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Cut, Copy & Paste


What is Cut, Copy and Paste?
The single most useful function in Windows, is Cut, Copy, and Paste. This refers to the process of highlighting something (usually text but it works for pictures or any other content as well) which makes a temporary copy, then placing into another section of a document or a totally separate document. This will save you hours and hours of retyping over your computing lifetime. The best part about it is that it works across all Windows programs.

What is the difference in Cut and Copy?

  • There are 2 different choices depending on your objective:
  • COPY : When you "copy" something your are doing just that, making a "copy" of the content or text and leaving the original content or text in place.
  • CUT: When you "cut", you are cutting it out or removing it from it's original location and moving it to another location.

Where Does it go when you Copy or Cut Something?

  • Whether you cut or copy something, it is held in an invisible area in Windows called the "Windows Clipboard".
  • If you choose to Copy, since the original text remains intact,  nothing will appear to happen....nothing you can see anyway. But what happens is that you have just placed a COPY of your content onto the Windows Clipboard, waiting for you to paste it somewhere. Some people get anxious at this point thinking they have to paste it immediately, but you don't. The LAST thing that you copy or cut to the Windows Clipboard, will remain there forever until you paste it somewhere, or reboot your computer, whichever occurs first.
  • You can only copy or cut ONE item at a time. When you copy or cut the next item, it replaces what is currently on the clipboard.
  • The Clipboard can hold a lot. You can Cut or Copy an entire book or just one word...they both count as one item in the clipboard.
  • Pasting is the same for both CUT and COPY.

What is Paste?
After you CUT or COPY something, the next step is to PASTE it somewhere. This refers to placing what you have copied or cut to the destination location. The easiest way to understand it is to just try it, it is easy.

TECH TIP!  If you find yourself using Cut, Copy, and Paste often, and you will, try this shortcut: Notice the CTRL (Control) key on the lower left of your keyboard .

It has many functions but in this case if you hold down the CTRL + X = Cut  / CTRL + C = Copy / CTRL + V = Paste.

It is ironic that these three keys just happen to be next to each other on your keyboard. This is a real time saver try it and get used to using these shortcuts and here is why. Althoght the Cut, Copy and Paste commands work in ALL programs, you may not necessarily have an EDIT menu in a particular application. The CTRL + X,C,V comes to the rescue here. 

How to Cut, Copy and Paste

1. First lets try COPY. Now with your mouse, drag it over a section of text to select what you want to copy. This is also known as "highlighting" text.  You can copy this actual text here in step #1 for this test.

2. Now that you have your text highlighted, click on the Edit menu above and choose Copy (or hit CTRL + C on your keyboard see below). What is going on here is the text that you just copied is being "stored" temporarily to the Windows Clipboard.

3. Ok, now you have to decide where you want to Paste your text and place your cursor there. For example this example, you can just open a new email message as you normally would. Dont worry, your copied text will be right there on the clipboard waiting for you, don't feel the need to rush. Now simply place your cursor in the body of the email. and PASTE the text by clicking on the Edit button again and choose Paste (or hit CTRL + V on your keyboard see below).

That's it. Remember you can do this between programs or within the same program using text, photos, spreadsheets, emails or graphics.




The single most useful function in Windows, is Cut, Copy, and Paste.


Also see How to Undo Something: The Magic of CTRL + Z
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