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

Updated: 04/12/2021 by Computer Hope
Copy and paste text

This page provides details on how you can copy and paste text or other data from one program or web page to another. We've also included keyboard shortcuts, tips, and areas where you can practice copying and pasting text.

Note

Keep in mind that when you copy, you're duplicating the text. If you want to remove text from one area and place it in another, see: How to cut and paste.

Note

If you want to copy files instead of text, see: How to copy files.

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

Copy 1

Copying text

Highlight the text you want to copy. For example, you could highlight a word, a line, a paragraph, or all the text in the document. Once highlighted, perform 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 combination Ctrl+C or Ctrl+Insert on a PC or Command+C on an Apple Mac.

Note

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

Paste

Pasting the text

Once you've completed the steps above, the text is moved into a temporary storage area, known as the clipboard. To paste that text, move the cursor to where you want to paste and perform any of the following steps.

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

- OR -

Click Edit on the top file menu in the program, and then click Paste.

- OR-

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

Tip

You can paste text in the clipboard as much as you want until something else is stored in it. 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; the Paste option will be grayed out. Something must be cut or copied before it can be pasted.

Practice copying and pasting text

Example of copying

Use the two text fields below to copy (Ctrl+C or Command+C) the text in the first box and pasting (Ctrl+V or Command+V) into the second. After copying and pasting the text, "Example copy text" will be 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 combination Ctrl+C on a PC or Command+C on a Mac to copy the text.
  3. Move the text cursor to where you want to paste the text.
  4. Press Ctrl+V on a PC or Command+V on a Mac to paste the text.
Tip

Most programs also allow you to right-click with your mouse to copy and paste text.

Practice copying and pasting text

Animated example of copy and paste

Use the two text fields below to copy (Ctrl+C or Command+C) the text in the first box and paste it (Ctrl+V or Command+V) into the second. After copying and pasting the text, "Example copy text" is in both boxes.


How to copy and paste between files

To copy and paste text from one document or file into another, follow the steps below.

  1. Open the document or file containing the text you want to copy or move.
  2. Highlight the text you want to copy.
  3. Use the shortcut key combination Ctrl+C on a PC or Command+C on an Apple Mac to copy the text.
  4. Open or switch to a new or existing document or file where you want to move the text.
  5. Move the text cursor to where you want to paste the text.
  6. Press the shortcut key combination Ctrl+V on a PC or Command+V on an Apple Mac to paste the text.
Tip

Most programs also allow you to right-click with your mouse to copy and paste text.

Practice copying and pasting text

Animated example of copy and paste

Use the two text fields below to copy (Ctrl+C or Command+C) the text in the first box and pasting (Ctrl+V or Command+V) into the second. After copying and pasting the text, "Example copy text" is in both boxes.


What keyboard keys 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 key combinations for copy and paste. Memorizing these two keyboard shortcuts is very helpful as they are some of the most commonly-performed actions 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 = Command+C
Paste = Command+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 devices.

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 animation

Use the two text fields below to copy (Ctrl+C or Command+C) the text in the first box and pasting (Ctrl+V or Command+V) into the second. After copying and pasting the text, "Example copy text" is in both boxes.


Copy and paste in a Windows command line

  1. Open the Windows command prompt.
  1. Double-click the text you want to copy, or highlight it.
  2. With the text highlighted, press Ctrl+C to copy.
  3. Move your cursor to the appropriate location and press Ctrl+V to paste.
Note

If there are spaces in the text you are copying, you need to highlight it rather than double-clicking.

Copy and paste from a Linux shell to the X11 clipboard

To copy text from a Linux command shell running in an X11 terminal, use xclip to send text to the clipboard.

You can install xclip with your package manager. For example, for Linux operating systems that use the Debian software package repository (such as Debian, Ubuntu, and Linux Mint), you can install it with apt.

sudo apt update && sudo apt install xclip

Use xclip -sel clip to copy text to the X11 clipboard. It reads from standard input, so you can pipe text to xclip. For example:

cat /etc/passwd | xclip -sel clip

For more information, visit the official xclip repository on Github.

Copy and paste in a Linux GUI

Whether you're using X11 or Wayland as your display server, the standard cut-and-paste methods should work as expected in your Linux window manager.

Copying text

Highlight the selectable text you want to copy, and press Ctrl+C.

Pasting text

Place the mouse cursor where you want to paste the text, then press Ctrl+V.

X11 native methods

If you're using X11 without a window manager, highlight text (drag cursor with the left mouse button) to copy it to the clipboard. To paste, place the text cursor where you want to paste the text, then middle-click, or press Alt and left-click.

Copy and paste text on an Android smartphone and tablet

Copying text

Android copy

Press and hold your finger on any text and then let go. Upon letting go, a menu should appear (shown to the right) that allows you to copy. Highlight any other text you want to copy and then tap Copy.

Pasting text

Press and hold your finger on the screen where you want to place the text, and select 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, "Example copy text" will be 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 copy

Double-tap (tap twice) your finger on any text. If successful a menu appears, tap your finger on Copy or Select.

Tip

You can tripple-tap (tap three times) on a word in a paragraph or sentence to select all text.

Tip

To copy more than the default selected text, press your finger on the left or right blue circle, and while pressing down move in the direction you want to select.

Pasting text

Tap once where you want to paste and then tap Paste. If you want to paste this text in a different app, open the other app before pasting 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, "Example copy text" will be 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. Press down on the touchpad.
  2. While continuing to hold down the touchpad, drag your finger in the direction you want to copy text.
  3. Once the text is 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. Perform the Ctrl+C keyboard shortcut.

Pasting text

  1. To paste text, move your cursor to where you want to paste.
  2. Right-click by placing two fingers on the touchpad.
  3. Select Paste from the drop-down menu that appears, or press Ctrl+V.

Practice copying and pasting text

Copy 3

Using 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, "Example copy text" is in both boxes.


Copy and paste text on a Kindle

Unfortunately, there are no copy and paste options on a Kindle. However, you can Highlight text in any book, which is added to your highlights. After adding highlights, they that can be viewed online or copied from the Kindle to your computer. You can copy and paste any saved highlights using any of the steps mentioned above depending on the device you are using.