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How to copy and paste on your Mac

How to Copy and Paste on a Mac

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Are you trying to move text or an image from one place to another? Want to save time in your workflow? 

Knowing how to copy and paste on your Mac allows you to do both of these things. In this article, the following will be discussed.

  • How to copy and paste text on Mac
  • How do you copy and paste using the Mac keyboard shortcuts
  • How to copy an image on Mac
  • How do you copy and paste a link on Mac
  • How to copy on one device and paste on another
  • What apps make copying and pasting even better

How to copy and paste text on a Mac

This section is all about getting text from one place to another. Maybe you want to highlight an address and paste it into a conversation so you can meet someone for dinner or you want to add something to your notes to save for later. 

In this section, we will look at how to copy and paste text.

1. Highlight the text that you want to copy on your Mac. This can be done by dragging your cursor over the text and clicking the mouse or trackpad at the same time.

2. Two-finger click or click the lower right-hand side of your trackpad if you’re on a MacBook. If you’re using a mouse then right-click on the mouse over the highlighted text.

3. A contextual pop-up menu will then appear where you will want to choose the option “Copy”.

Copy and paste via contextual menu4. Go to where you want to put the text that you copied and click the text field to place your cursor there.

Contextual menu

5. Two-finger click or right-click the lower right-hand side of your trackpad on your MacBook. If not on a MacBook, then right-click your mouse. A contextual menu will appear again, click the “Paste” option and the text will then appear where your cursor was.

Pro tip: you can choose the “Cut” option from the contextual menu if you don’t want to make a copy of it but would rather move the text to another place.

How do you copy and paste using the Mac keyboard shortcuts

Mac’s have tons of shortcuts that many may not know about. They can help you save a lot of time in your daily work which means you can be done sooner! 

You can view a list of all of the Mac shortcuts here on Apple’s website but today we’re going to look at ones that are specific to copying and pasting.

Instead of using two-finger clicks or right-clicks, you can simply press Command-C to copy and Command-P to paste. This will allow you to skip going through the contextual menus that were discussed earlier.

All that you have to do is have the text highlighted and then press those key commands and boom! You can save yourself a ton of time since your hands are already on your keyboard.

Pro tip: Command-X can be used as a shortcut for the “Cut” option.

How do I copy an image on my Mac?

1. If you’re trying to copy a picture, image, or screenshot and then share it with someone else, then this section is for you.

2. After finding an image that you want to copy, two-finger click or press the bottom right-hand side of your trackpad if on a MacBook. If you’re using a mouse, you can right-click on the mouse. A contextual menu will then popup.

From there, select the “Copy Image” option and the image will then be copied to your clipboard. 

Pro tip: your clipboard is just a name for where anything you copy is stored until you paste it. Only one thing can be saved at a time but that can be changed with other apps which are discussed later in the article.

Copy and Paste Image on your Mac

3. Put your cursor where you would like to paste the image and use the contextual menu to paste it or you use the keyboard shortcut Command-P.

How do I copy and paste a link on my Mac?

Copying a link can be done just as you would copy text. Links can be displayed a few different ways though so let’s take a look at how to copy each of them.

To copy a plain link that isn’t masked by another word (this is called a hyperlink), highlight it and then copy it like you would text which was discussed above in “How do I copy and paste text”.

Let’s say you want to share an app that you found on MacUpdate with a friend. We can share it with them by doing the following steps. Keep in mind that this will work on any other website where you click something and there is a link behind it.

1. Two-finger click or press the bottom right-hand side of your trackpad if you’re on a MacBook. If you’re using a mouse, you can right-click on the mouse. A contextual menu will then popup displaying options to you.

Contextual menu when copying images

 

2. You will then want to choose the “Copy Link Address” option which will give you the link behind the name “Spotify” and it will look like this “https://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/33033/spotify” when you paste it and share it with someone else.

Pro Tip: A hyperlink is a word being masked with something behind it. See how using the word “Spotify” is much nicer than reading the whole URL and having to understand what “https://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/33033/spotify” means. A hyperlink simply allows you to assign a word to a destination.

How to copy on one device and paste on another

Being able to copy something on your Mac and then paste it on your iPhone makes getting information from one device to another even easier. Apple introduced Continuity which allows your iOS and macOS devices to talk and exchange information with one another.

With these features came a universal clipboard that works between any Apple device that you own. Click here to make sure that your devices can run Continuity. You will also have to have each device signed in with the same Apple ID.

The process is easy to set up and is free. If you want to know how to use “Universal Clipboard”, visit “Use Universal Clipboard to copy and paste between your Apple devices” to get a walkthrough on this feature.

What apps make copying and pasting even better?

Want to bring your copy and paste game to the next level? 

If so, check out these apps below as they will enable you to be a pro at copying and pasting. Not only will these make your life easier, but they will make you more productive:

  • Paste is my favorite clipboard manager app and I have been using it for years. It offers a beautiful and easy-to-understand interface that will allow you to keep a history of everything that you have copied and pasted over the past day, week, month, or an unlimited amount of time. Paste also has an iOS companion app so anything that you copy on your Mac you can view there as well. The app comes with a free trial and I would highly recommend that you try it out.
  • Unclutter allows you to go above just copying and pasting with the ability to store notes, files, and pasteboard clips on your Mac Desktop. The app comes with a free trial and is well worth the asking price of $19.99.
  • CopyClip is a free to use copy and paste app. Once installed there will be a menu bar icon that will display a list of everything that you have copied. You can view the history of it there and select what you want to paste.

 

Written by Joel Lockard

Joel Lockard has had a love for technology his whole life. He works as a flight instructor and when not flying spends his time tinkering with technology especially Apple-related tech and Mac apps. His love for technology leads him to join the MacUpdate team where he gets to discover and write about Mac apps, its the best of both worlds.

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