If you need to move text, an image, or another object from one part of a document to another, or from one application to another, you’ll need to use copy (or cut) and paste. On a Mac or MacBook, keyboard shortcuts are different than on iOS devices. If you’re coming from Windows, you might be confused.

For this reason, we wanted to explain step by step the different steps you need to follow to cut, copy and paste on a Mac. Our tips will help you cut and paste text and content on a MacBook.

If it turns out that you need to move a block of text, image or other object from one part of a document to another, or from one application to another, you must use the commands on your keyboard that we know as copy, cut or paste in macOS.

The main difference between Windows and Mac is the key you have to press; on a Mac, this is the Command key. It has a ⌘ type symbol and it is located next to the space bar. You may also need the Option key, which on some Macs is marked as the Alt key.

  • Copy: Command + C
  • Cut: Command + X
  • Paste: Command + V

How to Copy to a Mac or MacBook

Do you want to know how you can copy something on a Mac? Here we show you how to do it. on Macs, the keyboard shortcuts for these actions are different than on other devices such as Windows-based PCs. With your Mac, you can proceed as follows:

  1. Highlight the text or object you want to move.
  2. Copy by pressing ‘Cmd + C’ or Cut the text with ‘Cmd + X’. Both save the selected text or object, with the difference that the ‘Copy’ option leaves it in its original place while ‘Cut’ deletes it.
  3. Place your mouse cursor where you want to place the text or object and paste by pressing ‘Cmd + V’.
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Note that the target may be in a different document or even in an alternative application or program. It may also be the case that you want to copy it to a different device. We will see this later.

Paste on Mac

How to paste without formatting

There’s nothing more frustrating than copying and pasting from one document to another, or from one application to another, only to find that the font’s formatting is also being copied. This is downright annoying if you have a different format in the destination than the original document.

To avoid this, you can use a command that makes sure the pasted text follows the formatting of the paragraph or document it’s joining, rather than the one you just left.

For these cases, follow these steps:

  1. Select the text or object you want to copy or cut by pressing ‘Cmd + C’ to copy or ‘Cmd + X’ to cut.
  2. Place the cursor where you want to place the text/object and paste by pressing ‘Cmd + Option/Alt + Shift + V’.

Raw Copy

It’s a lot of key combination, but if you can do it, you’ll get the text to be small respecting the format of your destination document or application.

This keyboard shortcut works on Apple pages, but can vary between apps, so if ‘Cmd + Option/Alt + Shift + V’ doesn’t work, try ‘Cmd + Shift + V’.

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If you are using Microsoft Word, you should click ‘Paste’ on the menu and choose ‘Keep Text Only’. You can set this as the default paste if you wish.

How to cut and paste with your mouse

Most people use the command shortcuts listed above, but there are other alternatives.

Using the mouse, it is possible to simplify the process:

  • Select the text you want to copy (either by double-clicking on a word or by clicking and dragging to select more)
  • Right click on the selection
  • Select ‘Cut or Copy’
  • Right click where you want to paste the text and choose ‘Paste’

Copy and paste through menus

You can also use the program menus to carry out the operation, depending on the type of application:

  • Select the text you want to copy
  • In the menu choose ‘Edit’
  • Select ‘Cut or Copy’
  • Right click where you want to paste the text and choose ‘Paste’ from the menu.

In Pages there is an option to paste and match styling which could be useful if you want to lose formatting. Other apps are likely to have a similar option.


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Copy and paste between iPhone, iPad and Mac

A more advanced tip is related to the release of macOS Sierra’s Universal Clipboard, so you can copy some content to your Mac and then paste it to your iPhone device, or vice versa.

Assuming the feature is enabled, simply highlight the object on your iPhone or iPad running iOS. For example, tap on ‘Copy’. Now open a document on your Mac and press ‘Cmd + V’.

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You may see an estimated 3-5 second delay for text, and a little longer for image content, but the item being copied from one device to another will soon appear.

How do I know Universal Clipboard is available on my Mac, iPhone, or iPad? In addition to requiring a version of iOS 10 and macOS Sierra or later, both devices must be signed in to the same iCloud account and have Bluetooth and Wi-Fi turned on. Both will have to meet the ‘Continum’ requirements.

This includes the following compatible models:

  • iPhone 5 or newer
  • iPad Pro (any model)
  • iPad 4th generation or newer
  • iPad Air (any model)
  • iPad mini 2 or later
  • iPod touch 6th generation.

For Mac computers, the supported models are:

  • MacBook 2015 or newer
  • MacBook Pro 2012 or later
  • MacBook Air 2012 or later
  • Mac mini from 2012 or newer
  • iMac 2012 or later
  • Mac Pro from 2013 or later

As we have anticipated, both synced devices must be signed in to the same iCloud account with connectivity turned on.

If you have everything listed above, here’s what you need to do to get Universal Clipboard working on your Mac:

  • On the Mac, open ‘System Preferences > General’
  • Make sure there’s a check mark next to “Allow switching between this Mac and your iCloud devices”
  • On the iOS device, open ‘Settings > General > Transfer’
  • Make sure ‘Transfer’ has a green slider.

If you want to continue learning tricks of your Mac operating system, you can consult our guide on how to use dark mode on Mac.

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