How to copy, cut, and paste on any device

Copy, cut, and paste. It’s an essential skill when using an electronic device. I’m sure many of you know how to do this on a computer, but what about on a tablet or smartphone? We’ll review them all.

First, let’s review the difference –

Copy – making another copy of the words, paragraph or picture to be placed somewhere else, similar to a copy machine

Cut – removing the selection entirely to be pasted somewhere else, just like cutting with scissors

Paste – placing the selection that was cut or copied into a different location

Now, the steps. On a PC, first, you would need to highlight. This can be accomplished by using the mouse and dragging over the words until they are highlighted. You can also accomplish this with the shift key. Move your mouse to where you’d like to start copying, click and then hold the Shift key on your keyboard. Then click where you’d like to end the highlighting.


Once your text is highlighted, you can either use your mouse or some keyboard shortcuts. If you want to use the mouse, point to the highlighted selection and RIGHT click. You’ll see a menu pop up and you can choose copy or cut. If you’d rather use a keyboard shortcut, when the text is highlighted, hit CTRL-C for copy, or CTRL-X for cut.

Then move wherever you’d like to paste, right-click, and in that menu hit paste. Or move wherever you’d like to paste and hit CTRL-V.

For a Mac computer, the process is the same, except the keyboard shortcuts. There is no CTRL key on a Mac keyboard. Instead, use the CMD button, or you can use the right-click option.


For any touch screen device, like a tablet or phone, all you need to do is press and hold on the text.  On an Android device, you’ll see the highlighting start and you can drag the anchors to complete what you’d like to highlight. You’ll see a menu at the top that shows you options for copy.  If you long-press on something already highlighted, such as a web address, you will see a menu pop up like the one below. Then you can copy or cut and then paste to wherever you’d like, it’ll save to your clip tray.

On an iOS device, when you press and hold you’ll see two anchors that you can drag to highlight a selection. You’ll also see the menu options to copy and paste.

You can also use the magnifier to assist with selecting the word or words you’d like to highlight. When you first press and hold, this is what will come up to allow you to move to the exact word you want to start with.

Again, this will copy to a virtual clipboard and allow you to paste wherever you’d like.

3 thoughts on “How to copy, cut, and paste on any device

  1. Caroline Bakelaar’s comment from 31 August 2019 (presumably when this article was first published) still applies.

    The graphics to which she referred still need to be fixed — I see empty rectangles with no pixtures in them.

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