No matter which phone you use, you must have gotten fond of the Clipboard which lets you copy and paste content from one app to the other. On iPhones, the native Clipboard function can not only copy texts but also store images and paste them onto some other app.
The Clipboard function on iOS should be used for temporary copying and pasting of data between different apps on your phone. But did you know that your iPhone retains the recent-most copied content until you copy the next text and that any app can gain access to it without asking?
In this post, we’ll explain why you should clear your iPhone’s Clipboard from time to time, and how you can do it in iOS 14.
Why should you clear your iPhone’s Clipboard frequently?
Prior to the release of iOS 14, if you were an iPhone user, you wouldn’t know when an app tries to read the contents of their device’s clipboard. Data researchers found that many apps including TikTok, Reuters, and PUBG Mobile grab data from your clipboard in different versions of iOS, the latest one included.
When you copy a text, link, log-in credentials, or anything else from an app or a website while using your iPhone, the copied item gets stored on your clipboard. Any app that’s installed on your iPhone has unrestricted access to your clipboard, meaning they can read the information that you copied without you letting them.
Thanks to iOS 14, we have come to know the extent of damage that clipboard snooping can do to your data. When an app gains access or reads your clipboard, you’re shown a banner at the top of your iPhone screen saying “<This app> pasted from <another app>”.
It’s how the copied piece of information is used that seems concerning as researchers believe that this data could either be something that’s totally ignored or could result in potential snooping.
If you’re someone who often copies sensitive information like usernames, passwords, PINs, addresses, etc., then it’s important that you clear the clipboard regularly before any unwanted app tried to read the copied information.
Can you stop iOS apps from accessing your Clipboard?
To this date, access to the clipboard on iOS doesn’t require app permissions. This means, there’s no way you can stop an app on your iPhone from gaining access to your device’s clipboard. While there’s no way to tell whether an app is getting access to your clipboard intentionally or not, a bigger issue is what is being done to the data that the apps are collecting from you.
Since there’s no clear way to whether an app is reading your clipboard for the right reasons or wrong, your only solution in this matter is to choose the apps you install on your phone wisely. iOS 14 still lacks an option to allow or disallow an app to access your clipboard. So, if you’re concerned or suspicious of an app trying to grab your clipboard content, you should uninstall it from your iPhone as soon as you can.
How to Clear the Clipboard in iOS
Even though iOS 14 started notifying users every time an app on their iPhone accessed the clipboard, there’s no official way to stop an app from pasting the contents of your clipboard. iOS doesn’t have an option for limiting clipboard access inside its Privacy settings.
So, if you wish to protect your information and sensitive details that you copied onto your clipboard without uninstalling the apps you regularly use, you should clear your iPhone’s clipboard as often as you can. Apple is yet to provide an easy way to clear your clipboard but Reddit user SpamSencer has created an iOS Shortcut – “Clear Clipboard”, that you can use to remove the contents of your clipboard and thus prevent an app from getting access to a previously copied info.
The Clear Clipboard shortcut can be added to Shortcuts app by visiting this link and when you reach this page on your iPhone’s Safari browser, you can tap on ‘Get Shortcut’ to load it inside the Shortcuts app.
This should open the “Clear Clipboard” shortcut on your iPhone which copies a <space> onto your clipboard when you tap on the shortcut.
If you see a “”Clear Clipboard”Can’t be Opened” dialog appear on your screen, it probably means that you’re yet to install a shortcut from an untrusted source.
To get this sorted, you will need to open the Settings app, go to Shortcuts, and then enable the ‘Allow Untrusted Shortcuts’ toggle under ‘Sharing Security’.
To confirm this process, tap on the ‘Allow’ option in the dialog that appears on your screen.
When you enable this option, you will be asked to enter your iPhone’s passcode. After the ‘Allow Untrusted Shortcuts’ option has been enabled, go back to the “Clear Clipboard” web page and add it to your Shortcuts app on your iOS device. This should open the Shortcuts app and load the “Clear Clipboard” on your screen.
To add the “Clear Clipboard” shortcut, scroll down on the screen, and tap on the ‘Add Untrusted Shortcut’ button at the bottom.
“Clear Clipboard” will now be listed as one of the options available in the Shortcuts app on your iPhone.
To add this shortcut to your iOS Home Screen, select the shortcut, and tap on the Share icon at the bottom.
Select the ‘Add to Home Screen’ option from the share tray.
On the next screen, tap on the ‘Add’ button at the top right corner.
The “Clear Clipboard” shortcut will be available for access inside your iPhone’s Home Screen. You can tap on this shortcut icon every time you wish to clear the contents of your clipboard at which point, the Shortcuts will replace the clipboard texts with empty spaces.
We tested this, by first using the “Clear Clipboard” shortcut and then pasting the clipboard onto an app. As is evident in this screenshot, the shortcut replaces the previously copied text with black spaces to avoid unwanted apps from gaining your clipboard data.
You can use the “Clear Clipboard” shortcut from time to time to protect your clipboard info and keep your sensitive details from getting exploited.
What else can you do?
If you don’t wish to use the “Clear Clipboard” shortcut, you can manually type blank spaces on any app and copy them to your clipboard to protect your clipboard data. You can also copy random words from any app or webpage to replace your previously saved clipboard data because apps can only access the recent-most clipboard item on your iPhone and copying a random word doesn’t do any harm.
To protect your data from being breached by an app on iOS, you can follow these safe practices for safeguarding clipboard content:
- Get a clear idea of all the apps that you have installed on your iPhone.
- Is the app that’s reading your clipboard made by a trusted source/developer?
- Are you comfortable sharing your clipboard to a particular app?
- Know what info you have copied and whether the copied data is relevant to the app you’re going to use.
- Check how often is an app reading your clipboard.