Student develops plugin to ease copying, pasting


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Photo by Screenshot of SaveMyClips plugin |

SaveMyClips allows users to copy multiple items in a chronological order and toggle between saved clips using keyboard shortcuts. Sam Agnew, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, created the extension to help users keep track of items they copy.


It’s a nice surprise when someone solves an everyday problem, especially when the solution makes writing about that problem immediately easier. Copying and pasting is one of the most common and frustratingly tedious tasks for pretty much anyone who uses a computer.

“Accidentally copying over the last saved item is generally accompanied by profanities,” said Sam Agnew, a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in computer science.

Agnew is the director of “HackRU,” the University’s premier student-run hackathon. He experiences the headache of copy and paste limitations every time he has to copy from a template to send to the event’s sponsors.

Agnew considered waiting until a hackathon to solve this problem, but he was so frustrated he decided instead to tackle one of the most basic computer functions now, he said. He wrote an extension for Google Chrome that helps users keep track of and switch between the different items that they copy.

“I call it SaveMyClips,” he said. “No, it’s not a sexy name, but it works as described and is damn useful.”

SaveMyClips has two basic functions, he said. First, it records multiple items copied in a chronological list, as opposed to only the most recently copied items as is the default behavior. It also lets users toggle between saved clips using keyboard shortcuts, making the process smoother and relatively painless.

Other tools are peripherally related, like Lazarus, another Chrome plugin. Among other features, Lazarus saves everything a user types into a browser to protect them against losing data in the event of a browser crash.

“There are a lot of workaround solutions to this problem, but none that tackled it directly,” Agnew said.

The biggest catch with SaveMyClips comes with the territory. Like all Chrome extensions, SaveMyClips is sandboxed in Chrome — it can’t work outside of the browser. This means that copying text to a Microsoft Word document, for example, is off limits.

“I would have to make it a standalone application for it to work on the overall operating system,” he said.

Agnew plans to make SaveMyClips into a standalone program eventually, just not right now.

Although SaveMyClips doesn’t have many users yet — the extension has been downloaded between 30 and 40 times — users have responded positively so far despite the browser limitation, he said.

“I’m not really promoting this outside of my own Facebook page,” Agnew said. “To me, this goes back to the way I view hacking. It’s an art form, not something you do to get rich quick.”

When confronted with a problem other people share, someone needs to take action.

“Especially when you have the unique ability to solve the problem for yourself and others as if you’re some sort of wizard,” Agnew said. “You just go ahead and do it.”

Tyler Gold is an intern at The Verge. You can follow him on Twitter @tylergold. Nis Frome is the co-founder of Hublished.com.You can follow him on Twitter @nisfrome.


By Tyler Gold and Nis Frome

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