How to Copy and Paste on a Laptop

Use a touchpad, mouse, or keyboard

What to Know

  • Highlight the content and press Ctrl+C (on Windows) or Command+C (on Mac) to copy. To paste, press Ctrl+V or Command+V.
  • Alternatively, right-click the content, then select Copy. To paste, right-click and choose Paste.
  • To copy multiple files, left-click and drag a selection box, or hold down Shift as you make your selection, then right-click and select Copy.

This article explains how to copy and paste on a laptop using a mouse, touchpad, and keyboard. The instructions apply to all programs on Windows and Mac computers.

What Is the Easiest Way to Copy and Paste?

The easiest way to copy text is using keyboard shortcuts. Use Ctrl+C or Command+C to copy and Ctrl+V or Command+V to paste. For files, folders, images, and other multimedia content right-click and select Copy/Paste.

How to Copy and Paste With the Ctrl/Command Key

Follow these steps to copy and paste text on Windows or Mac:

  1. Highlight the content you wish to copy by left-clicking and dragging across the text. You can also hold down a shift key and then use the arrow keys to highlight the text you wish to cut or copy.

    Press Ctrl+A (Windows) or Command+A (Mac) to select all text in the active window.

    Highlighted text on a web page
  2. Press Ctrl+C (on Windows) or Command+C (on Mac) to copy the content to your clipboard.

  3. Move the cursor where you want the copied content to appear, then press Ctrl+V (on Windows) or Command+V (on Mac) to paste it.

    To cut text or images, use the shortcut Ctrl+X (Windows) or Command+X (Mac). Cutting deletes the original content while saving it to the clipboard.

    Pasted recipe in Google Docs

How Do You Copy and Paste on a Laptop Without Ctrl?

The other option is to highlight the text, right-click the highlighted content, and then select Copy. To paste, right-click where you want the text to go and select Paste.

Highlighted words and Copy in right-click menu on a web page

For folders, files, and images, just right-click the content (no need to highlight) and select Copy. To paste, place the cursor where you want the copied content to appear, then right-click and select Paste.

Copy in right-click menu in Windows folder

To copy multiple files in a folder, left-click and drag a selection box around what you want to copy, then right-click on a highlighted item and select Copy. Alternatively, hold down Shift as you make your selection to choose multiple files, then right-click and select Copy.

Select box choosing photos in Windows folder

Copying and pasting can save you a lot of time. If you're making a spreadsheet, you can select one of the cells and use the appropriate keyboard shortcut to copy the contents. Then, you can select another cell and use the shortcut to paste. If you want to use an image in a document, copying and pasting are much faster than waiting for the image to download and inserting it manually.

Why Can't I Copy and Paste on My Laptop?

Not all programs and web pages allow you to copy text or other content. Some apps purposely prevent users from copying anything. Google Chrome has an extension called Enable Copy which enables you to copy on restricted web pages.

On the other hand, some apps may use a different keyboard shortcut, or there may be an option to Copy and Paste in one of the app's menus (look for an Edit tab or a Gear icon).

Edit and Copy in Google Docs menu

Other apps have a dedicated Copy button, which may look like two overlapping shapes. A Google search can tell you how to copy and paste in a specific program.

Twitch clips with Copy to Clipboard icon highlighted for sharing link
FAQ
  • How do I copy and paste on a Chromebook?

    To copy and paste on a Chromebook, right-click and select Copy/Paste, or use the shortcuts Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V. To bring up the enhanced clipboard, press the Launcher key+V to see your five most recently copied items.

  • How do I copy and paste on an iPhone?

    To copy text on iPhone, tap and hold the first word you want to highlight, drag until you've highlighted all the text you want, then tap Copy. To copy an image or link, tap and hold, then tap Copy. To paste, double-tap or tap and hold, then select Paste.

  • How do I copy and paste on Android?

    To copy text on Android, press and hold the first word you want to highlight, drag your finger across the text you wish to copy, then tap Copy. To copy images or links, tap and hold, then tap Copy. To paste, tap and hold, then tap Paste.

  • How do I copy and paste in Excel?

    Copy and paste in Excel using keyboard shortcuts, the right-click context menu, or the menu options on the Home tab of the ribbon. To select multiple adjacent cells with the arrow keys, press and hold down the Shift key. To select multiple non-adjacent cells with the arrow keys, use the Ctrl key.

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