Using this keyboard combination to cut, copy & paste will increase your productivity on the Mac immensely.

Copy/Cut & Paste

Perhaps the most well known of all keyboard shortcuts is Copy & Paste, or Cut & Paste. It’s a very quick and easy way to copy or move text around from one document or field to another. It can also be used with files to duplicate them or move them from one location to another.

How to Copy & Paste

Select some text and hold down the Command key and tap on the C key. This action copies the text and puts it in memory on a virtual clipboard.

Pasting via a keyboard shortcut is one that often confuses new users. Most people intuitively assume that pasting is accomplished using the P combination but this has already been allocated to the Print function. Instead, the paste function uses the V combination.

Fingers on Mac keyboard showing Copy and Paste shortcut

Copy & Paste with Command-C and Command-V

How to Cut & Paste

Select some text and then hold down the Command key and tap on the X key. This action removes the selected text from it’s current position and copies it to the clipboard. This is a temporary location and will be forever lost if the copied text is not then pasted somewhere.

Paste the copied text to the new location with the V combination as described above.

Fingers on keyboard showing cut and paste

Cut & Paste with Command-X and Command-V

Moving Files with Copy & Paste…and Option

As stated in at the beginning of this post, files can also be moved around with these keyboard combinations. Prior to the release of the Lion operating system (OSX 10.7), however, files could only be copied from one location to another using the keyboard, which left a duplicate in the original location. The only way to move a file was to drag and drop it. With Lion, and the later operating systems, came the ability to truly cut & paste files to easily move them from one location to another. There is just one small difference to cutting and copying text and that is the need for a ‘modifier’ key to be used when pasting the file in it’s new location.

To cut and paste files from one location to another you need to add the Option key .

Copy the file: C
Paste the file: V

Note that when you copy the file it is not removed from it’s current location until it has been pasted in its new position, ensuring that the file is not lost.

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