MacMost Now 897: Copying and Pasting Between Apps

You can copy and paste complex objects between apps, and the apps will do the best they can with the objects. Between very compatible apps like Pages and Keynote, you get an exact copy of the object, with properties still editable. Pasting into apps like TextEdit or an image editor, you'll often get a simpler by usable image instead of the original object.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: MacMost Now 897: Copying and Pasting Between Apps.

Hi this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today's episode let's look at copying and pasting complex objects between apps.

Usually copy and paste involves very simple things like a piece of text or a bit map image. You can copy and paste between apps as you would expect. For instance you can copy a piece of text from Pages and paste it into TextEdit. You can copy an image from one image editing thing like say iPhoto into another, say Pixelmator.

But you can also copy and paste other objects and the apps simply do the best they can. Now it used to be you couldn't do this. If an object wasn't compatible, like say a chart from Pages or Numbers, and you copy that and try to paste it into TextEdit, TextEdit simply wouldn't accept it.

But now apps actually accept these things and simply do the best they can with it. Let's look at some examples.

So here I have a Page document where I have created a couple of complex objects. The first one here is simply an image that I stuck inside of a shape. Then I assigned a picture frame to the shape. I did a shadow and I did a mirror. You can see that there is all sorts of things going on here. It is not a simple image.

Now you would expect if I would select it and then Copy that I might just get the image itself or perhaps I would get the entire thing but it would only work if I paste it into Pages. For instance I will do a paste here and I end up with a duplicate of it in Pages.

But what if I pasted it into something else. So let's go into TextEdit. In TextEdit here I have a rich text document, a regular text document of course can only accept text. But a rich text document can accept lots of different things like images. Let me paste here and you can see I actually get everything here. I get the frame, I get the shadow, and I get the mirror all put together.

What it is, is it is not an object anymore. I can't select it and edit the frame because frame editing options that is something from Pages. That's not part of TextEdit. So what it has done is it has found the lowest common denominator between the two of them. So that's an image. So it has taken this and converted it to an image and then it stuck it in there. So this is just a plain normal image and I've got it now in TextEdit. Actually if I would copy it here and paste it back into Pages you can see now it is a totally different thing. It is simply an image that I have selected as opposed to this complex object.

So let's try it with something else. Here is just a sample chart that I have created. I'm going to copy that and I'm going to switch over to TextEdit again and I'm going to paste that in. You can see that it did the same thing here. This is just a plain image. I can't edit it. I can't do anything with it right now. If I wanted to change that I would have to go back into Pages, change it, and then copy and paste it back into TextEdit. But it did actually give me a good representation of the object.

Let's look at one final one. I was talking about the lowest common denominator. So here is a simple table in Pages. So you would think that the lowest common denominator between Pages and TextEdit is not in fact an image, creating an image of this. But in fact creating a TextEdit table. In fact that is what we get. If I were to paste this in here I see that I've got a table that I can actually edit now. So it has converted this to a TextEdit table because it was able to get exactly the same thing between both. You can see they look the same.

What about going to an image editing tool. So I'm going to select this again here and copy it. I'm going to go over to Pixelmator as an example. I'm going to paste in here. You can see that it has pasted the image there because of course it doesn't have those Pages tools for editing the frame and things like that. That is something specific to Pages but I do actually get the image here just like I did in TextEdit.

The same thing would happen if I copy the table and go to Pixelmator. I can paste it in there and if I go over here to this table (this was a chart and this is a table) and I go to Pixelmator and I paste it in you can see it doesn't work there. So this doesn't work 100% of the time. You would expect maybe it to create an image here but in fact it just isn't compatible between the two of them and there is no way for me to paste that in. I just don't get anything.

So what is really going on here is that the magic happens when you copy. When you copy a complex object in something like Pages it actually takes all the elements of that complex object, puts them in there in case you are going to paste them into Pages again so it can create a true duplicate of it.

But it also takes an image preview of that and it stores that as well. Then when you try to paste it to something, say Pixelmator, it will then say I can't do anything with all this data that makes up the object but there is an image preview, I'll use that instead. So when I way trying to copy the table it didn't create an image preview, it just copied the table. TextEdit was able to understand the data and use it but Pixelmator wasn't.

What about objects that have complete compatibility between apps. For instance I'm going to take all three of these from Pages here, I have selected them all. I'm going to copy them and I'm going to go over to Keynote. Now Keynote is part of the same original iWorks set of apps and has all the same tools in it. So when I paste in here I actually get all these objects and not only do I get them but they are the actual objects themselves. You can see I can go into the Inspector here and I can change aspects of it and alter it. So I'm actually getting the real thing not just the preview here when I go between Pages and Keynote.

How about some other apps? Here I am in Safari and I've selected some text that even includes an image. I'm going to copy that. Now let's take a look at what happens when I go into Pages here and I paste it in Pages. You can see I kind of get a representation of what is going on here. It doesn't quite capture exactly everything but you can see I've got the fonts and the colors of the fonts and the images there. It even created a little text box for me.

So what I'm trying to show here is don't be afraid to try copying and pasting objects between apps that you commonly work with. You may get the original object. You may get just an image representation or something else or you may get nothing at all. But you may find something that is compatible and that helps you with some flows that you have to deal with all the time.

I hope you found this useful. This is Gary with MacMost Now.

Comments: One Response to “MacMost Now 897: Copying and Pasting Between Apps”

    Gary Baker
    6 years ago

    Thank you, this was really helpful!

Comments Closed.