There are many ways to exchange data between applications, but the clipboard is probably the simplest. Copy here, paste there: easy.
The open-source HaveClip takes this idea to the next level by synchronizing clipboards across your network. Copy text, an image, maybe a file on one computer — Windows, Mac or Linux — and it’ll be (almost) immediately available from another.
We expected the program to install various drivers and play around with your network stack, but the reality was very different. Our Windows build didn’t require any installation at all; we just unzipped and ran it, and the HaveClip icon appeared in our system tray.
Despite this, there is some manual setup work to do. This starts by launching the program on every network system where you’d like it to be used, then telling each computer which of the others it’ll be accessing. This isn’t difficult, really — click Settings > Pool > Add, click “Search local network”, select a target system and click “Verify connection” — but it can take a moment.
There are important security considerations, too. Your clipboard may contain very sensitive data, and so HaveClip can encrypt it via SSL or TLS. Again, this isn’t difficult to set up — click Settings > Security, choose SSL (for example), click “Generate new private key and certificate” — but you have to ensure all your systems are using the same security settings before the program will work.
Once we’d finished the setup process, however, everything ran very smoothly. Almost as soon as we copied data to the clipboard on one system, it was available on another. We noticed an occasional system lag for a fraction of a second after copying — presumably because of the extra activity in HaveClip launching, and sending the data over the network — but this didn’t happen often, and we could learn to live with it.
As an bonus, the program also keeps a clipboard history. Left-clicking its system tray icon displays a menu of the most recent items (10, by default), and clicking any of these copies it back to the clipboard, ready for reuse.
You’ll probably need to spend a little more time configuring HaveClip to suit your needs. Automatic synchronisation is annoying, for instance – you probably don’t want your clipboard text overwritten every time someone else copies something – but fortunately the program can be set to synchronise only on demand. (Normally the clipboard is your own, and data is exchanged only when you choose the Sync option from HaveClip’s menu.)
Another plus is that particular systems can be set up to send or receive clipboard data only. Again, this allows some information to flow, while keeping other hassles to a minimum.
We’re still not sure whether HaveClip is really necessary. If you want to transfer information around your network then a messaging tool offers more features, while leaving clipboard functionality untouched.
Still, broadcasting data with a quick Ctrl+C is certainly very easy, and if you’re interested in the idea then HaveClip is worth a look. Windows, Mac and Linux downloads are available now.