How to Clear, Copy & Paste

In the days before modern computers and word processors, writers and editors often resorted to using scissors and paste to move text or pictures in a document. Now we can use the Copy and Paste commands in many applications to accomplish the same task. These operations are based on the concept of a system clipboard that holds data that has been copied and is ready to be pasted. There are times you may want to clear the clipboard, such as after you've copied a large amount of data. Although there is no Clear clipboard command on either Windows or Mac computers, there are some effective workarounds.

Originally clear, copy, and paste came from word processing documents.
Image Credit: mihailomilovanovic/iStock/GettyImages

Copy & Paste Commands

To copy and paste in Windows applications like Word, Excel and PowerPoint, you first use your mouse or trackpad to select text or graphics. Then press Crtrl+C on the keyboard. This combination of keys is known as a keyboard shortcut. You can also press the right mouse button after selecting text or graphics and pick the Copy command from the popup menu. Once you have placed items on the clipboard by copying them, use the Ctrl+V shortcut to paste them into the same document or an entirely different document.

On Mac computers, the keyboard shortcuts for the Copy and Paste commands are slightly different. The Command key, which is specific to Apple keyboards, is used instead of the Control (Ctrl) key that's used on Windows. On a Mac, the shortcut for Copy is Command+C, while the shortcut for Paste is Command+V. Like Windows, the Mac also provides Copy and Paste commands on a popup menu that's accessed from the right mouse button. The commands can also be found on the Edit menu in the toolbar displayed at the top of the screen.

Clear Clipboard Command on Windows

There are many reasons you may want to clear a computer's clipboard, including removing sensitive data that you don't want to accidentally paste somewhere else. On Windows, the Paste command uses the item most recently added to the clipboard. Copied Items are generally not removed from the clipboard, even after they are pasted. You may need to clear the clipboard if you've copied a large amount of data to the clipboard and receive a message that it's full.

You can clear the clipboard in Excel and other Microsoft Office applications by accessing the Clipboard Pane from the Clipboard group on the Home tab. The Clipboard Pane shows a list of items currently in the clipboard. The Clear All button will delete all items from the list and effectively clear the clipboard.

Clear Clipboard on Mac

With Mac computers, only one piece of data is stored in the clipboard at a time. There is no standard command to remove the most recent item from the clipboard. Some users clear the clipboard by hitting the Space Bar to add a blank space, then selecting and copying it. Restarting the Mac will also clear the clipboard. To check the clipboard contents on a Mac, go to Finder on the top toolbar and select the Show Clipboard command on the Edit menu. The current contents of the clipboard will be displayed.

Clear, Copy & Paste on Mobile Phones

Mobile phones have much simpler interfaces than laptops and desktop computers. On both Android and Apple devices, you can select a block of text or an image by touch. A popup menu displays the Copy and Paste commands. There is no way to clear the clipboard, unless the mobile vendor has added the functionality. For example, some Samsung Android phones provide the Clipboard command on the popup menu with Copy and Paste. The command opens a pane showing recent items added to the clipboard and allows you to delete them.

references