How to Clear the Clipboard on a Mac: A Step-by-Step Guide
How-ToAppleMAC Aug 24, 2023

How to Clear the Clipboard on a Mac: A Step-by-Step Guide

The clipboard is a crucial feature on any computer, including Macs. It allows you to temporarily store text, images, or other data for easy copy and paste operations. However, there may come a time when you want to clear the clipboard on your Mac to protect your sensitive information or free up memory. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through several methods to clear the clipboard on a Mac, ensuring your data remains secure.

Table of Contents

  1. Clearing the Clipboard Using Keyboard Shortcuts
    1. Using Command + C to clear the clipboard
    2. Using Command + X to cut and clear
    3. Using Command + A, Command + X to cut all and clear
  2. Clearing the Clipboard Manually
    1. Clearing clipboard in specific apps
    2. Clearing clipboard history on macOS
    3. Clearing clipboard via Terminal
  3. Using Third-Party Clipboard Managers
    1. Overview of clipboard manager apps
    2. Installing and using clipboard manager apps
    3. Clearing clipboard history in clipboard manager apps
  4. Securely Managing Clipboard Data
    1. Using password managers
    2. Considerations for sensitive data
  5. Conclusion

1. Clearing the Clipboard Using Keyboard Shortcuts

The most straightforward way to clear the clipboard on a Mac is by using keyboard shortcuts. These shortcuts work universally across most applications.

  • Using Command + C to clear the clipboard: This shortcut is commonly used for copying text or objects. However, if you copy something benign after copying sensitive information, it will overwrite the clipboard. This method may not be the most secure, as it relies on chance.
  • Using Command + X to cut and clear: This shortcut not only cuts the selected text or object but also clears it from the clipboard. It's a more deliberate way to ensure the clipboard is empty.
  • Using Command + A, Command + X to cut all and clear: Selecting all the text in a document (Command + A) and then cutting it (Command + X) will effectively clear the clipboard. This is particularly useful when you want to clear all clipboard contents at once.

2. Clearing the Clipboard Manually

If you want more control over your clipboard and need to clear it selectively, you can do so manually within specific applications or by accessing your clipboard history.

  • Clearing clipboard in specific apps: Many applications have their own clipboard functionality. You can usually clear the clipboard within the app's settings or preferences. For example, in Microsoft Word, you can go to "Edit" > "Office Clipboard" and clear the clipboard history.
  • Clearing clipboard history on macOS: macOS keeps a history of your clipboard items. To clear this history, go to "System Preferences" > "Security & Privacy" > "Privacy" > "Accessibility." Find and uncheck the box for the app you want to revoke clipboard access for. This action will also clear the app's clipboard history.
  • Clearing clipboard via Terminal: For advanced users, you can use the Terminal to clear the clipboard. Just you need to open Terminal and type the following command:


Copy code

pbcopy < /dev/null

This command will replace the contents of the clipboard with nothing, effectively clearing it.

3. Using Third-Party Clipboard Managers

If you frequently work with a lot of clipboard data or need more advanced features, third-party clipboard manager apps can be a great solution.

  • Overview of clipboard manager apps: Clipboard managers enhance your clipboard's functionality by providing a history of items you've copied. This allows you to easily retrieve previously copied items and manage your clipboard history.
  • Installing and using clipboard manager apps: You can find clipboard manager apps on the Mac App Store. Popular options include "ClipMenu," "Alfred," and "CopyClip." Install the app of your choice and follow its instructions to start managing your clipboard.
  • Clearing clipboard history in clipboard manager apps: Most clipboard manager apps provide an option to clear your clipboard history. Usually, you can access this feature within the app's settings or preferences. Be cautious when using clipboard managers, as they can store sensitive information if not configured properly.

4. Securely Managing Clipboard Data

When dealing with sensitive information, it's crucial to employ additional measures to ensure data security.

  • Enabling and using Universal Clipboard: If you have multiple Apple devices, you can use Universal Clipboard to copy and paste across them. To ensure data security, make sure your devices are signed in with the same Apple ID and enable Two-Factor Authentication. Universal Clipboard automatically clears the clipboard after a short time.
  • Using password managers: Password managers like "1Password" and "LastPass" securely store and autofill your login credentials. By using these tools, you reduce the need to copy and paste passwords, enhancing security.
  • Considerations for sensitive data: Always exercise caution when copying and pasting sensitive information. Be aware of the apps you use and whether they might store clipboard data. Regularly review and clear your clipboard history, especially if you work with confidential data.


Clearing the clipboard on a Mac is a straightforward process that can be done using keyboard shortcuts, manual methods, or third-party clipboard manager apps. Depending on your needs and the sensitivity of the data you handle, you can choose the method that best suits you. Additionally, take extra precautions when dealing with sensitive information to ensure it remains secure and protected from potential breaches. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can confidently manage and clear the clipboard on your Mac while maintaining data privacy and security.

Anju Kumari Anju Kumari
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