Updated: 12/31/2020 by Computer Hope

Copy may refer to any of the following:

Copy option in file menu and right-click menu.

1. First developed by Larry Tesler, copy and paste or copy is the act of duplicating text, data, files, or disks, producing two or more of the same file or segments of data. Copying a file to an alternate location, such as a USB jump drive, is a common procedure for backing up or sharing a file.

How to copy

How you're copying all depends on what is being copied. Below are links to pages that explain how to copy text, files, directories, and other data on a computer. If you need help copying, visit the link that applies to what you're trying to copy.

What is the keyboard shortcut to copy?

Below is a listing of keyboard shortcuts for how you can copy on different operating systems. Keep in mind that whatever is being cut must be highlighted or selected first.


On many devices, you can also right-click the highlighted text and select Copy from the right-click menu. Also, you can use the keyboard shortcut key Ctrl+Insert to copy text.

When something is copied, where does it go?

When something is copied, it goes to the clipboard and remains there until something else is copied or cut on the computer. By storing what was copied in the clipboard, you can paste it multiple times until something new is copied into the clipboard.

How is copying different than moving?

When you copy something, you leave what you are copying in the same place and make a copy of it in another place. However, when you move something, you are taking it from one place to another place. In other words, copying creates a duplicate and moving does not.

Why would someone copy instead of move?

As mentioned above, when you copy something it remains in the same place and can be duplicated wherever it is being pasted. For example, you could copy a file and then paste that file into five other folders to get a total of six copies of a file.

2. Copy is also used in the command line to copy a file from one directory to another.

  • See the copy command page for information about the MS-DOS and Windows command line command.
  • See the Linux and Unix cp command overview for further information about this command.

Clipboard, Clone, Copy con, Ctrl+C, Ctrl+Ins, Cut, Duplicate, Move, Paste, Software terms, Word processor terms, Xcopy