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man pages section 1: User Commands

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Updated: Wednesday, February 9, 2022

clipboard (1t)


clipboard - Manipulate Tk clipboard


clipboard option ?arg arg ...?


clipboard(1t)                Tk Built-In Commands                clipboard(1t)


       clipboard - Manipulate Tk clipboard

       clipboard option ?arg arg ...?

       This command provides a Tcl interface to the Tk clipboard, which stores
       data for later retrieval using the selection mechanism (via the -selec-
       tion  CLIPBOARD  option).   In  order  to copy data into the clipboard,
       clipboard clear must be called, followed by a sequence of one  or  more
       calls  to  clipboard  append.   To ensure that the clipboard is updated
       atomically, all appends should be completed  before  returning  to  the
       event loop.

       The  first  argument  to clipboard determines the format of the rest of
       the arguments and the behavior of the command.  The following forms are
       currently supported:

       clipboard append ?-displayof window? ?-format format? ?-type type? ?--?
              Appends data to the clipboard on window's display  in  the  form
              given by type with the representation given by format and claims
              ownership of the clipboard on window's display.

              Type specifies the form in which the selection is to be returned
              (the desired "target" for conversion, in ICCCM terminology), and
              should be an atom name such as  STRING  or  FILE_NAME;  see  the
              Inter-Client   Communication  Conventions  Manual  for  complete
              details.  Type defaults to STRING.

              The format argument specifies the representation that should  be
              used to transmit the selection to the requester (the second col-
              umn of Table 2 of the ICCCM), and defaults to STRING.  If format
              is  STRING,  the selection is transmitted as 8-bit ASCII charac-
              ters.  If format is ATOM, then the data is divided  into  fields
              separated  by  white  space; each field is converted to its atom
              value, and the 32-bit atom value is transmitted instead  of  the
              atom  name.   For any other format,  data is divided into fields
              separated by white space and each field is converted to a 32-bit
              integer;  an  array  of integers is transmitted to the selection
              requester.  Note that strings passed  to  clipboard  append  are
              concatenated  before conversion, so the caller must take care to
              ensure appropriate spacing across string boundaries.  All  items
              appended  to the clipboard with the same type must have the same

              The format argument is needed only for compatibility with  clip-
              board requesters that do not use Tk.  If the Tk toolkit is being
              used to retrieve the CLIPBOARD selection then the value is  con-
              verted  back  to  a  string  at the requesting end, so format is

              A -- argument may be specified to mark the end of options:   the
              next  argument will always be used as data.  This feature may be
              convenient if, for example, data starts with a -.

       clipboard clear ?-displayof window?
              Claims ownership  of  the  clipboard  on  window's  display  and
              removes any previous contents.  Window defaults to ".".  Returns
              an empty string.

       clipboard get ?-displayof window? ?-type type?
              Retrieve data from the clipboard on  window's  display.   Window
              defaults  to  ".".  Type specifies the form in which the data is
              to be returned and should be an atom  name  such  as  STRING  or
              FILE_NAME.  Type defaults to STRING.  This command is equivalent
              to "selection get -selection CLIPBOARD".

              Note that on  modern  X11  systems,  the  most  useful  type  to
              retrieve  for  transferred  strings  is  not  STRING, but rather

       Get the current contents of the clipboard.
              if {[catch {clipboard get} contents]} {
                  # There were no clipboard contents at all

       Set the clipboard to contain a fixed string.
              clipboard clear
              clipboard append "some fixed string"

       You can put custom data into the clipboard  by  using  a  custom  -type
       option.  This  is not necessarily portable, but can be very useful. The
       method of passing Tcl scripts this way  is  effective,  but  should  be
       mixed with safe interpreters in production code.
              # This is a very simple canvas serializer;
              # it produces a script that recreates the item(s) when executed
              proc getItemConfig {canvas tag} {
                 set script {}
                 foreach item [$canvas find withtag $tag] {
                    append script {$canvas create } [$canvas type $item]
                    append script { } [$canvas coords $item] { }
                    foreach config [$canvas itemconf $item] {
                       lassign $config name - - - value
                       append script [list $name $value] { }
                    append script \n
                 return [string trim $script]

              # Set up a binding on a canvas to cut and paste an item
              set c [canvas .c]
              pack $c
              $c create text 150 30 -text "cut and paste me"
              bind $c <<Cut>> {
                 clipboard clear
                 clipboard append -type TkCanvasItem \
                       [getItemConfig %W current]
                 # Delete because this is cut, not copy.
                 %W delete current
              bind $c <<Paste>> {
                 catch {
                    set canvas %W
                    eval [clipboard get -type TkCanvasItem]

       See attributes(7) for descriptions of the following attributes:

       |Availability   | runtime/tk-8     |
       |Stability      | Uncommitted      |

       interp(n), selection(n)

       clear, format, clipboard, append, selection, type

       Source  code  for open source software components in Oracle Solaris can
       be found at https://www.oracle.com/downloads/opensource/solaris-source-

       This     software     was    built    from    source    available    at
       https://github.com/oracle/solaris-userland.   The  original   community
       source        was        downloaded        from         https://source-

       Further information about this software can be found on the open source
       community website at https://www.tcl.tk/.

Tk                                    8.4                        clipboard(1t)