February 6, 2002 at 2:49 AM CST - Updated July 27 at 12:30 AM
A computer is only as good as the software and hardware you use with it. Heartland Fast Forward begins a special series of reports to help you with that this month. We start with one of the most overlooked, and yet one of the handiest features of your operating system.
Most people use it almost every time they sit down at a computer. It's the most basic, and yet the most powerful tool included in all operating systems. What is it? It's the copy/paste or cut 'n' paste function. That name harkens back to the time when layout designers actually had to cut and paste pieces of paper -- arranging them on a page for eventual publication.
"We used to have to go to this big book of clipart, and page through it until we could find the right logo or whatever, then, cut it out," says Rhonda Govro, a computer artist at Horizon Printing in Cape Girardeau.
Today it's all done by computer. Govro says she can't even keep track of how many times a day she uses copy-paste or cut 'n' paste. "I hate to say it, but we don't even have any pencils around here. It's all done by computer," says Govro.
But for all it's convenience, the cut 'n' paste function in Windows -- called the Clipboard -- is frustratingly limited in it's capability. When you copy something into the clipboard, it stays there only until you copy the next thing into the clipboard...then the first item goes away.
With inexpensive, simple-to-use 3rd-party software, though, every item you put in the clipboard stays there, so you can use it later, print-it, merge it with others, sort catalog, and more.
My favorite is Clipmate...I used it to build this story, copying and pasting the various web addresses into the clipboard, then gluing them together to paste into a word document all at once.
Clipmate is available at Thornsoft software. You can try it free for 30 days, then the full version is $20. But there are any number of other software clipboard-enhancement programs available on the internet...some are for free, others are shareware and very inexpensive.
Look in the upper right hand corner of this screen for a listing of other web sites that offer Clipboard-enhancing functions.