Despite being a fairly easy operation, people who just started using computers and smartphones don’t know how to copy and paste. My father, for one, has always struggled with this in the beginning. 

In this article, I’ll explore the simplest ways to copy and paste on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. Let’s get started! 

How Do I Copy and Paste On Windows and Mac

Performing tasks on Windows and Mac can be so different. Although copying and pasting are generally identical on both platforms, there are some minor details that I’ll highlight on the way. 

Step 1: Highlight or Select 

Until engineers invent telepathic receptors, smart devices can’t know what you want to copy unless you highlight or select it. 

To highlight a text on any computer, move the cursor until it stands behind the first letter you want to copy. Then, from that position, left-click and drag. Don’t release until the highlight box covers all the text you want to copy. 

You can select images, files, and folders by simply left-clicking on them. 

If you want to copy more than one thing, you won’t have to do it one by one. Instead, hold the Control key (Ctrl) on windows, or the Command key (⌘) on Mac. If you have an old Mac, this button will probably have the Apple logo. While holding that button, left-click on whatever you like; the computer won’t cancel the previous selections. 

Step 2: Opening the Dropdown Menu

After selecting whatever you want, right-click inside the selection to open the dropdown menu. Make sure you’re not clicking outside the selection since this will deselect everything. 

From the dropdown menu, look for the command that says “Copy.” You should find it around the middle. After left-clicking it, your computer will make a copy of the selected item/s inside a virtual memory called “Clipboard”. 

Afterward, open the folder or the document where you want to paste your images or text. Left-click in the area you want to paste at. And right-click to open the same dropdown menu from earlier. This time, you’ll click on “Paste”. And that’s it! 

If something went wrong in that step, check the next sections for alternative methods. 

Alternative 1: Using the Menu Bar

If dropdown menus feel confusing, no worries! With your text or files selected, click on “Edit” on the menu bar — the one located on the top of the screen. 

Then, click on “Copy” to move your items to the clipboard. Go to the place where you want to paste and left-click. Next, reopen “Edit”, and select “Paste”. 

On Windows, if you can’t see the menu bar, it should appear after pressing the Alternate key (Alt) on the keyboard.

Alternative 2: Using the Keyboard Shortcuts

I kept the best for last! Ask anyone and he’ll tell you that he rarely uses the previously mentioned menus. Instead, we usually depend on the convenient keyboard shortcuts. 

Select your files or text normally. Then, on windows hold (Ctrl+C) to copy. They must be pressed together, not after each other as if you’re typing. On Mac, the same can be done by holding (⌘+C). 

To paste, go to your destination file or document and left-click where you want to paste. Then, hold (Ctrl+V) on Windows, or (⌘+V) on Mac. 

Alternative 3: The Drag-And-Drop 

If you want to move text from a file to another, you can do that without clicking on menus or buttons. 

First, open the two files side by side. Then, highlight the text you want to copy. Left-click inside the selection and drag your text into the other documents. Easy, right? 

But wait. This can’t be done with files and images. If you drag and drop a file between two windows, the computer will “move” it instead of making a copy, meaning that it will no longer be present in the original file. 

How Do I Copy and Paste on MacHow Do I Copy and Paste On iOS and Android

Now that we’ve covered computers, we can start talking about smartphones. 

Step 1: Highlight or Select 

Highlighting text on smartphones can be tricky because there’s no cursor to move. However, you can easily “summon” similar cursors whenever you need them. 

To do that, tap and hold on the text you want to copy. You don’t have to aim at the start of the sentence if this feels too hard. 

After lifting your finger, you should find two flipped cursors standing before and after the word you tapped. You can then tap and drag each cursor to include the text you want to copy. 

Pictures, folders, and files can be selected by long-tapping.

Regardless of what you’re copying, a menu should pop up after selecting your item. After tapping on “Copy”, the phone will save your item in the Clipboard. 

Step 2: Long-Tap and Paste

Go to your destination folder or document and long-tap where you want to paste. Now select “Paste” from the menu that appears. And that’s it! 

Also Read: How to Force Quit on Mac

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between copying and cutting?

We can use a quick analogy to better highlight the difference. Let’s say you have a paper that you want to send to one of your work colleagues. 

You can go to the photocopying machine to make an exact copy while leaving the original paper intact for later use. Alternatively, you can cut the important portion with a scissor and hand it down to your colleague. In that case, you’ll no longer have that information with you. 

That’s how things work on a computer. When you “Copy” something, you’ll paste a duplicate while keeping the original version in its place. “Cut”, on the other hand, will move the file itself to the specified destination.

What is the keyboard shortcut for cut and paste?

On Windows, press (Ctrl+X) to cut, then (Ctrl+V) to paste. 

On Mac, press (⌘+X) to cut, then (⌘+V) to paste. 

Final Thoughts 

I hope that this guide helped you know how to copy and paste. If you ask me, I always prefer using keyboard shortcuts. They’re easy, fast, and super convenient for everyone. 

Remember, cutting will remove the original file, while copying will keep a duplicate. 

That’s it for now. See you in another quick how-to!