How to Cut, Copy, and Paste on Windows

Learning ways to cut, copy, and paste on Windows devices can make your work faster and easier. Here are three ways.

The Basics

Cut, copy, and paste can be used to duplicate, delete and moving things around. Whether the thing is text, pictures, documents, or any form of file that needs to be copied or relocated, these tools can get it done.

This post refers to the ITEM that has been selected for applying the cut, copy or paste. The item can be text inside a document, a spreadsheet cell, a file or folder, or almost any other item.

Cut – This will remove the item from its location. The item will be placed on the clipboard, which is an invisible location, where it will remain until another item is placed there, at which time it will be deleted. (See note at end about multiple items on a clipboard.)

From the clipboard, you can paste into as many new locations as required.

Copy – This will make a copy of the item and place it on the clipboard, which will also leave the item in its original location. From the clipboard, you can paste into as many new locations as required.

Paste – This is the tool that takes the item on the clipboard and places it in one or many locations.

The locations can be in different documents, different types of documents and different file directory locations including on external drives.

There are three main methods to using cut, paste, and copy.

Method 1:

Highlight the item (text or files) to be moved, and right click to display a drop-down menu with additional options.

Look for the words cut or copy, and then choose the one that best fits the task. Cut will remove this item from this location, while copy will keep it here.

Move the cursor to the destination position (in the text or in the folder). Right click in that location. Find Paste on the list of items.

Method 2:

The second method is similar to the first, but uses the icons on the ribbon of the program or in File Explorer. Not every program will have these options, but most will.

In Windows 11, the icons will not have names as shown in this red box. We have added the names above in red.

Windows 11 Ribbon buttons

Method 3:

The third, and most efficient method, is using keyboard shortcuts.

Select the item (text or files) and use the two keys Crtl and X simultaneously to cut, or Ctrl and C to copy. When you have repositioned to the new location press Ctrl and V together to paste.

An easy way to remember these keys is that X looks like a pair of scissors for cut. C represents copy, and V is next to the other two for easy access.

Other details

Here is Microsoft’s video of using cut, copy and paste in Office 365 apps. There are nuances to using these techniques in different locations, and with different items. Try it out and ask us if you have questions.

Windows has settings for enabling more than one item on the clipboard at a time. To enable multiple items, type “clipboard settings” into the Windows search bar. Turn on Clipboard history.

Following these steps cut, copy, and paste on a Windows computer should become second nature.

If you have any questions or our terminology wasn’t clear, please use our contact form to send us a message. Thanks!

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