Making the clipboard usable

When I was a kid, I didn’t know what the icon with the scissors did. I didn’t know what the icon with the two papers did. Even after I learned what copying and pasting is, even after I knew the common “Ctrl+C”, “Ctrl+X”, and “Ctrl+V” shortcuts, I still didn’t know what those scissor and paper icons did. I once mistook the scissor icon for the “Crop” button and was surprised when the whole image disappeared.

I wonder if anyone out there ever found the two clipboard icons intuitive. What do scissors have to do with the clipboard, anyway?

Being a stickler for consistency and clarity, I set out to make a more usable set of clipboard icons. My goal was to connect the clipboard icons visually, so that anyone could quickly tell that the icons belong together. I also wanted to make the functionality obvious: I used the standard “move” and “copy” symbols, as cutting is simply moving to the clipboard and copying is copying to the clipboard.

Can you tell which one is Cut and which one is Copy?

5 thoughts on “Making the clipboard usable

  1. From left to right: cut & copy. OTOH, are these icons needed at all? Aren’t they just cluttering the icon bar, as everyone uses keyboard shotcuts instead?

  2. Michal Jasinski
    you would be suprised how many people still use the icons and or menu short cuts. I still find nerds useing them. its a facepalm moment.

  3. I think “move” should have the arrow facing outwards.

    Also scissors are for cutting, this is obvious for me. Only “two papers” for duplicating can be unintuitive. But “move” for copying is also unintuitive. And “copy” symbol can be mistaken with the “add new”, since it uses “+”.

    Now I have noticed that this is clipboard, not a paper, and it makes sense. “Move” moves selected thing to the clipboard (and inward arrow is correct), while “duplicate” adds its copy to the clipboard, pretty logical. But the fact that this is a clipboard isn’t obvious for me. In Polish “clipboard” in computing is translated as “schowek” (a place for putting things in/hiding them), so in some countries it will be even less obvious.

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