I’m currently using Google Chrome as my web browser. I fought it, for a while, as it didn’t have extensions until after it had been released for a while. And I love web browser extensions, so Firefox was always “it” for me. But now Google Chrome has ’em, and I love it. Not just for that, of course, because I also like Google’s products in general. Gmail, Google Reader, Google Voice, Google Calendar, Google Docs… I use them all, to varying degrees. So one of the things that disappointed me about Google Chrome originally was that it didn’t seem to really integrate with Google’s other services. I’d imagined a browser with built-in Gmail checking, or Calendar reminders, or something to integrate the Google services. And there was… nothing. But with extensions now a feature, Google started releasing their own, and suddenly the browser I was “creating” by choosing my favorite extensions was closer to the browser I’d imagined. One of Google’s newest extensions is Web Clipboard. Web Clipboard integrates the web browser with the cloud, and enables users to store snippets of text and HTML on Google’s online clipboard, and then access them later for pasting, with just a couple clicks.
First, Web Clipboard is a new extension, and as such has a few serious problems, which I’ll touch on in a minute. My first reaction to Web Clipboard, however, was that I didn’t really see a need for it. I totally understand wanting a separate clipboard application for the desktop, because sometimes I need to copy three or four separate pieces of information, and then use them individually, but that’s why I use a clipboard program, instead of copy, paste, copy, paste, copy, paste, I can now copy, copy, copy, paste, paste, paste. I feel it’s more efficient, but I didn’t think I’d want one program for copying text in my web browser. But after using it for a bit, I can see the value.
Imagine you find yourself on a website with three or four pieces of information. My first thought was that I’d just made an online software purchase. This would generally include my username and password, and possibly a serial number, purchase order number, and maybe something else. That’s four or five pieces of information. What do I do with it? In the past, I’ve copied everything down (including any text between the important pieces of information), opened Gmail, and emailed the information to myself. With Web Clipboard, I can copy down each piece of information separately. To do this, I simply highlight the text I want to copy, click the Web Clipboard icon, then choose the “Copy selection to web clipboard” option. I can do this as many times as I want, with each selection now showing up on its own line. Later, when I want to access that information, for instance in a different Google service, I simply put the cursor where I want it, click the Web Clipboard icon, then click my mouse on the line of text I want to paste.
At least, that’s how it would work in an ideal world. At the moment, Web Clipboard isn’t all that useful, at least for me. It only works the way I described above some of the time.
Here’s what I’ve been able to do with it. I could copy text from a Google Docs word processing document, or pretty much any website. However, when I just highlighted the above paragraph and tried to copy it (I’m writing this review directly into the Associated Content text editor), Web Clipboard didn’t recognize that I had anything selected. But I do already have some text copied into my Web Clipboard, which I was able to paste into this field without any issues. Similar to that was my experience with Google Docs. I was able to take an existing Google Docs word processor, highlight some text, and copy it into my web clipboard. But I was never – ever! – able to paste it in. Stranger still was another experience I had with Google Docs, which has its own built-in server web clipboard (it’s the same icon as you can see in the screenshots). In this case, I copied some text from an existing Google Docs document and copied it into the built-in server web clipboard. That text then showed up in my Web Clipboard extension. I could paste the content back into the document using the built-in clipboard, but still nothing from the Web Clipboard extension, in spite of the fact that the content had just come from that very same document.
So at the moment the extension is more than a little frustrating. I think it’s a fantastic idea, and the fact that anything I copy stays in my Web Clipboard for 30 days after I last access it is great. That means I could copy something, forget about it, then grab it a few days later, even if I can’t remember the website the text originally came from. So in that regard, it’s nice. But overall, there are just a few too many issues with it. Sometimes it works, other times it doesn’t, and a lot of the time it only works in one direction. As I said, it’s frustrating. I think the idea is great, but the implementation still needs a bit of work. Maybe the next version will be better. Until then, however, I think I’ll be deleting it.