Windows Copy and Paste Tutorial


In Microsoft Windows, there is something called a clipboard that can be used to store things temporarily, then those things can be “Pasted” in another document, or in another place in the same document. The clipboard only holds an item until you copy or cut something else, then that new item replaces the older one. There are some third party utilities that you can install that will hold more than one selection at a time, but the clipboard in Win 95 and 98 is limited to one. When you Paste what is in the clipboard, it does not empty it, you can paste the same thing as many times as you want, as long as you do not put something else in the clipboard and overwrite it.

You Cut, Copy or Capture something to the clipboard, then Paste it into a document.

Before you can cut or copy, you have to mark or highlight what you want to cut or copy. There are several ways to mark or highlight text. The most common and usually the easiest way to mark a selection is to drag the mouse pointer over the selection while holding down the left button. This usually works for both text and graphics, but, nothing works all of the time.

In some applications, but not all: Move the cursor to one end of the selection, hold down the shift key and use the arrow keys and/or page up and page down to move to the other end before releasing the shift key. This works especially well in Word or any application where the mouse scrolls it to fast to control where you want to stop.

Double click on a word to highlight it, triple click within a paragraph to highlight it.


Copy and Cut both place the selected object in the clipboard, but when you Cut, you cut a piece out of, and remove it from the original, and when you copy, you only copy it and leave the original as it was.

You can only CUT from something that you can edit, you cannot cut from someone else's web page, a help file or anything that you cannot alter, but you can Copy from most of these. Once you have the selection highlighted, to copy it you can sometimes go to the edit menu and select “Copy” (and sometimes “Cut”) This places the selection in the “Clip Board,” There is a keyboard shortcut to cut and copy, Hold down the “Ctrl” key while pressing the “c” key to COPY, and hold down the “Ctrl” key while pressing the “x” key to CUT.

In some applications, after the selection is made, you can click the right mouse button to get a drop down window where you can select “Cut” or “Copy”

Another way to fill the Clip Board is a screen capture: there is a “Print Screen” somewhere near the upper right of the keyboard. If you press that, everything that is currently displayed on your screen is captured in the clipboard. This is a graphic, so it can only be pasted into a graphics program, like Paint for instance. You can capture only the active window on the screen by holding down the “Alt” button while pressing the “Print Screen” button.

Now, we have something in the Clip Board, we have to put it someplace, text can be pasted into a word processing program, an email or something of that ilk. Graphics, such as a screen capture or a picture have to be pasted into something that understands how to handle graphics, like the Windows Paint program or another graphics editing program.

To paste what is in the clipboard, you can sometimes find a paste command in the edit menu of the program you want to paste into, or you can use the keyboard shortcut, [Ctrl] – [v]. I read somewhere that “V” stands for “Vaste,” the Russian word for Paste, but I am more inclined to think that the “v” was chosen for it's keyboard proximity to the “x” and “c”

As with cut and copy, you can sometimes click the right mouse button to get a dropdown window, and if there is something in the clipboard, you can select “Paste.”

Some things you think you have captured don't paste as you think they should, Web pages are seldom what they appear to be. You can usually paste a web page, or part of one into MS Word, graphics and all, then sort out what you really want from there. I imagine that Word Perfect would work too.

Remember, if you didn't write it, it is not yours! There is a thing called an implied copyright, meaning that even if there is no copyright notice on something, it still belongs to the originator, and you should have permission before copying it.


  • [Ctrl] – [c] = Copy to clipboard
  • [Ctrl] – [x] = Cut to clipboard
  • [Alt] – [Print Screen] = Copy active window to clipboard
  • [Print Screen] = Copy entire screen to clipboard
  • [Ctrl] – [v] = Paste from clipboard

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Last updated, April 12, 2002