Google has added a new feature to its Docs online office suite that lets you copy and paste text and images between spreadsheets, presentations, and documents via the cloud. The new server clipboard also lets you copy multiple items so you can re-use them later, even if you delete the originating document.
A regular copy/paste routine invoked via CTRL-C and CTRL-V keystrokes, respectively, still works. As you know, this limits the copy/paste operation to a single computer. If you want to copy something into server clipboard, simply select the item in the Google Docs editor and then click the “Copy selection to server clipboard” option from the new clipboard menu that looks like a folder with a cloud overlaid over it. You can store multiple items in server clipboard as opposed to keeping only the latest copied item, which is the case when you copy the “old way”, via CTRL-C.
The cloud also allows you to access the items you previously copied to server clipboard, as long as you were signed in with the same Google account. The server clipboard icon shows a handy preview of copied items in a submenu and lets you paste a desired item as plan text or HTML-formatted content.
Copying and pasting via the server-side clipboard allows you to copy on one computer, then sign in and paste on another one. For example, you can copy something in your work computer and then paste the item into a document on your home machine. Or, you could copy a set of cells in a spreadsheet and paste it into a document as a properly formatted table.
Google warns that the regular copy/pate shortcuts don’t work well in certain situations, including copying between presentations and another document type, copying-pasting between computers, and copying something you aren’t going to paste right away. For any of those instances, server clipboard is the way to go.
You can delete all items stored on the server clipboard by choosing the “Clear all items” option from the server clipboard menu. Interestingly, everything you copy is subject to Google’s retention policy, meaning the copied content remains on Google’s servers until 30 days have passed since you last took action on a given content selection. The search firm noted that you can’t use the server clipboard to copy and paste regular text and images in Google Docs presentations yet. In addition, you can select entire shapes on a single slide, and if the shape is a text shape, then the text will be copied to the server clipboard, Google said.
Google didn’t formally announce the new feature on the official Google Docs blog at press time. Since I do all of my writing in Google Docs, I spotted a new icon in the Google Docs toolbar and followed a link to Google’s Help document that offers more information. Don’t panic if you don’t see server clipboard enabled in your account because it takes a while to deploy the new code across all Google’s servers. It’s a safe bet that Google will add server clipboard to other services at a later stage, such as Gmail, Picasa, YouTube, and what not.