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Cut/Copy/Paste (101)

Very handy commands and are universally available in Windows and most applications.  These processes use the computer's clipboard to temporarily store whatever it is you are copying. 


There are some applications available that will show whatever is on the clipboard but we have not worked with any other than InfraView which by the way, is a great little image manipulator application. If you decide to install IrfanView, get it from reputable site!  Downloading stuff discussed here

How to...

You can cut, copy and paste using the keyboard (quickest):
Ctrl+X cuts, Ctrl+C copies and Ctrl+V pastes. 

Or you could right click using the mouse then click the desired operation. Here we highlighted/selected "can use the mouse" then right clicked.

Note: If you paste with something highlighted, that highlighted data is replaced with the pasted data.

Alt click

Keyboard hints: Since this is Computers 101, the keyboard process is achieved by holding the Ctrl (control) key and touching the X, C or V keys then releasing the Ctrl key.  The secondary key touch is not case sensitive, so either Ctrl+X and Ctrl+x.  Same for the Alt and Windows keys.

Task Manager is opened by holding Ctrl AND Alt, then pressing Del once...

  • It really pays to learn the keyboard shortcuts as they are much quicker than using the mouse for most operations. 

    In whatever application, open the Edit (and other) menus and look at the keyboard shortcuts.

    Microsoft Office introduced "Ribbons" a while back that do not offer a menu like the one to the right.  But you can still find the keyboard shortcut for operation by hovering over the desired button.

    office hints
shortcut hints

You can use the mouse to highlight/select text by holding a click and dragging the (mouse) cursor over a word, sentence or paragraph.  In most applications you can also  
double clickdouble clickdouble click
 click a word to select just that word and triple click to grab the entire paragraph. 
But often, trying to select a single word using the mouse will also grab the space character to the right of the word.  So if you are trying to select and copy a password, that extra space would likely result in a bad password error. extra space

If you want detailed control over your selection, use the keyboard! 

What to...

Copy and paste is not always as clean as you may think.  For example, copying something from the Internet will copy the formatting and any links within, which appear upon pasting.  Here we have copied a line from the Annandale Lions site and directly pasted:

For over fifty years the Annandale Lions Club

As you can see, it brought over the formatting and the link.  If we wanted just the plain text there are a couple options: 

Windows run

Many applications have a paste special feature that allows for various type of pasting.  This image is from Microsoft's Word and for our purposes we would select Unformatted Text (which is plain text).

Word paste special

Some applications have other unique paste options, Excel for example has a variety of paste options.  One handy one we wish was a bit easier to find is the Paste Link.  This is one way you can get data from one worksheet to a different worksheet.

Excel paste

Copying/moving files or entire folders is quick and easy in the Windows File Explorer (the folder icon in the Taskbar), but doing so can also cause problems and unfortunately this is really easy to do if you're not paying attention!

A few times a year, we see computers where people have accidentally drug a folder or file into another folder and sometimes not realizing it until they looked for that item. 

If you think you may have done that, you can use Undo (see below).

folder copy

If you want a separate and distinct file as an archive file, make a copy.  To copy a file simply right click, drag and drop (or Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V).  Windows creates a copy of the file and adds " - Copy" to the end of the file name. 

 If you decide to rename the copied file, be careful not to change the extension (if shown) as Windows will no longer know what that file is.  See extensions for more information.


If you want yet another copy, drag and drop the original and you will get " - Copy(2)."

Copy again

Once copied, you can work with the original (or the copy) without fear, however, this is not universally the case! Some applications like accounting software have many related data files.  For this type of software you must use the software's backup utility before experimenting with the data.

You can also copy and paste images/picture to and from various applications but there are limitations and potential issues, for example: 

You can copy what you see on your computer using the Print Screen command (PrintScrn key on keyboard), which is in the upper row, right of the Function keys (F1, F2...) on a regular keyboard.  On a laptop you'll have to look around. 

Unlike it's origins and namesake, PrintScrn does not immediately print what you see, rather it creates and image on the computer's clipboard (discussed above). From there you can then paste it to Word, Excel, Irfanview, etc. 

Print Screen takes a snapshot of the entire screen but has a nice feature whereas Alt+PrintScrn takes a snapshot of only the active window.  So (below) instead of a snapshot of our two-monitor system, Alt+PrintScrn would have captured only our editing application (boxed in red). 

print screen

Note: You can also use Windows snipping tool, just type snippingtool in Windows run.



Also mostly universal is Undo (Ctrl+Z) and Redo (Ctrl+Y) are very handy but there caveats.  Here are just a few:

Undo Examples:

Within an application like Word and Excel, you can Undo many times either by Ctrl+Z over and over or using the built-in Undo shortcut.  You may even be able to Undo back to the original document.  Here is Word's Undo shortcut (found at the top in Word's Quick Access Toolbar).  We have opened it using the little down arrow to show everything available to Undo.  If we selected the bottom Typing item, we would have undone everything.  Next one up Undoes "alll," the next one Undoes "good" and so on...

Most applications have some type of Autocorrect/Autoformat feature that changes what you type to a more conventional or modern syntax.  Example:  Typing then pressing spacebar or enter will automatically create a link as it did here.  But if we did not want a link, we would Ctrl+Z immediately after it AutoFormatted and have just the text

Word undo

Word autoformat

In Windows we have renamed one file, moved another then Undone (Undid?) the move.  So Windows is allowing us to Undo the name or Redo the move.


Windows Undo