How Do You Copy and Paste In Windows?

Learning how to copy and paste is a very useful skill when using a Windows computer and it is very easy to do. There are several ways of doing it too, so if one method suits you better than the others, stick with that.

Copying and pasting can be used for many purposes. For example when researching a new topic for my articles here on HubPages, I collect source material by copying and pasting useful bits of relevant information into my notepad program to use as a reference when I am compiling my article.

The methods outlined below are for copying portions of text or individual images for pasting elsewhere. If you want to capture a screenshot, (take a copy of your computer screen), please see my other hub How Do You Do A Screenshot in Windows Using Copy and Paste?

The Three Simple Steps You Need

Basically the operation of copy and paste involves three simple steps

  1. selecting a piece of text or an image
  2. copying the selected text or image to the Windows clipboard
  3. pasting the selected text or image to the desired position in whatever document you want to place it.

Do not worry if you do not know how to do any of the three steps above, I am going to walk you through it.

How To Select Text

Selecting Text or a web page comprising both Text and Images is also referred to as highlighting - you will see why from the images I have provided. The selected text is highlighted in a different color, making it easy to see that you have captured what you want, in full, before you copy it to the clipboard.

I am going to show you three methods to grab the text or picture you want. There are other methods but these are the simplest and there probably isn't any need to learn another way of doing it!

This is how the selected portion of text looks when it is highlighted - so you can always be sure that you have captured the text that you want!
This is how the selected portion of text looks when it is highlighted - so you can always be sure that you have captured the text that you want! | Source

Selecting Text Using A Mouse

First of all, I will show you the most useful method and the one that you are likely to use most often.

You will see from the image above that I have highlighted a paragraph from this article to demonstrate the process.

1. Move your mouse so that the cursor is pointing to the beginning of the text you want to highlight. Most people have their mouse set up to be a pointer when moving around the screen and changing to a vertical line or cursor when you are ready to select something.

2. Hold down your left mouse button and move the cursor to the end of the text you want to copy and then release your mouse button.

3. The text you want to copy will then be highlighted.

Top Tips When Selecting Text

  1. If you have let go of your mouse button prematurely and you are a word or two short, hold down the shift key and tap the right arrow key on your keypad and the highlighting will extend, one character for each key tap to highlight those extra few words as well. If you highlight a little too much text, hold down the shift key and tap the left arrow key to go back a few characters.
  2. If you feel you have messed it up completely, click anywhere on the screen with your left mouse button (without using any other key on the keypad) and the highlighting will disappear and you can start again!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Use the right mouse button on any web page or document to see the menu containing the select all optionChoose the select all option from the menu that comes up by clicking using your left mouse button
Use the right mouse button on any web page or document to see the menu containing the select all option
Use the right mouse button on any web page or document to see the menu containing the select all option | Source
Choose the select all option from the menu that comes up by clicking using your left mouse button
Choose the select all option from the menu that comes up by clicking using your left mouse button | Source

Selecting Text Using The Right Mouse Click

If you want to select EVERYTHING on a web page or in a document, the easiest way to do it is to use your right mouse button.

In practice, this is more useful for selecting text in documents as many webpages have all sorts of other things that you will not want to select (such as menus, links and advertisements).

With the mouse cursor positioned anywhere on the page you want to copy, right click your mouse.

You will see a menu pop up that gives you the option to 'select all'. Use the left mouse button to select this option and it will highlight everything on the page.

Selecting Text Using CTRL and A

This method works exactly the same as the right mouse click method above and is only suitable if you want to copy ALL the information on a web page (this will include images and advertisements as well) or a whole document. Whilst you have the page you want to copy on your screen, hold down the CTRL button (normally found bottom left hand corner of your keyboard) and whilst holding it down, click the letter A button (does not matter if it is upper or lowercase). As in the Right Mouse method above, everything on the page will be highlighted when you do this (you can release the CTRL and A buttons immediately).

Copying Selected Text to the Windows Clipboard

Once you have highlighted the text you want to copy, it is very simple to copy it to the Windows Clipboard, by whichever method you choose. Here are the main (and easiest) methods.

  1. Hold down the CTRL button and whilst holding it click the letter C button (again, it does not matter whether this is upper or lower case and you can immediately release both buttons and the text will have been copied to the Clipboard.
  2. Click the right mouse button and a menu will come up which gives you the option to 'COPY'. Click on this option and your text will immediately be copied to the Clipboard.

Pasting Text from the Clipboard to Your Chosen Destination

You might want to copy text into Notepad, a Word Processing Application or into an email. Wherever you want to copy it, the method is the same. Select the position you want the text to be pasted by moving your mouse cursor there. You can then, either:

  1. Hold down the CTRL button and whilst holding it click the letter V button. Your text will immediately be pasted, beginning at the point where you positioned your mouse cursor.
  2. Click the right mouse button and from the menu that comes up, click on the option 'PASTE'. Your text will immediately be pasted beginning where your mouse cursor was positioned.

This is how the text I highlighted and copied looks after pasting it into my Microsoft Word processing program
This is how the text I highlighted and copied looks after pasting it into my Microsoft Word processing program | Source

Top Tip When Pasting Information

If you have several pieces of information to copy and paste, you must do them one at a time.

If you do not paste what is on the Clipboard to where you want it, BEFORE you copy a new piece of information, this new text will overwrite what you have just put onto the Clipboard and you will lose it! The Clipboard can only store one copied piece of information at a time.

Copying and Pasting Images

If you only want to copy an image, not the surrounding text, the easiest way to do it is to:

  1. Position your mouse cursor over the image
  2. Click your right mouse button and select 'copy image' from the menu that comes up
  3. Choose whichever of the two pasting options mentioned above that you prefer to paste the image where you want to put it.

A Copied and Pasted Image

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Here is a picture of my dog, Murdoch that I have decided to copy from one of my hubs. Notice the menu that pops up when you position your mouse cursor over the image and then click the right mouse button.This is how the image looks after I have gone to my photo editing software and used the CTRL and V option to pste it
Here is a picture of my dog, Murdoch that I have decided to copy from one of my hubs. Notice the menu that pops up when you position your mouse cursor over the image and then click the right mouse button.
Here is a picture of my dog, Murdoch that I have decided to copy from one of my hubs. Notice the menu that pops up when you position your mouse cursor over the image and then click the right mouse button. | Source
This is how the image looks after I have gone to my photo editing software and used the CTRL and V option to pste it
This is how the image looks after I have gone to my photo editing software and used the CTRL and V option to pste it | Source

An IMPORTANT Word About Copyright

You should never copy and paste anyone's work without their permission and/or without proper attribution.

So for example, if you decided you wanted to copy a really good quotation from someone's Hub, you should always ask them first if it is a sizeable chunk of information and at the very least, provide a link back to the original, citing this as your source.

Failure to do this can get you into all sorts of trouble with copyright. It is acceptable to copy pieces of information for your own use at home though, as long as you never publish it or claim it as your own work.

Did You Find This Tutorial Helpful?

Sometimes I struggle to understand how to do things on my Computer so I am compiling this series of tutorial articles to help others to understand the basics that make using a Computer so much more enjoyable.

Copying and Pasting is a basic skill and one with many uses - but it is one that quite a few people have difficulty with. If anything in this tutorial is not clear to you, it is my fault, not yours! Please let me know which bit you found difficult to understand and I will work on it to improve it!

If you have want to learn how to do something on a Windows computer, please leave me a comment with your request and if I can, I will make a Hub about it, just for you!

© 2013 Alison Graham

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Comments 12 comments

Alison Graham profile image

Alison Graham 3 years ago from UK Author

thanks @Brenda Durham - I have been trying to create articles that make easy to follow tutorials for beginners. This one on copy and paste sounds very simple but there are lots of ways to do it so it was as hard to know what to leave out as to know what to put in!


Brenda Durham 3 years ago

Alison, thanks so much; cool hub!


Alison Graham profile image

Alison Graham 3 years ago from UK Author

thanks @Aplethora23 for your lovely comment which is much appreciated. Yes my little dog is a real character and a very special member of our family. Thank you again, Alison


Aplethora23 profile image

Aplethora23 3 years ago from North Cali

Alison,

I am always so curious to see the variety of topics that people write about, and publish on Hub Pages. How smart of you to publish a series of tutorials to help people learn computer savvy ness. Great idea. Cute little dog, awesome name Murdoch & adorable little doggie pillow behind him too. Voted up & Useful.

Congratulations on HOD!!!


Beverley Byer 3 years ago

Thank you for this article. Informative & appreciated!


thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 3 years ago from India

Simple topic explained beautifully.

Your dog looks cute...

Congrats on hub of the day.


cfin profile image

cfin 3 years ago from The World we live in

Well put together.


Thelma Alberts profile image

Thelma Alberts 3 years ago from Germany

Congrats on the HOTD! This is a very easy to follow instruction. How I wish I have read this one a year ago. Thanks for sharing. Voted up and useful.


Alison Graham profile image

Alison Graham 3 years ago from UK Author

Thanks for the useful tip @Thief12 - that's really useful to know.


Alison Graham profile image

Alison Graham 3 years ago from UK Author

Thanks @Heather Says, I really appreciate your comment and the congrats!


Thief12 profile image

Thief12 3 years ago from Puerto Rico

Great hub! and congrats on HOTD.

Another useful tip is that if you're selecting more than one word with the mouse, you don't have to start at the precise beginning of the first word. You can click anywhere in the first word, and when you drag your mouse to the second one, Word will select the first whole word.

I always find that tip useful because lots of people have problem handling the mouse on the edge of the page to select the beginning of a word.


Heather Says profile image

Heather Says 3 years ago from Buckeye, Arizona

Your included images are great. Congrats on hub of the day :)

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