Understanding the Complexity of the Windows Clipboard

September 29, 2011

A few months ago I wrote about using the Paste Special command to get more control over the format of data being pasted. In the last few days I’ve had some communication with the folks at Corel and they provided some insight into how data is passed across the clipboard. It may help you to understand and so I’m going to pass the information along.

If you are working in CorelDRAW and copy vector data to the clipboard, the data will be stored in both CDR and CMX formats. These are the internal working formats for CorelDRAW (the CMX makes pasting into Corel PHOTO-PAINT easier). They also put a little sticky note up there saying that other formats are available if needed. OK, it isn’t really a sticky note, but you get the idea.

Now let’s suppose you are in Microsoft Word and you do a Paste Special. The dialog box that appears lists the formats that are available (from that pseudo sticky note). The first one listed will be a CorelDRAW Object and that is the CDR/CMX data that already exists on the clipboard. Should you choose WMF (or EMF or bitmap), Microsoft Word will then ask CorelDRAW to actually create the WMF (or EMF or bitmap) data. There may be a few seconds delay while the data is rendered in the desired format.

You may be asking why Corel doesn’t put all the formats up there immediately. They could certainly do that, but the process of copying to the clipboard would take much longer initially. Now the delay only occurs if you choose a format that isn’t already there. By putting all formats up there at once, it also would take up more memory.

Will this speed up your workflow in CorelDRAW? Most likely not. I always enjoy learning a bit more about how things work behind the scenes. Sometimes that extra knowledge can lead me to a faster way of accomplishing a task.

Post Discussion


  1. PaulANormanNZ

    Hi Foster,

    I was wondering please, did they ever provide a list at all of the formats in CF_ style at all for Draw or Paint please?

    I would like to use them with Ditto an opensource clipboard utility http://ditto-cp.sourceforge.net/


  2. Foster D. Coburn III

    Paul, since I have no idea what you mean by CF_style, I really can’t answer if “they” provided a list.


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Foster D. Coburn III

Foster D. Coburn III is author of 13 best-selling books on CorelDRAW and has been a contributor to numerous technology and graphics-related magazines. Foster has taken many projects, including this Web site, from the early design stage through to a finished piece. He has been a featured speaker at many graphics conferences. His first Web site was built in 1995 and he has been working exclusively in WordPress since 2013.

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