How To Copy and Paste Text On Your iPhone Or iPad

You can copy and paste text on an iPhone or iPad just like you can on a computer. However, instead of a mouse or trackpad to select text and keyboard commands to copy and paste, you need to use touchscreen gestures to select and special on-screen commands to copy and paste. It takes some practice to be able to copy and paste as easily as you can on a computer.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: How To Copy and Paste Text On Your iPhone Or iPad.

Copying and Pasting text is something you probably do on a computer all the time. But on iOS, on an iPhone or iPad, you may not do it as often because it's a little tricky to do it and, you know, it wasn't really even available for the first couple versions of iOS. Even now it's kind of clunky how it works. So let's look at how to do it and I think the thing is to try to force yourself to do it a few times. You get a little better at it and then you find you can use it just as easily as you can on a computer.

So here I have some text here and I'm in the Notes app just as an example. To select text you can do two different things. One is tap anywhere in the text and hold your finger there. You get this little magnifying glass. You can move this around and see the cursor in the middle. So move the cursor somewhere. You can move it to the beginning of the text you want to select or you can move it to the middle of a word. Let's move it to the middle of a word as an example.

Now you get these commands that appear above the cursor. So you can Select All which will select all the text which is not what we want to do here. We want only to select some of it. So we'll hit the Select button. Now it selects that entire word. You have these two little handles that you can drag on either side of the word. So you can drag one handle to the end of the selection and the other handle to the beginning of the selection. Each time I release notice I get commands again at the top.

I get Cut and Copy as the first two commands. Cut works just like it does on a computer. It removes the text. It deletes but puts it in the buffer so you can put it somewhere else. Copy leaves the text there and puts a copy in the buffer. Now to select another area we just tap on the screen where we want. Let's add something there at the end.

Now how do you get the Paste command. Well, so you can tap and hold the way you did before. Get that cursor right where you want it. Release. Now you have the ability to Paste. Notice that Copy and Cut aren't there because nothing is selected. It's just a single blinking cursor. So I hit Paste and it puts the text there.

Now I also could have pasted, here in Notes, by using a little command right above the keyboard. You can see in the top left corner of the keyboard is this little command there. It's got Undo and Redo and also this little Paste button. I can use that as well. So some apps have little Copy and Paste functions there on the keyboard right at the top. Pages has even more sophisticated ones. So look for that. But in general when you're writing something in Mail or maybe in a form in Safari or something like that you're going to have to rely on the little commands that appear at the top there.

Now there is one other way to select some text. You can double tap the word. So if you double tap the word it selects the entire word very quickly and then now you can drag those handles like that. So if you don't like the kind of little magnifying cursor there you can just use that technique.

It's a little awkward at first but once you get used to it, of course, you'll find that Copy and Paste is just as useful on iOS as it is on a computer. As a matter of fact sometimes more so because it's harder to type on a virtual keyboard. So being able to copy bits of text and paste them, rather than retyping them, sometimes can be very useful.

Comments: 4 Responses to “How To Copy and Paste Text On Your iPhone Or iPad”

    joe juliano
    7 months ago

    Gary, I do not have the same keyboard config as you show in this video. My Keyboard selections are English/Enmoji, I have ‘offered text words_would that be called predictive?’ but not the other options. I’m on 11.4.1 iOS, its not a deal breaker for me, I copy past the hard way>although the bubble will come in handy now. I did not know about the mag bubble, cool, thanks.

    7 months ago

    joe: The keyboard varies depending on the app. And, of course, which version of iOS you have.

    Joseph L. Juliano
    7 months ago

    Gary, were you using NOTES ? (as I am )
    I am on iPhone 7Plus, iOS 11.4.1.
    I assume I have the up to day as of this moment NOTES. Courious!!

    7 months ago

    Joseph: I’m showing this on the iPad. So there’s more space and thus different elements up there.

Comments Closed.