How to Select, Cut, Copy and Paste

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If you have trouble remembering how to Cut, Copy and Paste, don't be embarrassed -- it's one of the most common questions that I hear. This tutorial will teach you how to do it, and you can come back and review in case you forget.

One reason for the difficulty is that the term "Cut, Copy, and Paste" skips the first key part -- Selecting the text to copy. I think another reason is that a lot of tutorials jump into instructions without first telling you where they're going to go.

So in this tutorial, I'm going to give you the overview of how it works, and then tell you how to do it in two separate articles: Select, Cut, Copy and Paste on a Computer (PC, Mac or Chromebook), and also Select, Cut, Copy and Paste on a Mobile Platform (iPhone or iPad, Kindle Fire, or other Android tablet or smartphone). After you've read this overview so you can see where we're going, choose the tutorial for the device you use for a step-by-step how-to.

So here are the steps that we'll cover:

Step 1: SELECT

First, we'll learn how to SELECT the text that we're going to operate on. SELECTing is how you tell the system what text to apply the commands that you're about to give it to.

Sometimes you'll hear this referred to as "highlighting" because the text changes color to let you know that the system knows you've selected it.

Step 2: COPY or CUT

The COPY operation copies the selected text into a area of the computer memory called the clipboard. It's a hidden area that your computer uses to stash stuff that is ready to be pasted.

If you choose to CUT instead of COPY, it does the same thing as COPY but then deletes ("cuts") the selected text from its original spot. You can only CUT content that you can edit -- in an area where you can write. But you can COPY text from a web page or anything else that you select it from.

Step 3: PASTE

This final step copies the text from the clipboard into the page where you've told it to PASTE. You can only Paste into a page or form where you can type, such as a notepad note, email that you're writing, or a form field in a web page.

When you Paste, the text in the clipboard is not deleted. So if you want a page that says "I will learn to Copy and Paste" 100 times, you just write it once, copy it once, and then paste it over and over.

Some Basics Concepts to Know

The Caret, and Cursors

When you click into a page to write -- an email, or a post or comment in Talk4TV or Net4TV Guides, or a word-processing or text-editor document, you'll see a flashing vertical line (called a "caret") showing you the insertion point where any keyboard action will take place. You'll see the caret on iPads, tablets and smartphones with touchscreens, as well as on computers.

If you're on a computer (that is, not using a touch screen), you're used to seeing your mouse pointer and maybe the hand pointer. Those are two types of cursors, and there are more. When you're over an area where you can enter or copy text, you'll often see the pointer change to an I-bar. That's a clue that you're over text that can be selected.

Keys on your Keyboard

If you're on an iPad, Kindle Fire, or other Android tablet with a touchscreen, keyboard keys don't apply to you. But if you're on a PC, a Mac, or a Chromebook, or if you use a Bluetooth keyboard with your touchscreen tablet, they do apply, and you might also want to read the computer tutorial to see how to use them.

When we use keyboard commands (also known as "keyboard shortcuts"), we combine a modifier key with a letter key. The modifier key basically says "don't see the letter I'm typing as a letter, but rather do the action that this letter plus modifier is set up for."

On the Windows PC and the Chromebook (and other Google products), the Control key [Ctrl] is the modifier for the Cut Copy and Paste commands.

On Apple products -- the Mac, and the iPad/iPhone when you're using a Bluetooth keyboard -- the modifier is the Command key [Cmd], which is the key with the little curlicue on it. If you used to cut and paste on WebTV, you'll remember the Command key; the reason for it was that the WebTV developers had come from Apple.

When you see "press Cmd-A or Ctrl-A" it means press the Command or the Control key (whichever modifier key your system uses) and the [A] key at the same time. If you have difficulty doing it simultaneously, you can press the modifier key first and then while you're holding it down, also press the letter key.

Continue to Next Section

Ready? Now, choose the instructions for the type of device you want to use to select, cut, copy and paste.

For Computers: Windows, Mac, Chromebook, click this link:

How to Select, Copy, Cut & Paste on a Computer

For Mobile: iPad, iPhone, Kindle Fire, Android tablets & Smartphones, click this link:

How to Select, Copy, Cut & Paste on a Mobile Platform



Select, cut, copy and paste

Thank you, Dudette! Now I have a reference to return to when I forget, as no doubt I will do. So understandable and easy to follow. Thank you, again.

Cut, Copy & Paste.

Well done Dudette, very easy to understand.

I cut, copy, & paste all the time for my birthday greetings, so I already know how, but it's nice to have a reference for other platforms. Very helpful, thank you.