Microsoft Clip Layer Brings Better Copy and Share Functionality to Android

Posted on November 30, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Mobile, Android with 8 Comments

Microsoft Clip Layer Brings Better Copy and Share Functionality to Android

A new Microsoft Garage project called Clip Layer promises to make it easier for Android users to “snip and share” almost anything that appears on their screen.

“Like a lot of people, my phone is the center of my life,” says Steve Won, a senior designer on Microsoft’s Office team and the creator of Clip Layer (as well as Hub Keyboard, another excellent and related Garage app). “I like to share what I’ve seen and I noticed a couple of problems unique to consuming on a smartphone.”

Clip Layer installs as an “assist” or “device assistance” app on Android, and it provides what Microsoft calls an invisible layer over the screen that lets you select anything on-screen and then copy it to the clipboard, save it to Wunderlist, or email or share it with another app.


To work its magic, Clip Layer needs to hijack the long-press on Home button gesture, which is how Google Assistant launches on my Pixel XL. Hopefully, a future version will let you trigger this functionality using a different gesture. (On my Nexus 6P, the underlying Google app works a bit differently and tries to perform what’s called a screen search when I long-press on the Home button.)


Assuming you’re OK with that, Clip Layer is pretty impressive, especially for anyone who has tried to use the terrible Android text selector before: It highlights each textual and graphical element on-screen so you can just tap each to select the ones you wish to copy or share. (You can’t just copy or share the whole screen, however. But the usual Android shortcut for screen capture—Power + Volume Up on the Pixel—still works.)

Sharing a clip via email.

Sharing a clip via email.

And because Clip Layer works over any screen, Microsoft claims that it can capture anything, even those screens that typically prevent copying.

This is pretty impressive.

You can download Clip Layer—it’s free, of course—from the Google Play Store.


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Comments (8)

8 responses to “Microsoft Clip Layer Brings Better Copy and Share Functionality to Android”

  1. 5496

    Clippy is back from the dead.

    Come one, the developer should have made the logo, clippy.

  2. 8741

    Hijacking the Google Assistant is a dumb idea. They should have hijacked the long-press gesture. Nobody is going to prefer this over using Google Assistant. The utility of the Assistant far outweighs a copy and paste implementation.

  3. 165

    Great app.

    bad icon.

  4. 4370

    Impossible to install... Maybe it requires Android 6.0 or above?

  5. 834

    Very nice. I've used it multiple times already today. Thanks Paul!

  6. 2968

    Awesome app thus far, hoping they add functionality such as selecting only part of the screen to screenshot. Would be an awesome addition to the features in this app. And maybe even drawing on the screenshot.

  7. 61

    Is there an alternative to the home button long press to bring up Assistant (other than the "OK Google" voice command)?  I wanted to put an icon for the Assistant on the home screen, but couldn't find a way to do that.  Note that I am fairly new to Android and the Pixel XL (my Nokia Icon finally had hardware issues). 

  8. 289

    Too bad you can't activate via gesture. I just tried that with Nova Launcher and it just opens the Clip Layer app, it doesn't bring up the on-screen overlay where the magic happens.