How to Copy & Paste in Photoshop

Like most computer programs, Adobe Photoshop allows you to copy and paste selections to create duplicates or move data from one file to another. Unlike simpler image editing programs, however, copying and pasting in Photoshop requires an awareness of image layers, positioning, color settings and size. The program also provides several advanced types of copying and pasting to help edit your image just the way you want it.

A female graphic artist sits in front of her computer
Image Credit: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images

Step 1

Click either the Marquee tool or the Lasso tool icon. Marquee allows you to select a predefined shape, while with the lasso you can draw your own selection. To pick an alternate version of the tool -- such as an elliptical marquee instead of a rectangular marquee -- right-click on the tool's icon.

Step 2

Click and drag on an image to select the area you want to copy. If you need to add additional parts to your selection, click the "Add to Selection" icon, which looks like two overlapping squares, and select another part of the image.

Step 3

Press "Control-C" to copy the selected part of the current layer. Alternatively, press "Shift-Control-C" to copy a merged version of all layers.

Step 4

Open the image you want to paste into.

Step 5

Press "Control-V" to paste the selection. It will appear on a new layer in the center of the image, after which you can position it using the Move Tool.

Tip

Photoshop offers a few alternate types of pasting. For example, pressing "Shift-Control-V" will paste the copy in the same relative area on the destination image instead of placing it in the center of the image. Pressing "Alt-Shift-Control-V" after selecting an area on your destination image will place the copied data inside the selected area, hiding any parts that fall outside of the selection.

If you prefer not to use hotkeys, open the "Edit" menu to access all methods of copying and pasting.

To copy a selection to another area in the same image, hold "Alt" while dragging with the Move Tool.

Warning

When copying, the image data retains its original pixel resolution. If you paste into an image with a different size or resolution, the pasted image may appear larger or smaller than it originally did. To avoid this, either resize the image before copying or use Free Transform to resize the pasted material.

If you paste into an image with different color settings, the pasted data will match the destination's settings rather than the origin's settings. For example, pasting a colored selection into a grayscale image will turn the selection gray.

Information in this article applies to Adobe Photoshop CC. It may vary slightly or significantly in other versions.

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