macOS
macOS

By using the Cut, Copy, and Paste commands, you can duplicate and move content on your Mac. By mastering these commands, you can significantly increase your productivity. Here’s how to cut, copy and paste content, files, and more on your Mac.

These instructions were created for macOS Catalina (10.15) but should apply to most previous versions of macOS and Mac OS X. Some earlier versions of the operating system may have slightly different menu names or dialog boxes.

How to copy, cut or paste on MAC

To copy, cut, or paste the text, complete the following steps:

If you are using a mouse or trackpad, move the cursor to the beginning of the text you want to copy. Then, click and hold while dragging the cursor along with the content you want to copy.

If you are using the keyboard, move the cursor to the beginning of the text you want to copy. Then, hold down Shift while using the arrow keys to select the content you want to copy.

You will see a colored box around the selected content. Other keyboard shortcuts are particularly useful with the Copy and Paste commands :

Command + A. Select all text or elements in the current view, based on your selection or cursor position. The Select All command is useful when you need to copy an entire document.

Command + Z. Use the Undo command to undo the last action, for example when pasting text in the wrong position.

To copy the text, use one of the following methods:

On the keyboard, press Command + C.

From the menu bar, select Edit > Copy. To cut the text, use one of the following methods:

  • On the keyboard, press Command + X.
  • From the menu bar, select Edit > Cut.

To paste the newly copied or cut text, place the cursor in an editable area, such as a text box or document, then use one of the following methods:

  • On the keyboard, press Command + V.
  • From the menu bar, select Edit > Paste.

Text can appear in many places and is not always easy to select. For example, to copy the contents of a cell in Microsoft Excel, the easiest method is to select the cell (not the text) and then copy it. 

In Microsoft Word, there are detailed selection options that you can adjust to facilitate your selection. In PDFs, you cannot use the Cut command, but copying text and images from a PDF works well.

How to cut, copy or paste an image

If you can select content by dragging the cursor over it, you can copy it. Using this technique, it is possible to copy even difficult-to-select objects, such as images on websites.

To copy an image from a web page, hover the cursor over the image you want to copy, press Control, select the image, then select Copy Image from the context menu. 

The image is now on the clipboard and you can paste it using the steps provided in the previous section in any field that accepts the images. The process is the same in a document, although images can be cut and copied in documents.

You can also copy the URL of an image by moving the cursor over the image, pressing Command, then selecting Copy Image Address from the context menu.

How to cut, copy and paste files and folders

You can cut, copy and paste files and folders in macOS in the same way you cut, copy and paste text and images. But macOS offers a unique way of playing files and folders in the Finder called Duplicate.

The Duplicate command creates a copy of the selected items in the same folder as the original. If you want to create copies in another location in the Finder, you need to use the Copy command.

To duplicate files in Finder, complete the following steps:

  1. Select one or more folders or files.
  2. Press Control, select the highlighted items, then select Duplicate from the context menu. (You can also duplicate the item by selecting File > Duplicate on the menu bar or pressing Command + D.)

For faster copying, hold down Option, then drag the file to a new location. This command automatically duplicates the file, even in the same folder.

If you want to move the selected file or folder instead of duplicating, press Command + Option + V. This command deletes the files from their original location when they are pasted into the new location.

How to copy and paste between apps

The Cut, Copy, and Paste commands also work on all apps. You can make a selection in one app, copy or cut it, then paste it in another app. Since the clipboard is global, the same clipboard content is available everywhere on the Mac.

A common use of this feature is sharing content from the web. In the web browser, copy the text, image or item from a web page. Then, switch to the target app, place the cursor where you want view the content, and paste the content.

To copy and paste content between apps, the target app must be able to accept the copied content. For example, if you copy this sentence, go to Finder and then paste, nothing will happen because Finder has nowhere to insert the text.

Solve formatting problems

Pasting between apps with rich text formatting can be frustrating. For example, pasting from a website into a Word document can result in strange-looking text because the Copy and Cut commands capture both the selected text and the formatting of that text. When you paste the text, formatting is provided.

When you want to paste rich or formatted text from a source, instead of using the standard Paste command, use the Paste and Match Style command. This command adjusts the formatting to match the formatting of the target file. In this way, the pasted content will adapt perfectly to the rest of the document.

After you select and cut or copy the text in the source document, go to the destination document, then select Edit > Paste and Match Style or use the keyboard shortcut Shift + Option + Command + V. Not all apps have a Paste and Match Style command, and some apps use a different keyboard shortcut, so be sure to check out the Edit menu.


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