Is it normal that text in the clipboard gets lost?

Kevin Krammer krammer at
Wed Jun 5 19:47:49 BST 2013

On Wednesday, 2013-06-05, Nikos Chantziaras wrote:
> On 05/06/13 20:40, Kevin Krammer wrote:
> > On Wednesday, 2013-06-05, Nikos Chantziaras wrote:
> >> There's something that always bugged me a bit with the clipboard.  I
> >> don't know whether it's a bug or intended behavior.  It goes like this:
> >> when I open an application, select some text in it, then copy it to the
> >> clipboard with Ctrl+C, then close the application and finally try to
> >> paste the text from the clipboard into somewhere else, there's nothing
> >> to copy.  At the moment I closed the application I copied the text from,
> >> the clipboard contents die.
> >> 
> >> This is surprising, since "copying to the clipboard", at least on every
> >> other OS I'm using, really means "copying".  Even if the application the
> >> text came from goes away, the copied text is still in the clipboard.  Is
> >> this a bug?
> > 
> > Sounds like your session is not running klipper.
> Hm, indeed.  I didn't even know that this is required.  I had disabled
> klipper long time ago, because it puts an icon in the systray, which is
> very annoying.  I suppose there's no way to tell it not to do that?

This is configurable in the systray applet.

Just to clarify why Klipper is needed for the behavior described above:
clipboard operations, like drag&drop, allow source applications to announce 
their content in multiple formats.
The target application can query those formats and select the one it is most 
happy with. The source application then provides the data in said format.

For example consider copying some content of a webpage. The browser can offer 
this as plain text and very likely also as HTML. A target like a shell can 
request the content as plain text, a target like a word processor with HTML 
import capabilties can request the content as HTML and retain formatting, etc.

Naturally we don't want source applications to provide all possible formats 
upfront, e.g. there might not be a paste at all or there could be a lot of 
data (imagine an image being made available in all supported formats).

So when the source application exits without anyone having requested any data, 
the data is gone. Tools like Klipper therefore request some data and "become 
the source" if the actual source exits. Of course this is limited to a small 
number of formats, such as plain text.

Kevin Krammer, KDE developer, xdg-utils developer
KDE user support, developer mentoring
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