Currently, Chrome and Edge only allow users to copy a small selection of common file formats between the web and desktop applications, including jpg, png, HTML and a few others.
New Pickle Clipboard APIs, however, could soon extend compatibility to a number of niche and proprietary file types, such as .docx (used in Microsoft Word) and TIFF (an image format popular for graphic design).
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If adopted by developers, the new APIs could create a scenario whereby users can freely copy files between progressive web apps (PWAs) and software installed on Windows, macOS and mobile platforms.
For instance, Windows users could copy documents to the clipboard via File Explorer and paste them straight into the Google Docs web app without encountering any compatibility issues.
According to design documents reviewed by WindowsLatest, the Pickle Clipboard APIs will also allow developers to create custom clipboard formats and offer “fine-grained control” over the copy-and-paste function.
The copy-and-paste feature may seem insignificant at face value, but actually plays a central role in many aspects of the computing and web browsing experience. And this is by no means Microsoft’s first attempt to streamline the feature in recent months, across both Windows 10 and Edge.
In August, Microsoft unveiled a new Windows 10 clipboard with a dedicated panel for multimedia content, such as emojis and GIFs. This upgrade also extended the clipboard history function to include images and HTML content, as well as text.
Later in the year, Microsoft announced improvements to the Cloud Clipboard utility, which allows users to copy-and-paste items across multiple devices. Instead of synchronizing clipboard content across Windows 10 devices exclusively, users of the Microsoft-owned SwiftKey Keyboard for Android can also now take advantage of the tool.
Microsoft Edge, meanwhile, recently received a Link Format option that lets users paste web content as plain text, overriding any unwanted formatting.
A new feature called Shared Links is also currently undergoing testing. Once live, this feature will give users access to a searchable history page, making it easier to re-find content they have copied and shared.
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Joel Khalili is the News and Features Editor at TechRadar Pro, covering cybersecurity, data privacy, cloud, AI, blockchain, internet infrastructure, 5G, data storage and computing. He's responsible for curating our news content, as well as commissioning and producing features on the technologies that are transforming the way the world does business.