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For the most part, a Mac App runs in isolation. It doesn’t care about what other applications are doing—it’s concerned only with its own model layer, windows, documents, etc. However, there are two common scenarios when it does need to communicate with other apps:
- When copying or pasting data from another application
- When the user drags and drops an item from another application
OS X provides a pasteboard to enable this kind of inter-app communication. The pasteboard serves as a common storage facility that is accessible by all applications. To share some data, you simply write it to the pasteboard. Any other app can then retrieve this data by reading it from the pasteboard. The whole process is sort of like saving a file to disk and opening it in another application, but there are no actual files involved.
In this chapter, we’ll learn how to use Cocoa’s pasteboard API to implement custom copy-and-paste and drag-and-drop behavior.
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