CopyQ for Keeping a Track of Clipboard History in Linux

Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V work even better if you can access what you had copied earlier by accessing the clipboard history. CopyQ gives you that feature in Linux.
Warp Terminal

How do you copy-paste text? Let me guess. You either use the right click menu to copy-paste or use Ctrl+C to copy a text and Ctrl+V to paste the text. The text copied this way is saved to ‘clipboard’. The clipboard is a special location in your system's memory that stores cut or copied text (and in some cases images).

But have you ever been in a situation where you had a text copied and then you copied another text and then realized you needed the text you copied earlier? Trust me; it happens a lot.

Instead of wondering about finding the previous text to copy again, you can use a clipboard manager.

A clipboard manager is a handy little tool that keeps a history of the text you had copied. If you need to use the earlier copied text, you can use the clipboard manager to copy it again.


There are several clipboard managers available for Linux. In this article, I’ll cover one such tool that goes by the name CopyQ.

CopyQ Clipboard Manager

CopyQ is nifty clipboard manager that has plenty of features to manage your system’s clipboard. It is an open source software available for free for major Linux distributions.

Like any other clipboard manager, CopyQ monitors the system clipboard and saves its content. It can save both text and images from the clipboard.

CopyQ sits in the system tray and you can easily access it from there. From the system tray, just click on the text that you want. It will automatically copy this text and you would notice that the copied text moves on to the top of the saved clipboards.

Copyq System Tray

In the system tray, it shows only the five recent clips. You can open the main window using the “Show/hide main window” option in the system tray. CopyQ saves up to 200 clips. You may edit the clipboard items here.

CopyQ Main Window

You may also set a keyboard shortcut to bring the clipboard with a few key combination. This option is available in Preferences->Shortcuts.

CopyQ clipboard manager Shortcuts

If you decide to use it, I advise enabling the autostart so that CopyQ runs automatically when you start your system. By default, it saves 200 items in the history and that’s a lot in my opinion. You may want to change that as well.

CopyQ Clipboard Manager Auto Start

CopyQ is an advanced clipboard manager with plenty of additional features. You can search for text in the saved clipboard items. You can sort, create, edit or change the order of the clipboard items.

You can ignore clipboard copied from some windows or containing some text. You can also temporarily disable clipboard saving. CopyQ also supports Vim-like editor and shortcut for Vim fans.

There are many more features that you may explore on your own. For me, the most notable feature is that it gives me easy access to older copied text, and I am happy with that.

Installing CopyQ on Linux

CopyQ is available for Linux, Windows and macOS. You can get the executable file for Windows and macOS from its website.

For Linux, CopyQ is available in the repositories of all major Linux distributions. Which means that you can find it in your software center or install it using your distribution’s package manager.

Ubuntu users may find it in the software center if universe repository is enabled.

CopyQ Software Center
CopyQ in Ubuntu Software Center

Alternatively, you can use the apt command to install it:

sudo apt install copyq

Ubuntu users also have the option to use the official PPA and always get the latest stable CopyQ version. For example, at the time of writing this article, CopyQ version in Ubuntu 20.04 is 3.10 while PPA has newer version 3.11. It’s your choice really.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:hluk/copyq
sudo apt update
sudo apt install copyq

You may also want to know how to remove PPA later.

Troubleshooting: CopyQ not saving clipboard

CopyQ may not work properly in the Wayland display manager. If CopyQ is not saving the clipboard content, check if your Linux system is using Wayland.

If that's the case, here's what you need to do in order to make CopyQ work again.

Step 1: Close any running instance of CopyQ.

Now, from a terminal, run it like this:

env QT_QPA_PLATFORM=xcb copyq

Check if the clipboard history is saved now. If CopyQ is working properly now, go to next step.

Step 2: Since CopyQ is working when it is run with `QT_QPA_PLATFORM environment variable set, you should make the change permanent so that when Copy auto starts, it sets the required variable.

Create a backup of the desktop config file (just for the sake of it):

cp ~/.config/autostart/copyq.desktop ~/.config/autostart/copyq.desktop~

Now, open this file for editing in Nano or Gedit. I’ll use Gedit so that it is easier for anyone:

gedit ~/.config/autostart/copyq.desktop

At the bottom of this file, you’ll see a line starting with Exec.

Change this line to:

Exec=env QT_QPA_PLATFORM=xcb copyq

Step 3: save the file and reboot your system.

CopyQ should auto-start and work properly now.

Do you use a clipboard manager?

I find it surprising that many people are not even aware of an essential utility like clipboard manager. For me, it’s one of the essential productivity tools on Linux.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, there are several clipboard managers available for Linux.

Ctrl+C Ctrl+V Made Better With Clipboard Managers in Linux
Save yourself time and frustration with a clipboard manager and never lose track of your copy-pasting.

CopyQ is one of such tools. Do you use or know of some other similar clipboard tool? Why not let us know in the comments?

If you started using CopyQ after reading this article, do share your experience with it. What you liked and what you didn’t like? The comment section is all yours.

About the author
Abhishek Prakash

Abhishek Prakash

Created It's FOSS 11 years ago to share my Linux adventures. Have a Master's degree in Engineering and years of IT industry experience. Huge fan of Agatha Christie detective mysteries 🕵️‍♂️

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