How to Copy and Paste With a Keyboard Shortcut

Estimated read time 3 min read

Closeup of a person's hands using a laptop keyboard.

To copy and paste text, files, folders, and other items on your computer, you don’t necessarily need a mouse or trackpad. You can use just the keyboard to copy and paste files around on your Windows or Mac machine. We’ll show you how to do that.

When you use your keyboard for copying and pasting, your files are copied and pasted the same way as if you’re using a mouse or trackpad. This is because Windows, macOS, Linux, and ChromeOS come equipped with the ability to manage files with just the keyboard.

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Copy and Paste Items Without a Mouse or Trackpad

To begin, open the app or the folder in which the text or files you want to copy are located. We’ll copy a few files in the following steps.

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Select the content you want to copy. You can do this using the Arrow keys on your keyboard. To select a string of text, hold down the Shift key and then use the Arrow keys to highlight your text.

If you’d like to select all text or all items in a folder, use Ctrl+A (Windows, Linux, or ChromeOS) or Command+A (Mac).

Copy files with the keyboard.

Now that you’ve selected the content to copy, perform the actual copy process by pressing Ctrl+C (Windows) or Command+C (Mac). Your system won’t show a notification, but your items are indeed copied.

Tip: If you’d like to copy content and remove it from its original location, then cut your content by pressing Ctrl+X (Windows) or Command+X (Mac).

Now access the location where you want to paste your content. If you want to paste text, make sure to access a text field. (You may need to use the Tab key to move between fields if you can’t use a mouse). Similarly, to paste your files or folders, access a folder.

Once you’re at the target location, paste your copied items by pressing Ctrl+V (Windows) or Command+V (Mac). Your system will bring your copied items to your current location.

Paste files with the keyboard.

And that’s it.

While copying and pasting with a keyboard isn’t as convenient as it is with a mouse, it’s potentially faster and more efficient. In fact, there are many more useful keyboard shortcuts that can improve your speed and agility with a computer.

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