In human–computer interaction, cut, copy and paste are related commands that offer a user-interface interprocess communication technique for transferring data. The cut command removes the selected data from its original position, while the copy command creates a duplicate; in both cases the selected data is kept in a temporary storage tool called the clipboard. The data in the clipboard is later inserted in the position where the paste command is issued. The data is available to any application supporting the feature, thus allowing easy data transfer between applications. The command names are an interface metaphor based on the physical procedure used in manuscript editing to create a page layout. This interaction technique has close associations with related techniques in graphical user interfaces that use pointing devices such as a computer mouse (by drag and drop, for example). The capability to replicate information with ease, changing it between contexts and applications, involves privacy concerns because of the risks of disclosure when handling sensitive information. Terms like cloning, copy forward, carry forward, or re-use refer to the dissemination of such information through documents, and may be subject to regulation by administrative bodies.
1.1 Origins 1.2 Early methods 1.3 Popularization
2 Cut and paste 3 Copy and paste 4 Find and go 5 Common keyboard shortcuts 6 Copy and paste automation 7 Additional differences between moving and copying 8 Multiple clipboards 9 Use in healthcare 10 Use in software development 11 See also 12 References 13 External links
The term "cut and paste" comes from the traditional practice in
manuscript-editings whereby people would cut paragraphs from a page
with scissors and paste them onto another page. This practice remained
standard into the 1980s. Stationery stores formerly sold "editing
scissors" with blades long enough to cut an 8½"-wide page. The advent
of photocopiers made the practice easier and more flexible.
The act of copying/transferring text from one part of a computer-based
document ("buffer") to a different location within the same or
different computer-based document was a part of the earliest on-line
computer editors. As soon as computer data entry moved from
punch-cards to online files (in the mid/late 1960s) there were
"commands" for accomplishing this operation. This mechanism was often
used to transfer frequently-used commands or text snippets from
additional buffers into the document, as was the case with the QED
The earliest editors, since they were designed for teleprinter
terminals, provided keyboard commands to delineate contiguous regions
of text, remove such regions, or move them to some other location in
the file. Since moving a region of text required first removing it
from its initial location and then inserting it into its new location
various schemes had to be invented to allow for this multi-step
process to be specified by the user.
Often this was done by the provision of a 'move' command, but some
text editors required that the text be first put into some temporary
location for later retrieval/placement. In 1983, the
Z to undo X to cut C to copy V to paste
IBM Common User Access (CUA) standard also uses combinations of
the Insert, Del, Shift and Control keys. Early versions of
Windows[dubious – discuss] used the IBM standard.
The user selects or "highlights" the text or file for moving by some
method, typically by dragging over the text or file name with the
pointing-device or holding down the
Whereas cut-and-paste often takes place with a mouse-equivalent in
Windows-like GUI environments, it may also occur entirely from the
keyboard, especially in UNIX text editors, such as Pico or vi. Cutting
and pasting without a mouse can involve a selection (for which Ctrl+x
is pressed in most graphical systems) or the entire current line, but
it may also involve text after the cursor until the end of the line
and other more sophisticated operations.
When a software environment provides cut and paste functionality, a
nondestructive operation called copy usually accompanies them; copy
places a copy of the selected text in the clipboard without removing
it from its original location.
The clipboard usually stays invisible, because the operations of
cutting and pasting, while actually independent, usually take place in
quick succession, and the user (usually) needs no assistance in
understanding the operation or maintaining mental context. Some
application programs provide a means of viewing, or sometimes even
editing, the data on the clipboard.
Copy and paste
The term "copy-and-paste" refers to the popular, simple method of
reproducing text or other data from a source to a destination. It
differs from cut and paste in that the original source text or data
does not get deleted or removed. The popularity of this method stems
from its simplicity and the ease with which users can move data
between various applications visually – without resorting to
Once one has copied data into the clipboard, one may paste the
contents of the clipboard into a destination document.
X Window System
select the text that you want to replace (i.e. by double clicking) put the text in the Find buffer with ⌘+E overwrite the selected text with your replacement text select the replacement text (try ⎇+⇧+← to avoid lifting your hands from the keyboard) copy the replacement text ⌘+C find the next or previous occurrence ⌘+G / ⌘+D paste the replacement text ⌘+V repeat the last two steps as often as needed
or in short:
select ⌘+ E, replstr, ⎇+⇧+←, ⌘+C, ⌘+G, ⌘+V, ⌘+G, ⌘+V ...
While this might sound a bit complicated at first, it is often much faster than using the find panel, especial when only a few occurrences shall be replaced or when only some of the occurrences shall be replaced. When a text shall not be replaced, simply hit ⌘+G again to skip to the next occurrence. The find buffer is system wide. That is, if you enter a text in the find panel (or with ⌘+E) in one application and then switch to another application you can immediately start searching without having to enter the search text again. Common keyboard shortcuts
Cut Copy Paste
Apple ⌘ Command+X ⌘ Command+C ⌘ Command+V
Windows/GNOME/KDE Control+X / ⇧ Shift+Delete Control+C / Control+Insert Control+V / ⇧ Shift+Insert
GNOME/KDE terminal emulators
⇧ Shift+Control+C / Control+Insert ⇧ Shift+Control+V / ⇧ Shift+Control+Insert (⇧ Shift+Insert for pasting selected text)
BeOS Alt+X Alt+C Alt+V
Common User Access ⇧ Shift+Delete Control+Insert ⇧ Shift+Insert
Emacs Control+W (to mark) Control+K (to end of line) meta+W (to mark) Control+Y
vi d (delete) y (yank) p (put)
X Window System
click-and-drag to highlight middle mouse button
Copy and paste automation
Copying data one by one from one application to another, such as from
Excel to a web form, might involve a lot of manual work. Copy and
paste can be automated with the help of a program that would iterate
through the values list and paste them to the active application
window. Such programs might come in the form of macros or dedicated
programs which involve more or less scripting. Alternatively,
applications supporting simultaneous editing may be used to copy or
move collections of items.
Additional differences between moving and copying
In a spreadsheet, moving (cut and paste) need not equate to copying
(copy and paste) and then deleting the original: when moving,
references to the moved cells may move accordingly.
Clipboard Control key Cut and paste job Drag and drop Photomontage Publishing Interchange Language Simultaneous editing X Window selection
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