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Collective: Attractive, lightweight clipboard utility gets the details right

Dan Moren | April 25, 2014
The clipboard has been a staple of the Mac's operating system since the earliest days. But in that time, it hasn't changed much: It still holds only one item, for example, so you can't see things that you previously copied or pasted. Because of this limitation, developers have offered scores of utilities for saving and accessing multiple clipboards. I've found myself enamored of a recent entry in the category, Generation Loss Interactive's $2 Collective (Mac App Store link), thanks to its simple nature, robust feature set, and pleasing interface.

You can also prune the list manually: If there are items you'd rather not have popping up in your clipboard history, you can remove them by selecting each and then pressing the Delete key. Alternatively, you can quickly clear all contents, or just those you haven't marked as favorites, using the settings (gear) pop-up menu at the bottom of Collective's window.

Collective offers a good amount of customization — not so little that you're stuck with only one way of doing things, nor so much that the options are overwhelming. You can tweak the font and font size of clipping previews; choose how many clippings will be stored, from 10 to 2500; and choose the number of preview lines Collective displays for each clipping. If you don't want Collective to monitor the clipboard in particular apps, you can add those apps to a blacklist. I particularly like that though you can choose, in the app's settings, whether Collective should remain visible at all times, or hide whenever it's in the background, you can also toggle the setting on the fly directly from within the main window, "pinning" it into place when you need to refer to it.

While testing Collective, I found only one significant annoyance. Selecting a clipping — whether by using the keyboard or by clicking it with the cursor — only sends that item to the main clipboard. You still must paste the item using the standard clipboard command (Edit > Paste, or Command+V). I'd like to see the app behave the way Alfred's Auto Paste or LaunchBar's Clipboard History do — choosing an item from the history immediately pastes that content into the active app. This approach is simply more efficient.

Aside from that, Collective is remarkably full-featured. I kept expecting to complain about the lack of a particular feature, only to find it nestled away — or to realize that I simply hadn't tried to see if Collective offered it. If you're looking for a powerful, unobtrusive, and attractive clipboard manager, Collective may be it.


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