The command to copy and paste on a Mac differs from the same key combination on a Windows platform. If you are new at using a Mac, this might confuse you. This article will explain the different ways on how to copy and paste an image, text, link, or any file on a Mac computer.
- Copy and paste on a Mac using the keyboard.
- Copy and paste on a Mac using the context menu.
- Copy and paste using the menu bar.
- Copy and paste between Apple devices.
Before we start
Since duplicate files can be scattered over your disk and have different names, you might not know about them. To clean up those duplicates and free up space on your Mac, you can use a free application called Duplicate File Finder.
Duplicate File Finder
How to copy and paste on a Mac using the keyboard
If you like using Mac keyboard shortcuts, then you will like this method.
Copy and Paste keys on a Mac:
- Command+C – to copy a picture, text, or any file on Mac. Just select the item and press this key combination.
- Command+X – to cut the text or any file. Use this combination if you want to delete the item after pasting it into another location.
- Command+V – to paste a picture, text, or any file you copied or cut. Before you press this shortcut, go to the location in Finder or position the cursor in the text document where you want to paste the item.
As you can see, the main difference between Windows and Mac is the key you need to press. On a Mac, this is the Command key which has the ⌘ symbol. It is located next to the space bar on your keyboard.
How to copy and paste text on a Mac without the style formatting
By default, copying and pasting saves the text formatting style (font, size, etc.). However, this might be annoying when you have different formatting in the documents you are working on.
In most cases, you can avoid pasting text with the previous formatting. For this, you need the Shift key.
Follow these steps to paste text on Mac without its style formatting:
- Select the text you want to copy.
- Press the Command+C to copy it (or Command+X to cut it).
- Go to the location where you want to place the text.
- Press Shift+Command+V.
How to copy and paste on a Mac using the context menu
If you prefer using a mouse for a Mac or trackpad on your MacBook, you can use the alternative right-click method to copy and paste.
Steps to copy and paste an image (text or any file) on Mac:
- Place your cursor on the file in Finder or select text in your document that you want to copy.
- Right-click on it (use your mouse, trackpad, or hold and press the Control key until it clicks.)
- In the context menu, select Copy.
- Go to the location where you want to paste the copied item.
- Right-click again, and in the context menu, select Paste.
How to copy and paste a link on a Mac
- If you want to copy and paste a link instead of a simple text from a text document, you can use the context menu again.
- Right-click on the link in your text document.
- In the context menu, select the Copy link URL option.
- Place the cursor on the place where you want to paste the link.
- Press the Command+V shortcut or right-click and select Paste from the context menu.
How to copy and paste on Mac using the menu bar
Most applications, including Finder on Macs, provide the Copy and Paste commands in the menu bar. They are located in the Edit section. If, for any reason, you can use neither the shortcut nor the context menu to copy and paste on your Mac, use this method.
Steps to copy an image on a Mac:
- Select the image (or any item) you want to copy.
- Go to the menu bar and click on Edit.
- In the drop-down menu, select Copy (or Сut).
- In Finder, go to the folder where you want to place the selected item.
- Click on Edit and select Paste Item.
Steps to copy and paste text on a Mac using the menu bar:
- We will show an example of copying and pasting text in Google Docs.
- Select the text you want to copy.
- In the menu bar, choose Edit → Copy (or Cut).
- Move the cursor to the place in your document where you want to paste the text.
- Go to the menu bar → select Edit → Paste.
If you want to paste the text without its original formatting style, select Paste and Match Style in the drop-down menu. The text will automatically be formatted in the style of the document you are copying it into.
How to copy and paste between Apple devices
Before we finish this article, we want to share one more helpful tip for Apple users. Since the launch of the Universal Clipboard in macOS Sierra in 2016, you can copy and paste images and text between your Mac computer and iPhone or iPad.
To use this option, you need to log in to your iCloud account on both of your devices. As long as this feature is enabled, it’s super easy:
- Select the text or image on your Mac and press Command+C to copy it.
- Open the application on your iPhone/iPad where you want to paste the item.
- Tap on the screen and select Paste.
The procedure to copy and paste an item from your iPhone to your Mac is the same. First, copy the item on your iPhone, then open a document on your Mac and press the Command+V shortcut. Note: there might be a few seconds delay for pasting.
As you can see, copying and pasting on a Mac is easy. Like on Windows, you can use short key combinations – the Command+C shortcut for copying, the Command+X shortcut for cutting, and the Command+V shortcut for pasting. Use them to transfer any item on a Mac – text fragments, links, photos, videos, music, etc.
Does a Mac have a clipboard like on Windows?
The clipboard on Mac differs from the clipboard on Windows. In Windows, you can copy up to 24 items from the Microsoft Office documents and then select which items to paste; however, you can see only the last copied item in the clipboard on a Mac.
How do you copy and paste from a clipboard on a Mac?
As mentioned before, Mac’s clipboard shows only the last copied item. To open the clipboard, do the following:
- Open Finder.
- In the Finder’s menu, click Edit.
- Select Show Clipboard.
- You will see a window showing the last copied text or the name + additional data of the previously copied file.
How do I enable Ctrl+C on a Mac?
By default, to copy on Mac, you need to use the Command+C shortcut. If you want to enable the Ctrl+C shortcut for the copying command, you can set it up in the Mac shortcuts.
- Open System Preferences → go to the Keyboard section.
- In the Keyboard tab, click the Modifier Keys… button
- For the Control Key, select Command. For the Command Key, select Control.
- Click OK.
After this, on Mac, you can use the Ctrl+C shortcut to copy files, texts, and other items.
Why can’t I copy and paste on my Mac to an external hard drive?
If you can’t copy and paste files from Mac to an external hard drive, most likely that your external hard drive doesn’t have the Read & Write permissions. To give permission, do the following:
- In Finder, right-click on your external drive → select Get Info.
- In the Sharing & Permissions section, check the Permission.
- Click the Lock icon.
- Enter your username and your password.
- Select Read & Write for the privilege type.
- Click the Lock icon again and try to copy files to your external drive.