Clipboard managers have existed for years on iOS, but they’ve never been allowed to be as powerful as their desktop OS counterparts. On iOS specifically, you’re required to exit out of whatever you’re doing to open another app or widget to save or view clipboard items.
Using an Accessibility feature released in iOS 14, you can facilitate saving and viewing clipboard items by using Back Taps—literally tapping the back of the phone—from anywhere in the OS:
Double Back Tap saves the clipboard to iCloud Drive
By using Back Taps, retrieving something from the clipboard can happen on the Home Screen or from within any app:
Triple Back Tap brings up recent clips
This relies on two Shortcuts written by Federico Viticci, found in the MacStories Shortcuts Archive:
- Save clipboard (slightly modified to remove alerts) [download link for iOS]
- Retrieve list of clips [download link for iOS]
These Shortcuts are powerful on their own, they use a file of previously-saved clipboard items and sync them through iCloud Drive. With both of these Shortcuts in your device’s library, you can assign them to Double and Triple Back Tap actions in settings to be able to use them anywhere:
Settings > Accessibility > Touch > Back Tap
I set the Double Back Tap to save the clipboard; Triple Back Tap to recall the list.
Like every year, I hope a native iOS clipboard manager, or third party alternative, slides its way into an update. This workaround using Shortcuts and an Accessibility feature isn’t as passive as a system-wide implementation would be, but I’m happy to be part of the way there for now.