How to copy and paste text in a document or other program

Updated: 08/08/2017 by Computer Hope

Note: Below is information on how to copy and paste text and not how to copy files. Also, keep in mind that when you copy you are duplicating the text. If you want only one copy of the text you want to cut and paste text.

Below is information on how you can copy and paste text from any computer device and program. We've also included keyboard shortcuts, tips, and areas where you can practice copying and pasting text on this page.

How to copy and paste text on a desktop or laptop computer

Copy 1Copying text

Highlight the text you want to copy. For example, you could highlight a word, one line, a paragraph, or all of the text in the document. Once highlighted, do any of the steps below.

Right-click the selected text and select Copy.

- OR -

Click Edit from the top file menu in the program and then click Copy

- OR -

Highlight the text and use the shortcut key Ctrl+C or Ctrl+Insert on a PC or Cmd+C on an Apple Mac.

Note: You must highlight or select something before it can be copied.

PastePasting the text

Once the above steps have been completed, the text is moved into a temporary area known as the clipboard. To paste that text, move the cursor to where you want to paste and do any of the steps below.

Right-click where you want to the text to appear and select Paste.

- OR -

Click Edit from the top file menu in the program and then click Paste

- OR -

Press the shortcut key Ctrl+V on a PC or Cmd+V on an Apple Mac.

Tip: You can paste text in the clipboard as much as you want until something else is stored in the clipboard. Also, once something is placed into the clipboard it can be copied into other documents and programs.

Note: If nothing is in the clipboard nothing can be pasted, and the Paste option is grayed out. Something must be cut or copied before it can be pasted.

Practice copying and pasting text

Example of copyingUse the two text fields below to copy (Ctrl+C or Cmd+C) the text in the first box and pasting (Ctrl+V or Cmd+V) into the second. After copying and pasting the text, you should see "Example copy text" in both boxes.


How to copy and paste text in a document

To copy and paste text in a document such as a Microsoft Word document follow the steps below.

  1. Highlight the text you want to copy.
  2. Use the shortcut key Ctrl+C on a PC or Cmd+C on an Apple Mac to copy the text.
  3. Move the text cursor to where you want to paste the text.
  4. Press the shortcut key Ctrl+V on a PC or Cmd+V on an Apple Mac to paste the text.

Practice copying and pasting text

Animated example of copy and pasteUse the two text fields below to copy (Ctrl+C or Cmd+C) the text in the first box and pasting (Ctrl+V or Cmd+V) into the second. After copying and pasting the text, you should see "Example copy text" in both boxes.


What keyboard keys are used to copy and paste?

The keyboard key shortcuts for copying and pasting all depends on the type of computer you're using. Below is a list of the most common types of computers with the shortcut keys for copy and paste. Memorizing these two keyboard shortcuts is one of the most important shortcuts to memorize since it is one of the most commonly performed action on a computer.

PC running Microsoft Windows or Linux

Copy = Ctrl+C or Ctrl+Insert
Paste = Ctrl+V or Shift+Insert

Apple Mac computer running macOS

Copy = Cmd+C
Paste = Cmd+V

Google Chrome computer

Copy = Ctrl+C
Paste = Ctrl+V

Apple iPhone and iPad with iOS

There are no keyboard shortcuts for iPhones and iPads. See our copy and paste text on an Apple iPhone and iPad steps on how to copy and paste on these device.

Google Android phone and tablet

There are no keyboard shortcuts for Google Android devices. See our copy and paste text on an Android smartphone and tablet steps for help with copying and pasting on these devices.

Practice copying and pasting text

Copy and paste animationUse the two text fields below to copy (Ctrl+C or Cmd+C) the text in the first box and pasting (Ctrl+V or Cmd+V) into the second. After copying and pasting the text, you should see "Example copy text" in both boxes.


Copy and paste in a Linux command line

Copying text

To copy text in the Linux command line, use of the following two methods below.

Highlight the text you want to copy by left-clicking with your mouse at the start of the text, then dragging your mouse to the end of the text while still pressing the left mouse button.

- OR -

Double-click on the text you want to copy to highlight the text.

Note: If there are spaces in the text you are copying, you need to use the first copy method above.

Pasting text

To paste text in the Linux command line, move the text cursor to where you want to paste the text, then right-click with your mouse. The copied text will be pasted at the cursor's position.

Copy and paste in a Linux console

Copying text

Highlight the text you want to copy. For example, you could highlight a word, one line, a paragraph, or all of the text. In the Linux console, highlighting the text should automatically copy the text to the clipboard. If the text is not automatically copied, right-click with your mouse and select Copy in the pop-up menu. You can also press Ctrl+C to copy the highlighted text.

Pasting text

To paste text in a Linux console, place the mouse cursor where you want to paste the text, then use any of the methods below.

If you have a mouse with a scroll wheel, press down on the wheel (not scroll) to paste the text.

- OR -

If you have a three button mouse, press the middle mouse button to paste the text.

- OR -

If you have a two button mouse with no scroll wheel, right-click with the mouse and select Paste in the pop-up menu.

Copy and paste text on an Android smartphone and tablet

Copying text

Android copyPress and hold down on any text with your finger and then let go. Upon letting go, a menu should appear on top-right of the screen (shown to the right) that allows you to copy. Highlight the text you want to copy and then press your finger on Copy to copy.

Pasting text

Press and hold down your finger on the screen where you want to paste and select Paste to paste the text.

Practice copying and pasting text

Using the two text fields below, try copying the text in the first field and pasting it into the second. After copying and pasting the text, you should see "Example copy text" in both boxes.


Copy and paste text on an Apple iPhone and iPad

Note: These steps are only for the Apple iPad and iPhone. If you have an Apple desktop or laptop computer see our desktop and laptop steps.

Copying text

iPhone copyPress and hold down on any text with your finger and then let go. Upon letting go, you should be presented with a menu press your finger on Select. Select all the text you want to copy by dragging the bars on either side and then press your finger on Copy.

Pasting text

To paste the text press and hold down with your finger where you want to paste the text and then click Paste.

Practice copying and pasting text

Using the two text fields below, try copying the text in the first field and pasting it into the second. After copying and pasting the text, you should see "Example copy text" in both boxes.


Copy and paste text on a Chromebook

Copying text

For Chromebooks that have no mouse buttons, you can copy and paste text by following the steps below.

  1. Highlight the text you want to copy by pressing down on the touchpad and while continuing to hold down on the touchpad dragging your finger in the direction you want to copy text.
  2. Once the text has been highlighted tap two fingers on the touchpad to bring up the right-click menu and select Copy.

- OR -

  1. Highlight the text you want to copy.
  2. Press the Ctrl+C keyboard shortcut.

Pasting text

To paste text move your cursor to where you want to paste and then right-click by touching two fingers on the touchpad and then clicking Paste or pressing the Ctrl+V keyboard shortcut.

Practice copying and pasting text

Copy 3Using the two text fields below, try copying (Ctrl+C) the text in the first box and pasting (Ctrl+V) into the second. After copying and pasting the text, you should see "Example copy text" in both boxes.


Copy and paste text on a Kindle

Unfortunately, there are no copy and paste options when reading Kindle books on any device. However, you can Highlight text in any book, which is added to your highlights that can be viewed online or copied from the Kindle to your computer. When viewing your highlights either of these ways you can copy and paste any text that you have highlighted using any of the steps mentioned above depending on the device you are using.

Additional information