You might be here because you’re new to using a Mac. Maybe you just bought one, or someone gave one to you for work or school. Or, you could be here because you’ve had a Mac for a while, but you’ve just forgotten how to copy and paste on Mac OS.
Regardless of why you’re here, copying and pasting on a Mac is quite simple. It may seem as though the functions of Macs and macOS are different, but the truth is they’re actually quite similar to those on Windows. Instead of CTRL + C, on a Mac keyword, you simply press Command ⌘ + C.
Here’s how to copy and paste on MacBook Pros and any other macOS machine. The techniques listed below will work for text, files, and media.
Using a Keyboard to Copy and Paste on a Mac
One of the most noticeable things that differentiate a Mac from a Windows computer is the keyboard.
It might look and feel daunting, but it’s not too different from the type of keyboard you’d see on a Windows PC. Fortunately, almost everything you encounter on an app will tell you which buttons you need to press to perform a specific action. In this case, it’s how to copy and paste on a Mac.
As you can see in the image above, the Windows and Alt keys have been replaced with Command (⌘, “cmd”) and Option (⌥) on a Mac. Where you would typically see the Alt key on a Windows computer, now you see Command. And, where you would generally see the Windows key, you now have the Option key.
That’s all well and good, but you’re probably still asking, “so, how do I copy and paste on a Mac?”
To copy, simply highlight whatever you want to get on your clipboard. Then, it’s time to press the buttons to get them copied.
When you’re on a Windows device, you copy by pressing Control + C. When it comes to how to copy on MacBook Pros and Airs (or any Mac), it’s Command ⌘ + C. Command ⌘ + C is essentially the CTRL + C on Mac. And that’s it — that’s how to copy on Mac keyboard options.
Pasting is similar. Instead of Control + V, it’s Command ⌘ + V. To paste, simply click on whichever app or program you want to paste into and press Command ⌘ + V.
And that’s it! Learning how to copy and paste on MacBook machines is truly simple.
How to Copy and Paste on Your Mac Using a Mouse and Menus
Sometimes, you can’t or don’t want to use a keyboard, but you might still need to copy and paste something. But do you know how to copy and paste on a Mac without using the keyboard? If you don’t, no worries — here’s how.
There’s an easy way to copy and paste content from your clipboard using just your mouse or trackpad and your Mac’s context and app menus.
The first thing you need to do is select the content you want to copy. You can click and drag over text using your mouse/trackpad. Then, you can right-click or two-finger tap on your trackpad to bring up the context menu.
On the context menu, simply click on “Copy” to add the text to your clipboard.
If you’re trying to copy an image or file, you can simply right-click or two-finger tap to bring up the context menu right away. Then, follow the same step of clicking “Copy.”
To paste, go to your destination document or app and right-click to bring up the context menu. Click on “Paste,” and that should be it!
You also have the option of using the top menu bars on whichever app you’re using. Highlight the text you want to copy, then move your cursor up to the top of your Mac’s screen to bring up the top app menu.
Then, click on “Copy” if you want to copy and “Paste” if you’re going to paste.
How to Copy and Paste Between Your Apple Devices
People who switch to Macs are often already users of the Apple ecosystem. If they’re not, they may eventually start changing to iDevices simply because of the many benefits the ecosystem may offer.
One benefit, in particular, is the ability to copy and paste across compatible devices without having to do anything special or install anything new.
If you have a Mac and an iPhone or iPad (or both), you can start copy-pasting across your devices, provided they support the Continuity feature. As long as all of your devices are compatible, you can take advantage of Universal Clipboard and Continuity.
To be compatible, your Mac needs to be running macOS Sierra or higher, and your device needs to be running the latest version of iOS.
What is Continuity?
Continuity is a set of features added by Apple a few generations ago that makes it possible to effortlessly transfer calls, texts, and work across all your devices and Mac products.
Under the Continuity umbrella, you’ll find various features like phone call forwarding, Handoff, text forwarding, and personal hotspot setup.
With Continuity, you can use your Mac to compose an email, edit a contact, browse websites, etc. Then, when you want to move to your iDevice (or other Mac computer), you can pick up right where you left off. Or, you can start on an iDevice and transfer to your Mac — it works both ways.
Continuity will only work on the following:
- Mac machines that are late 2013 model or newer
- iPod touch 5th generation or newer
- iPhone 5 or newer
- iPad 4th generation or newer
- iPad Air 2 or newer
- iPad mini, iPad mini with Retina Display, iPad mini 3 or newer
What is Universal Clipboard?
Falling under the Continuity umbrella, Universal Clipboard uses iCloud to allow you to copy and paste between your Mac and iDevices. Universal Clipboard works by syncing your clipboard to iCloud.
Here are a few things to remember when using Universal Clipboard:
- You can only copy and paste one thing at a time.
- Anything you copy to your clipboard will expire when two minutes have passed, meaning you will have to work fast.
- This feature works when copying from any app but works best on native Apple apps.
Copy and Paste Macbook — Continuity Feature
Here’s how to copy and paste on a MacBook Pro using Continuity.
First, remember that all devices must be synced to the same iCloud account. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi must be enabled. People have stated that mobile data can work, but not too reliably.
Once everything is good to go, you can begin.
- From your iDevice, highlight the text you want to copy and long press to bring up the context menu. Tap “copy.” Alternatively, you may tap on the “share” button on the bottom menu and tap “copy.”
- Go to your destination document or app and paste!
That’s all you need to do. It works similarly if you want to copy from your Mac and paste to your iDevice.
Although this technique is helpful, it might not always be the best method if you want to transfer something from one device to another. Sometimes, using Airdrop or syncing through iCloud might be quicker and easier.
How Do You Copy and Paste on a Mac?
Copying and pasting on a Mac is not a complex endeavor. Remember that you can also take advantage of the universal clipboard if you need to get your content from one device to another quickly. However, it might still be a good idea to get comfortable with Airdrop or iCloud to make things even easier!
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Chriselle has been a passionate writer for over 10 years, but she's a geek at heart. When she isn't busy writing, she spends her time streaming video games and learning new skills.