A Beginner’s Guide to Copy and Paste

Copy and Paste has been around for a long time, but if you are new to Mac you may not know all of its uses. You can not only copy and paste text, but also graphics, files and other objects. You can use Cut to easily move objects. Copy and Paste can also be used to move things from one app to another and to create new documents from parts of other ones.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: A Beginner’s Guide to Copy and Paste.

Most computer users know about Copy and Paste. But you may not know about all the different uses of it on the Mac. So let's take a quick look.

So while you're editing text this is the most common use for copy and paste. You can select some text and then you can Edit, Copy and then paste it somewhere else with Edit, Paste. Now almost nobody uses the Edit menu for this. You just use the keyboard shortcuts. Command C for copy and Command V for paste. So it'll copy here and then we'll add some lines here and I'm going to Command V to paste the text in. That's the most basic use. But you can do a lot of other things.

For instance, here in Pages you can select an object like this picture here and notice that Copy is active there as well. I can Copy, Command C, and then I can Paste, Command V, and get another copy of that image. So it works for objects as well as text. You can use it in other things as well.

You can use it to go between apps. So I'm going to select this entire paragraph here. Command C to copy. Then I'm going to switch to another app. Switch to Notes and I can Paste the text into Notes.

Now you also have the option to use Paste and Match Style. That's useful, for instance, if we had something in here like some maybe some Bold, maybe some Italic. Notice if I copy and then paste it into Notes it includes that bold and italic there. If I don't want to do that I can do Paste and Match Style. You can see it matches the style of what was here already. It doesn't make some of the text bold and some of the text italic.

You can also use Copy and Paste in a completely different context. Like, for instance, in editing images. So let's go into an image editor. I'm going to use Pixelmator as an example here. I'm going to use a selection tool, select a part of the image, Command C to copy. Then go to the placement tool and I'm going to Command V and it will paste another copy here and I can put it wherever I want.

I can also go to another document, so I've got another document open here, and I can paste into that as well. So it's useful for copying and pasting pieces of images as well as text. Most image editing apps, and a lot of other apps as well, will allow you to create a new document and automatically size the document for the size of the clipboard. So it's going to do it exactly the right size for what I've copied. So now when I paste it perfectly fills the image. So it's very easy to grab a selection of an image and create a new image by Copy, Command N for new, Okay, and paste it in.

Now you can even use Copy and Paste in the Finder. So if we get rid of some of these apps here and we go to Finder window we can see here I've got a file called Milestones.rtf. I can use Command C to copy that and I can paste that right here and it will make a copy. See Milestones copy.rtf. In addition, I can go to another folder and paste into that as well.

Now let's quickly talk about some terminology. When you copy something it goes into a place called the Clipboard or sometimes called the Buffer. This is the place that that item is held. As a matter of fact you can go to the Finder and under Edit you can Show Clipboard. You can see exactly what's in the Clipboard. This works great for text and images but not necessarily for some other things. Like for instance Audio that you may copy and paste in an audio app.

Now when you select something and copy it, it remains there and you can make a copy of it somewhere else by pasting it. But there's another command called Cut. Cut is just like Copy except when you use it, with Command X, it deletes the item there and at the same time puts it in the Clipboard. So now you can paste it somewhere else. Now that's not very useful in that situation but say I wanted to move this paragraph after this one. I could Cut it, Command X, and then paste it, Command V, so it makes movement very easy by using Cut and then Paste.