tinyclipboard / v16.01

Tree @v16.01 (Download .tar.gz)


tinyclipboard is a cross-platform C library for accessing the operating system’s clipboard. It is intended to be as standalone as possible and not depend on any external libraries except those absolutely required for clipboard access (e.g. libX11 for X servers). Especially it is independant from any large GUI toolkit libraries.

tinyclipboard gives access to read and write text strings from and to the clipboard. Images and other nontextual data formats are not supported.

The library puts a strong focus on UTF-8 text. Any string you retrieve from the clipboard will be returned to you in UTF-8, and any string you pass is expected to be encoded in UTF-8. Under the hood, tinyclipboard takes care of converting the UTF-8 string into the encoding used by the underlying clipboard system.

Supported systems

These operating systems and graphics stacks are supported currently:


You can build and use the tinyclipboard library in one of three ways:

  1. Compile and use it as a static library as part of your project (recommended)
  2. Compile and use it directly in your project
  3. Compile and use it as a dynamic library

The tinyclipboard library consists of one header file and one C sourcecode file. It is recommended to build tinyclipboard as part of your project and link it into your executable as a static library (option 1 above). Since it is such a small library, you might also consider to simply drop the two files directly into your project without a separate library step (option 2, see below for more information). Finally, tinyclipboard’s Makefile also builds a dynamic library (option 3).

To build the static and dynamic library files, issue

$ make

in the project directory. You will be left with both a .a file (static library) and a .so file (dynamic library) in the project root directory.

If you wish to install the tinyclipboard library to your system instead of building it as part of your project, you can issue the usual

$ make install

command. The install task understands the usual PREFIX and DESTDIR variables in case you need them.

If you want to build the tinyclipboard library as part of your project, simply drop the header and C source code file into your source tree and have your preferred build system compile and link them in. The only thing to consider here is that you need to link in libX11 (-lX11) when you build your program for an X11 system. If you are building an application with a graphical user interface, chances are high that you need to link in libX11 anyawy.


There are some examples of use provided in the examples/ directory in the source tree. To build them, issue one of:

$ make examples_x11   # X11 systems
$ make examples_win32 # Windows systems

in the toplevel directory. The different commands are to accomodate the different linking needs (X11 systems need -lX11 to be linked in).


The tinyclipboard library provides three main functions:

For version information, the tiny_clipversion() function is available.

Minimal example of how to read from the clipboard:

#include <stdlib.h>
#include <stdio.h>
#include <tinyclipboard.h>

int main()
  char* str = tiny_clipread(NULL);
  if (str) {
    printf("The clipboard contains: '%s'\n", str);
  else {
    printf("No text in clipboard.\n");

  return 0;

Writing is a little more difficult especially on X11 systems. Refer to the tiny_clipwrite(3) and tiny_clipnwrite(3) manpages.


Full and detailed documentation of the functions provided by the tinyclipboard library is available in form of manpages in the man/ directory of the source tree. Each function is described in detail, usually with examples.

Contact information

The tinyclipboard library was written by Marvin Gülker

If you find any bugs or want to contribute to the tinyclipboard library, feel free to contact me under this email address.


For normal use, I offer the tinyclipboard library under the terms of the GNU GPLv3+ license. For other licensing options, please contact me under the email address mentioned above.

GPL statement

tinyclipboard is a cross-platform clipboard library written in C. Copyright © 2016 Marvin Gülker

This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program. If not, see