Fix the Photoshop Clipboard (All Versions)

Categories Design

Situation #1: You are taking a series of screenshots and pasting them into Photoshop. Suddenly, you keep getting the same image when you paste, despite taking updated screenshots.

Situation #2: You copy an image to the clipboard from your browser, paste it into Photoshop, and all subsequent paste operations from your browser result in the same damn image.

Situation #3: You are working in Photoshop, and try to paste an image from any external program, and end up getting something you copied in Photoshop earlier.

What do these situations have in common (other than being annoying)? They're all instances of Photoshop's clipboard thinking it's smarter than you.

This problem is likely a legacy from when computers were slow and didn't have much memory (like artists flattening images to make file size smaller, but that's a discussion for another day). Contrary to any logical reason I could think of, Photoshop keeps its own clipboard data separate from the system clipboard, and monitors the system clipboard for changes. It then, for whatever reason, decides that the clipboard data hasn't changed, so why bother updating its own clipboard with redundant data?

Purging Photoshop's clipboard doesn't help; it only gives you a blank clipboard that still won't update. Of course, none of this stops Photoshop from sticking its own copied data into the system clipboard, which works 100% of the time. Sigh.

You can easily fix this by modifying the Windows registry. Past versions of Photoshop included a .reg file on the install disc that you could simply double-click. Looking on my installation media, I can't seem to find any .reg file. But, I'm lazy. For previous versions, look in
Photoshop [Version]/Goodies/Optional Plug-Ins/Photoshop Only/Optional Extensions for a file named AlwaysImportClipbd_ON.reg

Once you have taken the appropriate actions, you should restart Photoshop if it's already open. The usual warnings apply to editing the Windows registry: Make a backup, only do this if you know what you're doing, etc.

Registry key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Adobe/Photoshop/[PS Version] (Where PS Version corresponds to your installed version: 12.0 for CS5, 11.0 for CS4, 10.0 for CS3, and so on)

You will need to add a new DWORD value (on 64-bit OSes, this will be the 32-bit value) named "AlwaysImportClipboard" and set the value to 1.

Fixing the photoshop clipboard

Your new registry key should look like this.

Restart Photoshop, and that's it!

Note: I would be willing to recreate the appropriate .reg files if there is sufficient interest, or the steps above prove too complicated. Happy pasting!

Update: Never mind, this appears to do nothing at all. Photoshop still randomly stops using the clipboard, even with this registry value set.

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