can clear the content of the clipboard by restarting your Mac. Click the Apple menu at the top of the screen and select Restart.

Third-Party Clipboard Managers

Clipboard functionality on Mac computers is basic. If you require more robust clipboard capabilities, consider installing a third-party clipboard manager. These programs run in the background and keep a more complete record of what’s being stored on the clipboard. Unlike the default clipboard on your Mac, third-party apps enable you to store multiple items on the clipboard simultaneously. Popular third-party clipboard managers include Clipboard Center, CopyClip and CopyPaste Pro.