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Copy and Paste

From Mr. Modem’s Weekly Newsletter, Issue 204, January 23, 2004.

Q. Can you please explain to me how to copy and paste? I hear that phrase all the time, but I never really understood what it means. Thanks for being there, Mr. M.

A. Two basic skills all Windows users need include the ability to copy (or cut) and paste, so let’s run through the process from start to finish.

In order to copy anything, you first have to select whatever it is you would like to copy. It might be some text, a graphic, a file -- it can be just about anything you see on screen. To select an object refers to the process of highlighting it. (The terms “select” and “highlight” are frequently used interchangeably.) There are several methods of accomplishing this, so try each of them and use whatever is most comfortable for you.

Method 1: Move your mouse to the beginning of the text you would like to copy. Hold down the left mouse button, then slowly move the mouse to the end of the text, highlighting each word as you go. When the text you want to copy is completely highlighted, release the mouse button. The text will remain highlighted.

Method 2: Click your left mouse button at the beginning of the text you want to select. Then, while holding down the Shift key, move to the end of your text selection and click your left mouse button again. Everything that appears between your first click and your second click will be highlighted.

Method 3: Position your mouse pointer at the beginning of the text you want to copy. Hold down the Shift key and while using your keyboard’s arrow keys, move to the end of the text. Your selected text will be highlighted.

Let the Copying/Pasting Begin!

When you copy something, you’re actually placing it in a portion of Windows’ memory called the clipboard, used for short-term storage. Your selected text will remain in this area until it’s overwritten by new material the next time you copy something.

Continuing where we left off above, you have now highlighted (selected) some text to copy. You can then either click Edit > Copy or you can right-click and select Copy from the menu that appears. Even though it will appear as if nothing happened, you have placed your selected text on the Windows clipboard. Congratulations!

To paste your selected text into a new or second location, simply place your cursor where you want the text to go (called the destination location) and click Edit > Paste or right-click and select Paste from the menu that appears.

Copying vs Cutting

When you copy and paste, you place the item being copied in a second location, so you end up with two items, one in each location. When you cut and paste, you remove an item from its original location and place it in a new location.

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