Mac Tutorials

How to Copy and Paste on a MacBook

How to copy and paste on Mac? This is a common question if you’ve migrated from Windows, just got yourself a Mac, or when copy and paste are acting up on your iMac, MacBook Air, or MacBook Pro.


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This article explains how to copy and paste on any desktop Mac or a MacBook using your keyboard, mouse, trackpad, and menus. So, choose the section you need:

Plus, we’ll give you some tips on how to:

How do you copy and paste using a keyboard on a Mac

One of the easiest ways to copy and paste on a Mac is to use keyboard shortcuts. It’s the Apple equivalent to the Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V shortcuts that Windows PC users rely on.  


Here’s how you do it:

1. Select the file or link you want to copy on your Mac

- To choose a part of the text—hold left-click while dragging your cursor over the text to highlight the area you need

- To choose a file, simply left-click on it once

2. Once you’ve highlighted what you want to copy, press the Command (⌘) + C keys at once on your keyboard

3. Next, navigate to the file/folder where you want the copied information to be pasted, and press the Command (⌘) + V keys at the same time


Bonus tip: If you need to select and copy the entire text or all files in a Mac folder, press the Command (⌘) + A together. There's no need to drag your cursor around forever to select!


These simple commands should be working universally, whether you use a MacBook or an iMac. If the trick doesn’t work out, there might be problems with the keys you’re pressing. Learn how to fix a Mac keyboard in our guide.


But if you feel you can’t face this problem on your own and it seems hard to fix on your own, then contact our MK Premium Services experts—they’re available 24/7 to help you deal with any tech issues.

How to copy and paste with a mouse  

Another way to copy and paste on a Mac would require a mouse. It might feel more comfortable as you’ll be able to do the whole thing with only one hand.


Here's how to copy and paste a picture, text, or other files on a Mac:

1. Select something you want to copy on Mac by left-clicking it once or holding the left-click while moving the cursor over the file/text you want to select

2. Right-click (or hold the Control key and then click the mouse button) on the selected item or items to open a drop-down menu

3. Hit the Copy option on the contextual menu

copy file option in the drop-down menu in finder

4. Go where you want to paste the copied file and right-click (or hold Control, then click the mouse button) on any area to open the contextual menu again

5. Find and click Paste Item

paste file option in the drop-down menu in finde

6. Check if the file was copied to the new location


If you’re using Apple’s Magic Mouse but it doesn’t do what’s described above, check out this article on fixing Magic Mouse issues.

How to copy and paste using a trackpad

If you have a  MacBook Air or MacBook Pro and don't have a Magic Mouse or a regular one, you still can copy and paste with a trackpad (also called a touchpad). All that’s needed is how to right-click on a Mac without a mouse.  


Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Select the item you would like to copy
  2. Tap or click on the touchpad with two fingers to do a right-click action of the mouse
  3. From the drop-down menu, click the Copy option
  4. Open the folder or other direction where you want to paste
  5. Tap or click on the touchpad with two fingers once again
  6. Click the Paste Item option in the contextual menu


Bonus tip: There's another way to right-click on a Mac without a mouse. Highlight the text or item you’d like to copy—press and hold the Control key. Holding the Control key, click on the highlighted item or text. The contextual menu will pop up like it does with the real right-click on a mouse.

How to copy and paste on a Mac with menus

If for some reason, you can’t copy-paste on a Mac using keyboard or mouse shortcuts, there's another way to copy and paste.  


macOS allows you to copy-paste using the Edit functions in the menu bar of Finder or other relevant apps (you will find the Edit function in menu bars of all apps that support copying and pasting).


Here's how to do this:

1. Highlight the text or file you want to copy on your Mac  

2. To select a paragraph of the text, click and drag your cursor to mark what you’d like to copy. To choose a file—left-click on it once

3. Go to the menu bar at the top and click Edit. In the drop-down menu click the Copy option

copy file option in the edit menu in finder

4. Navigate to the tab, folder, or file where you want to paste the copied item

5. Go to the menu bar at the top of your screen and click Paste

paste file option in the edit menu in finder

Now you know the three ways to copy and paste. But if none of them seems to work, we’ll not stop at it. Here’s a guide that will help you fix copy and paste issues on a Mac.

How to paste and match a style

Copying and pasting text between apps or files, the pasted text visually looks odds. Formatting and styles that vary are here to blame, but there's a how-to for this.  


The trick is to click Paste and Match Style or use Command (⌘) + Shift + V keys instead of using the Edit menu’s e regular paste option.


As a result, the copied text will imitate the style of the app, website, or file you're pasting the information.

How to copy and paste between devices

Yes, you can do it easily! Since the introduction of Universal Clipboard with macOS Sierra, it became possible to copy files on your Mac and paste it on your iPhone or vice versa.


Here are the requirements:

  • Both devices must pass the system requirements for continuity
  • Sign in to the same iCloud on both devices
  • Both devices must have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth switched on
  • On your Mac, open the System Preferences → General tab → tick the box next to “Allow Handoff between this Mac and your iCloud devices
allow handoff checkbox in general settings in system preferences on mac
  • On the iPhone or iPad go to Settings → GeneralHandoff and make sure to activate Handoff (green slide)


Once you make sure all the settings are ok, now it’s time to copy and paste between devices. To do so:

  1. Highlight a file, link, or text you want to copy on your iPhone
  2. Choose to copy this file
  3. Open a document on your Mac and press Command (⌘) + V
  4. Wait a few seconds (3 seconds for text and 10 + seconds for images)


That’s it, and now your item should appear on your Mac. You can copy and paste from a Mac to an iPhone or an iPad in a similar way.

How to cut and paste on a Mac

Copy and Cut functions are similar, as they save the text, file, link, etc. to the pasteboard.  


However, the difference between Copy and Cut is:

  • Copy duplicates the item, leaving one copy in the original location and creating a second copy at the destination
  • Cut moves the original item from one place to another


Here’s how to cut and paste on a Mac:

  1. Highlight the file you want to cut
  2. Cut the file by pressing Command (⌘) + X keys
  3. Navigate to the folder you want to paste the file and press Command (⌘) + V


That’s it. And now you successfully moved the original file to its new location.

If your hotkeys work with a delay, you probably need to optimize your device and release it from unnecessary stuff.


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