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Clipmon is a clipboard monitor - it watches the system clipboard and can automatically insert any new text into the current location in Emacs.

It also adds changes to the system clipboard to the kill ring, making Emacs into a clipboard manager for text - you can then use a package like browse-kill-ring or helm-ring to view and manage your clipboard history.

You can use it for taking notes from a webpage, for example - just copy the text you want to save and it will be added to Emacs. It helps to have an autocopy feature or addon for the browser, e.g. AutoCopy 2 for Firefox - then you can just select text to add it to Emacs.

Here's a diagram - text flows from the top to the bottom:

             |   Other programs    |+
                |  System   |
                | clipboard |
OS                /
Emacs           /
      +--------------+      +---------------+
      | clipmon-mode |......|  autoinsert   |
      +--------------+      +---------------+
              |                     .
        +-----------+               .
        | Emacs     ++              .
        | kill ring ++       +--------------+
        +-----------+|+      |  transforms  |
         +-----------+|      +--------------+
          +-----------+             .
                 |                  .
                 | yank             . autoinsert
            |      Emacs buffer        |

The solid line is turned on and off with clipmon-mode, while the dotted line is turned on and off with clipmon-autoinsert-toggle, usually bound to a key. There are also various transformations you can perform on the text, e.g. adding newlines to the end.

(Emacs's kill-ring is like the system clipboard but with multiple items in it. If you copy a bunch of things in another program, Emacs normally only knows about the last one copied, but with clipmon mode on, it will monitor the system clipboard and add any new text it sees to the kill ring.)


It's simplest to use the package manager:

M-: (package-install 'clipmon)

It will then be ready to use, and will also be available the next time you start Emacs.


To give it a try, do M-: (clipmon-autoinsert-toggle) - this will turn on autoinsert. Then go to another application and copy some text to the clipboard - clipmon should detect it after a second or two and make a beep. If you switch back to Emacs, the text should be there in your buffer.

Note that you can still yank and pull text in Emacs as usual while autoinsert is on, since it only monitors the system clipboard.

You can turn off autoinsert with the same command - to add a keybinding to it add something like this to your init file:

(global-set-key (kbd "<M-f2>") 'clipmon-autoinsert-toggle)

You can also turn it on and off from the Options menu.

Also, if no change is detected after a certain number of minutes, autoinsert will turn itself off automatically with another beep. This is so you don't forget that autoinsert is on and accidentally add text to your buffer.

And note: if you happen to copy the same text to the clipboard twice, clipmon won't know about the second time, as it only detects changes. And if you copy text faster than the timer interval is set it may miss some changes, but you can adjust the interval.

Using as a clipboard manager

To try out clipmon as a clipboard manager, make sure clipmon-mode is on by doing M-: (clipmon-mode 1) (also accessible from the Options menu) and that autoinsert is off, then copy a few pieces of text from another program (more slowly than the default timer interval of 2 seconds though). Switch back to Emacs, and see that you can yank any of the text back with C-y, M-y, M-y…

Note that when you turn on autoinsert, it also turns on clipmon-mode, to capture text to the kill ring, but if you'd like to turn on clipmon-mode automatically, you can add this to your init file:

;; monitor the system clipboard and add any changes to the kill ring
(add-to-list 'after-init-hook 'clipmon-mode-start)

You can also use the package browse-kill-ring to manage the kill ring - you can install it with M-: (package-install 'browse-kill-ring), then call browse-kill-ring to see the contents of the kill ring, insert from it, delete items, etc. Helm also has a package called helm-ring, with the function helm-show-kill-ring.

You can persist the kill ring between sessions if you'd like (though note that this might involve writing sensitive information like passwords to the disk - although you could always delete such text from the kill ring with browse-kill-ring-delete). To do so, add this to your init file:

;; persist the kill ring between sessions
(add-to-list 'after-init-hook 'clipmon-persist)

This will use Emacs's savehist library to save the kill ring, both at the end of the session and at set intervals. However, savehist also saves various other settings by default, including the minibuffer history - see savehist-mode for more details. To change the autosave interval, add something like this:

(setq savehist-autosave-interval (* 5 60)) ; save every 5 minutes (default)

The kill ring has a fixed number of entries which you can set, depending on how much history you want to save between sessions:

(setq kill-ring-max 500) ; default is 60 in Emacs 24.4

To see how much space the kill-ring is taking up, you can call this function:

=> 29670 characters


There are various options you can set with customize:

(customize-group 'clipmon)

or set them in your init file - these are the default values:

(setq clipmon-timer-interval 2)       ; check system clipboard every n secs
(setq clipmon-autoinsert-sound t)     ; t for included beep, or path or nil
(setq clipmon-autoinsert-color "red") ; color of cursor when autoinsert is on
(setq clipmon-autoinsert-timeout 5)   ; stop autoinsert after n mins inactivity

before inserting the text, transformations are performed on it in this order:

(setq clipmon-transform-trim t)        ; remove leading whitespace
(setq clipmon-transform-remove         ; remove text matching this regexp
      "\\[[0-9][0-9]?[0-9]?\\]\\|\\[citation needed\\]\\|\\[by whom?\\]")
(setq clipmon-transform-prefix "")     ; add to start of text
(setq clipmon-transform-suffix "\n\n") ; add to end of text
(setq clipmon-transform-function nil)  ; additional transform function



20150211 refactored to handle kill ring better. clipmon-mode now just adds changes to the kill-ring. clipmon-autoinsert-toggle added to toggle automatic inserting of text. changed several setting names - all with aliases to old names. clipmon-action removed - no longer needed to call kill-new or insert with it. 20150131 added clipmon-action, to accommodate adding to kill-ring 20150120 initial release

Sound File

The sound file was created with Audacity []. It's a bit on the quiet side so hopefully it doesn't get annoying when you're taking a lot of notes.

Feedback and Thanks

Feedback is always welcome - for feature requests or bug reports, see the Github issues page []. Pull requests are welcome also.

Thanks go to tuhdo for suggesting using clipmon as a clipboard manager, and Steve Purcell for initial feedback.

Author: Brian Burns
Version: 20150211

This file was generated from commentary in clipmon.el - do not edit!