Thursday, September 3, 2009

How to use the Clipboard

Coco Johnson

If you are new to computers, and you don't know how to move blocks of text or graphics from one document to another, or from one place in a document to another, you need to read on. The great thing about personal computers is that you never have to retype something that's already been typed.

When you get information (or a joke or story) in an e-mail, and you want to send it to someone else without all those previous addresses attached to it, this is a solution to that problem. If you have a photo or picture in one place on your computer or a Web site, this trick will move it anywhere else (into a document or a new e-mail message).

It's called Cut & Paste or Copy & Paste. The difference between cutting something and copying something is quite simple. Cut means to remove it from where it is. Copy means to leave the original where it is and make a copy of it for transport to another location. Paste is what you do when you place it in a new location.

Four simple steps will move text (or graphics) from one place to another.

  • Highlight the text you want to move
  • Cut or Copy the highlighted text
  • switch to another window/programme (or not)
  • Place the cursor in the new location where you want the text
  • Paste the text in its new location
There are four ways to copy & paste or cut & paste. All four do the same thing, but they were developed by people who are accustomed to using the computer in different ways.

Keyboard Method
(you never have to fight that mouse)

Highlight: with your cursor at the beginning of the text, hold down the Shift key, and tap (or hold down) the right arrow key until you have highlighted the text you want (you can also arrow back, up, and down to highlight in any direction)

To Copy: hold down the Control key and tap the letter C (called Ctrl + C, on a mac: apple+c)

To Cut: hold down the Control key and tap the letter X (called Ctrl + X
, on a mac: apple+x)

Place your cursor where you want the text to appear (this may involve opening another document, or switch windows with ALT+TAB)

To Paste: hold down the Control key and tap the letter V (called Ctrl + V
, on a mac: apple+v)

Quick Recap
Highlight: Shift + arrow
Copy: Ctrl + C; or Cut: Ctrl + X
Place cursor where you want the text to appear
Paste: Ctrl + V

Mouse Method
(you never have to touch that keyboard)

Highlight: place cursor at the beginning of text; click and drag the mouse to highlight the text

Copy or Cut: right-click (a menu drops down) and left-click on your choice

Place cursor where you want the text

Paste: right-click (a menu drops down); left-click on Paste

Menu Bar Method
(the menu bar is the line of words across the top of your screen)

Highlight: use either method above to highlight (to highlight the whole document, click Edit in your menu bar, and click Select All)

Copy or Cut: select Copy or Cut from the Edit menu in the menu bar at the top of the page

Place the cursor where you want the text to go

Paste: select Paste from the Edit menu

Icon Method

Highlight: drag mouse or use Shift + arrows to highlight

To Copy: click on the Copy icon (2 pieces of paper) in your toolbar

To Cut: click Cut icon (scissors) in toolbar

Place your cursor where you want the text to go

To Paste: click on the Paste icon (clipboard) in your toolbar

The Clipboard

When you cut or copy something, it is placed in a holding area called the "clipboard." You can't see the clipboard, but your data is there. It will stay there until you...

1. copy or cut something else
2. turn off your computer

You can paste what's on your clipboard over and over, as long as you don't copy or cut something else on top of it. The clipboard that comes with Windows 95 will hold only one selected item at a time.

You can copy or cut and paste large blocks of text, graphics, all or part of the text of an e-mail, text on a Web page, graphics on Web pages, tables, and just about anything else a computer has on it. There is a limit to how much material the clipboard can hold, but if you exceed it, you can possibly do it in several steps.

There is no reason that a forwarded e-mail has to have hundreds of names and headers included with the message. The only reason I can think of for leaving the names on is to show where the message has been. With Copy & Paste, you can send your friends only the message and not the e-mail addresses of everyone in the Universe. This also will help cut down on Spam (unsolicited commercial e-mail). (Note: you cannot cut text from an e-mail or a Web page; you can only highlight then copy and paste.)

One Last Tip

If you want to move a small amount of text or a picture just a short distance within the document you are working on, simply highlight it and click and drag it with your mouse. This works best when the phrase (block of text) or picture is being moved only within the area you can see on your screen.

About the Author
Coco is the newsletter editor of The F1 Key, a publication of the F1 Computer Users' Club in Shell Knob, MO.
This article is brought to you by the Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal Computer User Groups (APCUG), an International organization to which Melb PC belongs.

Reprinted from the February 2004 issue of PC Update, the magazine of Melbourne PC User Group, Australia
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