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How to: Add Data to the Clipboard

The Clipboard class provides methods that you can use to interact with the Windows operating system Clipboard feature. Many applications use the Clipboard as a temporary repository for data. For example, word processors use the Clipboard during cut-and-paste operations. The Clipboard is also useful for transferring data from one application to another.

When you add data to the Clipboard, you can indicate the data format so that other applications can recognize the data if they can use that format. You can also add data to the Clipboard in multiple different formats to increase the number of other applications that can potentially use the data.

A Clipboard format is a string that identifies the format so that an application that uses that format can retrieve the associated data. The DataFormats class provides predefined format names for your use. You can also use your own format names or use the type of an object as its format.

To add data to the Clipboard in one or multiple formats, use the SetDataObject method. You can pass any object to this method, but to add data in multiple formats, you must first add the data to a separate object designed to work with multiple formats. Typically, you will add your data to a DataObject, but you can use any type that implements the IDataObject interface.

In .NET Framework 2.0, you can add data directly to the Clipboard by using new methods designed to make basic Clipboard tasks easier. Use these methods when you work with data in a single, common format such as text.

Note Note

All Windows-based applications share the Clipboard. Therefore, the contents are subject to change when you switch to another application.

The Clipboard class can only be used in threads set to single thread apartment (STA) mode. To use this class, ensure that your Main method is marked with the STAThreadAttribute attribute.

An object must be serializable for it to be put on the Clipboard. To make a type serializable, mark it with the SerializableAttribute attribute. If you pass a non-serializable object to a Clipboard method, the method will fail without throwing an exception. For more information about serialization, see System.Runtime.Serialization.

To add data to the Clipboard in a single, common format

  • Use the SetAudio, SetFileDropList, SetImage, or SetText method. These methods are available only in .NET Framework 2.0.

    ' Demonstrates SetAudio, ContainsAudio, and GetAudioStream. 
    Public Function SwapClipboardAudio( _
        ByVal replacementAudioStream As System.IO.Stream) _
        As System.IO.Stream
    
        Dim returnAudioStream As System.IO.Stream = Nothing 
    
        If (Clipboard.ContainsAudio()) Then
            returnAudioStream = Clipboard.GetAudioStream()
            Clipboard.SetAudio(replacementAudioStream)
        End If 
    
        Return returnAudioStream
    
    End Function 
    
    ' Demonstrates SetFileDropList, ContainsFileDroList, and GetFileDropList 
    Public Function SwapClipboardFileDropList(ByVal replacementList _
        As System.Collections.Specialized.StringCollection) _
        As System.Collections.Specialized.StringCollection
    
        Dim returnList As System.Collections.Specialized.StringCollection _
            = Nothing 
    
        If Clipboard.ContainsFileDropList() Then
    
            returnList = Clipboard.GetFileDropList()
            Clipboard.SetFileDropList(replacementList)
        End If 
    
        Return returnList
    
    End Function 
    
    ' Demonstrates SetImage, ContainsImage, and GetImage. 
    Public Function SwapClipboardImage( _
        ByVal replacementImage As System.Drawing.Image) _
        As System.Drawing.Image
    
        Dim returnImage As System.Drawing.Image = Nothing 
    
        If Clipboard.ContainsImage() Then
            returnImage = Clipboard.GetImage()
            Clipboard.SetImage(replacementImage)
        End If 
    
        Return returnImage
    End Function 
    
    ' Demonstrates SetText, ContainsText, and GetText. 
    Public Function SwapClipboardHtmlText( _
        ByVal replacementHtmlText As String) As String 
    
        Dim returnHtmlText As String = Nothing 
    
        If (Clipboard.ContainsText(TextDataFormat.Html)) Then
            returnHtmlText = Clipboard.GetText(TextDataFormat.Html)
            Clipboard.SetText(replacementHtmlText, TextDataFormat.Html)
        End If 
    
        Return returnHtmlText
    
    End Function
    

To add data to the Clipboard in a custom format

  • Use the SetData method with a custom format name. This method is available only in .NET Framework 2.0.

    You can also use predefined format names with the SetData method. For more information, see DataFormats.

    ' Demonstrates SetData, ContainsData, and GetData 
    ' using a custom format name and a business object. 
    Public ReadOnly Property TestCustomFormat() As Customer
        Get
            Clipboard.SetData("CustomerFormat", New Customer("Customer Name"))
    
            If Clipboard.ContainsData("CustomerFormat") Then 
                Return CType(Clipboard.GetData("CustomerFormat"), Customer)
            End If 
    
            Return Nothing 
        End Get 
    End Property
    
    
    ...
    
    
    <Serializable()> Public Class Customer
    
        Private nameValue As String = String.Empty
    
        Public Sub New(ByVal name As String)
            nameValue = name
        End Sub 
    
        Public Property Name() As String 
            Get 
                Return nameValue
            End Get 
            Set(ByVal value As String)
                nameValue = value
            End Set 
        End Property 
    
    End Class
    

To add data to the Clipboard in multiple formats

  • Use the SetDataObject method and pass in a DataObject that contains your data. You must use this method to add data to the Clipboard on versions earlier than .NET Framework 2.0.

    ' Demonstrates how to use a DataObject to add 
    ' data to the Clipboard in multiple formats. 
    Public Sub TestClipboardMultipleFormats()
    
        Dim data As New DataObject()
    
        ' Add a Customer object using the type as the format.
        data.SetData(New Customer("Customer as Customer object"))
    
        ' Add a ListViewItem object using a custom format name.
        data.SetData("CustomFormat", _
            New ListViewItem("Customer as ListViewItem"))
    
        Clipboard.SetDataObject(data)
        Dim retrievedData As DataObject = _
            CType(Clipboard.GetDataObject(), DataObject)
    
        If (retrievedData.GetDataPresent("CustomFormat")) Then 
    
            Dim item As ListViewItem = _
                TryCast(retrievedData.GetData("CustomFormat"), ListViewItem)
    
            If item IsNot Nothing Then
                MessageBox.Show(item.Text)
            End If 
    
        End If 
    
        If retrievedData.GetDataPresent(GetType(Customer)) Then 
    
            Dim customer As Customer = _
                CType(retrievedData.GetData(GetType(Customer)), Customer)
    
            If customer IsNot Nothing Then
    
                MessageBox.Show(customer.Name)
            End If 
    
        End If 
    
    End Sub
    
    
    ...
    
    
    <Serializable()> Public Class Customer
    
        Private nameValue As String = String.Empty
    
        Public Sub New(ByVal name As String)
            nameValue = name
        End Sub 
    
        Public Property Name() As String 
            Get 
                Return nameValue
            End Get 
            Set(ByVal value As String)
                nameValue = value
            End Set 
        End Property 
    
    End Class
    
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