Get Clipboard History In a Unity Lens In Ubuntu With Diodon

As we’ve previously mentioned, Ubuntu doesn’t come with a built-in clipboard manager (although KDE does, and enables it by default as well). This is easily rectified by installing one of a number of clipboard managers, such as ClipIt or Pastie. Both those programs place an icon in the GNOME Panel, and let you access your clipboard history by way of a handy menu. Here’s the ClipIt menu, for example.

ClipIt Menu

One of the new features introduced with recent versions of Ubuntu is the Dash, which allows users to search for and launch applications, as well as offering developers another interface for their programs. One of those programs is Diodon, a clipboard manager that not only offers the typical menu-driven interface, but a Unity Lens as well.

To install Diodon, we’ll need to add the daily PPA (personal package archive), which – while offering a potentially unstable version of Diodon – offers the newest features and bux fixes. First, we’ll open the Terminal.

Launch Terminal

Now type sudo apt-add-repository ppa:diodon-team/daily to add the PPA.

Add Diodon PPA

Now type sudo apt-get update to update your system’s software lists to include the software in the Diodon PPA.

Update Software Lists

Finally, type sudo apt-get install diodon diodon-plugins to add Diodon and its plugins package.

Install Diodon and Plugins

Once installed, you’ll need to launch Diodon.

Launch Diodon

From now on, Diodon will be started up automatically when you boot into your system, as it’s been added to your Startup Applications list. As with most clipboard managers, you can choose to access Diodon through a panel menu.

Diodon Menu

What’s nice about Diodon is its keyboard hotkey. By default, clicking Ctrl-Alt-V will bring up its menu. So, If you’re in a word processing program and want to access your clipboard history in order to paste in a snippet, simply hit the hotkey and the menu will appear, under the mouse cursor, for easy access.

Hotkey In Use

Another nice feature is how Diodon doesn’t simply replace the current contents of the clipboard with the snippet you choose from the panel menu, but actually pastes it. If you happen to have a word processing document or other text entry field as your active application, you’ll find that choosing a snippet from the menu (either the panel menu or the hotkey menu), as well as the Unity Lens, causes that snippet to automatically be pasted into your document. It’s a pretty handy feature.

Diodon also handles images in your clipboard. So if you create a screenshot, you can use the Copy To Clipboard option to add the screenshot to the clipboard, instead of saving it to disk. That screenshot is now available and can be pasted into a document simply by selecting it from the menu or Unity Lens. You’ll be able to tell image screenshots by the dimensions given. Below you’ll see an entry named 1366×768 (it’s highlighted); if this is selected, you’ll paste the actual image.

Image In Clipboard Menu

Where Diodon differs from other clipboard managers, however, is its option to act as a Unity Lens. If you’ve selected this option (you can choose to use Diodon as a panel applet, Unity Lens or both), when you open up Unity you’ll see a new clipboard icon at the bottom. Click this to use the clipboard in this environment, clicking “tiles” instead of lines of text to paste them into a document.

Diodon Unity Lens

The lens also supports images, even providing a (very small) preview of the image in the clipboard.

Image In Unity Lens

Overall, Diodon is a very nice option for people wanting a more robust clipboard manager than Ubuntu has by default (none!), and for Unity lovers, something tightly integrated with that environment. The PPA used in this article is a daily build PPA, so radical changes – as well as regressions – can happen, but it seems a solid application already, and something that is definitely worth checking out. Just be aware of potential problems that could arise from using an application from a PPA that isn’t offering a stable release.

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