How to Copy and Paste on Mac

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We all know the shortcuts Cmd+C and Cmd+V but there’s a lot more to learn. Learn all of the ways you can copy and paste on a Mac in this guide.

Copying and pasting is one of the most common things we do on our computers. You can probably use the keyboard shortcuts to do so without even looking at the keys.

If you’re finding that your C and V keys are wearing away from all the copying and pasting you’ve used them for, you’ll be pleased to know that there are plenty of other ways you can copy and paste on your Apple computer.

If you’re ready to go beyond the shortcuts, then here’s how to copy and paste on Mac.

How to Copy and Paste on Mac Using Keyboard Shortcuts

Some keyboard shortcuts are used so frequently that they become part of the language. Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V are the shortcuts for copying and pasting in Windows, and they have become part of many a meme.

As you’d expect, Macs like to do things a little differently, so if you try and copy and paste using Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V, you’re not going to have much luck. Thankfully, you’re not going to need to learn a whole new set of shortcuts, however.

  1. Highlight the text you want to copy.
    mac text to copy
  2. Press Cmd+C to copy it or Cmd+X if you want to cut it. Cutting is the same as copying, but it removes the text rather than leaves it in place.
  3. Navigate to where you want to paste your text and press Cmd+V.
  4. Your text will be pasted.
  5. If you want to paste without formatting, try Cmd+Shift+V or Cmd+Alt+V. The shortcut you need will vary from application to application.

How to Copy and Paste on Mac by Right-Clicking

You can also copy and paste on Mac by using your mouse or trackpad rather than a keyboard shortcut.

  1. Highlight the text you want to copy.
  2. Right-click somewhere in the highlighted text.
  3. Select Copy from the context menu.
    mac copy from context menu
  4. Navigate to where you want to paste the text.
  5. Right-click and select Paste.
    mac paste from context menu
  6. Your text will be pasted in.
  7. You may also have other paste options available in the context menu, depending on the app you’re pasting into. These could be options such as Paste Special, which will allow you to decide the formatting of what you paste, or Paste and Match Style, which will paste your text in the same format as the text in the app you’re pasting into.

How to Copy and Paste on Mac Using Finder

If you want to copy and paste entire files rather than sections of text, you can do this in the Finder app. This allows you to copy files to different folders.

  1. Open Finder and highlight the file or files you want to copy. You can select multiple files by holding down Cmd as you click each file or select a continuous section of files by clicking the first, holding down Shift, and clicking the last.
  2. Once your files are selected, right-click on any of the selected files.
  3. From the context menu, select Copy.
    mac copy in finder
  4. Navigate to the location where you want to paste the file or files and right-click in an empty section of the Finder window.
  5. If you are in list view, clicking in most sections of empty space will select one of the files in the folder. If you right-click just beneath the line above the top file in the list, however, you will access the correct menu. Alternatively, you can use the Finder menu, as explained in the next section.
  6. Select Paste or Paste X Items, and your files will paste into the current folder.
    mac paste in finder

How to Copy and Paste on Mac Using Menus

Most apps will include options to copy and paste within their menus, which can be accessed at the top of your screen when you are using an app.

  1. Select the text, file, or object that you want to copy.
  2. Move your mouse to the top of the screen to bring up the menu bar.
  3. Click Edit.
    mac edit menu
  4. In the Edit menu click Copy.
    mac edit copy
  5. Navigate to where you want to paste.
  6. Click the Edit menu again and select Paste.
    mac edit paste
  7. The contents of your clipboard should now appear.

How to Copy and Paste to Other Apple Devices from a Mac

Handoff is a feature that seems almost like witchcraft. You can copy something on your iPhone, click Paste on your Mac, and whatever you copied on your iPhone will now magically appear on your Mac. It works the other way, too—copy something on your Mac, and you can paste it into an app on your iPhone or iPad.

You’ll need Handoff to be enabled on both your Mac and your iPhone or iPad before you can use this useful feature.

How to Enable Handoff

Handoff can be turned on in Settings, but you’ll need to make sure it’s turned on all of the devices you intend to use it on. If it’s only turned on one device, you’re not going to be able to copy and paste between devices.

  1. On your Mac, open the System Preferences app.
    mac system preferences
  2. Select General.
    mac general settings
  3. At the bottom of the screen, ensure that Allow Handoff Between This Mac and Your iCloud Devices is checked.
    mac allow handoff on mac
  4. Now open the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.
    iphone settings app
  5. Tap General.
    iphone general settings
  6. Select AirPlay & Handoff.
    iphone airplay and handoff settings
  7. Ensure that Handoff is switched to the On position.
    iphone handoff on

How to Copy and Paste Using Handoff

Once you’ve activated Handoff on the relevant devices, you can use it to copy and paste between devices quickly and easily.

  1. On your Mac, highlight some text.
    mac select text
  2. Press Cmd+C to copy it.
  3. Open your iPhone and open the app where you want to paste your text.
    iphone select paste location
  4. Tap and hold where you want the text to appear and select Paste.
    paste iphone
  5. You’ll see a message that Handoff is pasting from your Mac.
    iphone pasting from mac
  6. After a moment your text will appear on your iPhone.
    iphone pasted text
  7. To paste from your iPhone to your Mac, tap and hold on the text or image that you want to copy and select Copy.
    iphone copy image
  8. On your Mac, open the app you want to paste into, place the cursor where you want to paste, and press Cmd+V.
  9. You’ll see a message showing that something is pasting from your iPhone.
    mac pasting from iphone
  10. Your content will paste into your Mac.
    mac pasted from iphone

Learn More About Your Mac

As you can see, there’s a lot more to copying and pasting on a Mac than you might think. There are a lot of other useful Mac features that you may not be fully aware of, too.

For example, you can use Apple Focus on Mac to remove distractions when you’re working. You can AirPlay from your iPhone to your Mac if you want to watch something on a larger screen.

If you’re more Vader than Luke, you can also enable Dark Mode on your Mac to make things easier on your eyes.

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