How to Copy and Paste on Your Computer

By Morgan O'Connor

As you learn to use your computer, you will reach a point when copying and pasting something would be far more convenient than retyping or recreating it. Depending on what you wish to copy and paste, this basic skill can save you a significant amount of time. As you progress in your computer skills, copying and pasting will become an automatic process that requires little thought. For now, though, be careful to press the right combination of keys to avoid accidentally doing something else.

Step 1

Find the text, file or other item you wish to copy. If it is a single item such as a file or folder, simply click it with your mouse to highlight it. If it is a portion of text, highlight the part you want to copy by clicking at the beginning and moving your mouse to the end of the section while holding down the mouse button. Release the button when you have highlighted all the text you wish to copy.

Step 2

On a PC, press and hold down the "Ctrl" key on your keyboard. While you hold this key down, press the "C" key. Release both keys. Your computer will not display anything to let you know that you have copied the text or item in question, so do not worry when this combination of keys appears to do nothing.

Step 3

Navigate to the place where you wish to paste the text or item you previously copied. Click the location where you wish to paste it with your mouse.

Step 4

Press and hold down the "Ctrl" key again. This time, press the "V" key. This pastes whatever you last copied into the location that you just clicked with your mouse.

Step 5

On a Mac, the process and keyboard letters are the same, but use the "Command (Cmd or Apple)" and "C" keys to copy and the "Cmd" and "V" keys to paste.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you wish to cut and paste rather than copy and paste -- thereby moving the text or item rather than just creating a copy of it -- press "Ctrl" and "X" rather than "Ctrl" and "C." When you are ready to paste it, press "Ctrl" and "V" as before.