Click here to Skip to main content
Click here to Skip to main content

Clipboard Copy in a Nutshell

, 25 Nov 1999 CPOL
Rate this:
Please Sign up or sign in to vote.
Clipboard copy in a nutshell.

Supporting copy is usually straightforward for most applications. It usually requires 10-20 lines of code. But like many features of MFC, the implementation is simple. However, finding the information needed to create the implementation is tedious and time consuming. To save you many hours of reading documentation, I have included several common methods for placing data on the clipboard.

Copying a Bitmap of the Client Area

The following bit of code renders the client area using OnDraw() into a bitmap. The bitmap is placed on the clipboard as a CF_BITMAP that is recognizable by most applications that accept bitmaps. This code will work will all mapping modes provided that mapping mode is set in the OnPrepareDC() function.

void CXStitchView::OnEditCopy() 
    CRect       rect;
    CClientDC   dc(this);
    CDC         memDC;
    CBitmap     bitmap;

    // Create memDC
    bitmap.CreateCompatibleBitmap(&dc, rect.Width(), rect.Height());
    CBitmap* pOldBitmap = memDC.SelectObject(&bitmap);

    // Fill in memDC
    memDC.FillSolidRect(rect, dc.GetBkColor()); 

    // Copy contents of memDC to clipboard
    SetClipboardData(CF_BITMAP, bitmap.GetSafeHandle());

    // Clean up

Copying a Table of Data to the Clipboard

Placing a table of data on the clipboard is easy. It is simply a string of text. Tabs separate columns, new lines separate rows. Here's some example source.

#include <afxpriv.h>

void CClipExamView::OnEditCopy() 
    // Create a shared memory file

    // Place clipboard data in the shared memory file

    if (sf.GetLength() > 0) {
        // Put the data on the clipboard
        SetClipboardData(CF_TEXT, sf.Detach());

void CClipExamView::RenderTableData(CFile &file)
    // Columns are separated by tabs ('\t')
    // Rows are separated by new lines ('\n')
    CString buffer = "1\t2\t3\n4\t5\t6\n";
    file.Write(buffer, buffer.GetLength()); 

Copying Formatted Data to the Clipboard

Formatted text can support bold, italic or any other formatting that can be done in a word processor. Formatted text is usually placed on the clipboard as RTF (Rich Text Format).

The Rich Text Format is intended as an interchange format for Word-processing applications. Because of that, it is a rather large and feature rich file format. Fortunately, it is possible to describe a minimal RTF command set for creating simple formatted documents.

Basic RTF commands:

\par - Starts a new paragraph. 
\tab - A tab. 
\b - Enable Bold (scoped within a group) 
\i - Enable Italics (scoped within a group) 
\ul - Enable Underline (scoped within a group)

For example, the RTF string:

{\rtf1 {1 \tab 2 \tab 3 \par 4 \tab {\b\i 5} \tab 6}}


#include <afxpriv.h>

void CClipExamView::OnEditCopy() 
    // Create a shared memory file

    // Place clipboard data in the shared memory file

    if (sf.GetLength() > 0) {
        // Put the data on the clipboard
        SetClipboardData(::RegisterClipboardFormat(CF_RTF), sf.Detach());

void CClipExamView::RenderFormattedData(CFile &file)
    // RTF (Rich Text Format) - Don't forget to escape
    // the \ character in your C strings!
    CString buffer = "{\\rtf1 {1 \\tab 2 \\tab 3" 
               " \\par 4 \\tab {\\b\\i 5} \\tab 6}}";
    file.Write(buffer, buffer.GetLength()); 

Getting More Info on RTF

Most books on file format address RTF in some form. You can find the RTF specification here.

Virtually all word processors can save RTF files. This is usually a good place to start when building an RTF template.


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


About the Author

Keith Rule
Software Developer (Senior)
United States United States
I work at Tektronix in Beaverton OR. I've been programming for fun since 1975 (I started while in a Computer Explorer Scout group in Spokane WA). I've been programming in C since 1979 and I've been working professionally since 1983.
I really enjoy It has saved me an incredible amount of time. I only hope my small contributions have given back some of what I've taken.

Comments and Discussions

GeneralClipboard Data Store Pinmembereg_Anubhava5-May-10 22:55 
Questioncopy tabular data (text and images) to clipboard? PinmemberNachtalb16-May-08 0:13 
Questionplease can you help me to copy file? Pinmemberyummy_yummy19-Aug-06 1:45 
GeneralClipboard Query. PinmemberHakuna-Matada3-Aug-06 2:44 
GeneralA little additon PinmemberAlexSr7-Dec-04 2:13 
GeneralThanx, Good Work PinmemberBugSearcher13-Sep-04 1:09 
Generalquestion PinsussAnonymous21-Dec-02 20:19 
Generalcatching the CTRL+V PinsussM.A.18-Dec-02 11:12 
I wrote a little clipboard application and I want that every time
a CTRL+V is pressed to perform some action in my application that will
affect the data in the clipboard, repost it to the clipboard and display
it on the screen.
lets say, that I did CTRL+C on "hello" and now pressed CTRL+V.
my application will convert to upercase "HELLO" and I want it pasted
on screen (of course without the smallercase "hello")
I have talked to people who said maybe catching an interrupt of CTRL+V
and creating one after manipulation - but, can I make sure my CTRL+V
interrupt is done before it is pasted by the OS on the screen ?
if so, how do I catch and throw such an interrupt ?
thank you in advance,
Generalconvert clipboard data to bytes PinsussAnonymous31-Jul-02 8:19 
GeneralWord file PinmemberLai The Thoi27-Jan-02 22:42 
QuestionHow can I disable copy to clipboard PinmemberAnonymous22-Aug-01 1:17 
AnswerRe: How can I disable copy to clipboard PinsussAnonymous22-Apr-04 1:56 
GeneralMultiple PinmemberKonstantin S. Diguine6-Apr-01 5:02 
GeneralCXStitchView PinmemberAlexMarbus2-Mar-01 11:11 
GeneralRe: CXStitchView PinmemberKeith5-Mar-01 13:42 
GeneralRe: CXStitchView PinmemberAlexMarbus5-Mar-01 13:45 
QuestionHow can I... PinmemberBernd Giesen1-Dec-00 1:10 
AnswerRe: How can I... PinmemberCraig Henderson14-Dec-00 6:41 

General General    News News    Suggestion Suggestion    Question Question    Bug Bug    Answer Answer    Joke Joke    Rant Rant    Admin Admin   

Use Ctrl+Left/Right to switch messages, Ctrl+Up/Down to switch threads, Ctrl+Shift+Left/Right to switch pages.

| Advertise | Privacy | Terms of Use | Mobile
Web01 | 2.8.150327.1 | Last Updated 26 Nov 1999
Article Copyright 1999 by Keith Rule
Everything else Copyright © CodeProject, 1999-2015
Layout: fixed | fluid