How to Copy and Paste on a Mac in 3 Different Ways [2024]

Key Takeaways
  • Use Command + C to copy and Command + V to paste. Other methods include using the Menu Bar or the Shortcut Menu (right-click options).
  • Select the image and use Command + C to copy. To paste, position the cursor and press Command + V or use the Shortcut Menu.
  • Enables copying content on one Apple device and pasting it on another, provided both devices are signed in with the same Apple ID and have Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Handoff enabled.

Switching from Windows to macOS can be overwhelming at times, particularly because of the many differences in how things work. If you’ve stumbled across this article, chances are you’re struggling with one of the most basic tasks—copying and pasting content on a Mac.

This guide will walk you through the basic and advanced ways to copy and paste images and text on any device running macOS.

Copy and Paste on Windows vs. Mac

If you’re used to Windows keyboard shortcuts, you might be surprised when trying to copy and paste on a Mac. While the functionality is the same, Macs use the Command (⌘) key instead of Ctrl for these actions.

Command (⌘) key on a Mac keyboard

The Command key isn’t found in the same location as Ctrl on a Windows keyboard. Instead, you’ll find it on both sides of the Spacebar, closer to the center of the keyboard, with a symbol resembling a four-pointed star or a cloverleaf.

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Copy and Paste Text on a Mac

To copy text on your Mac, begin by selecting the desired portion. To do this, hold down the left mouse button and drag the cursor across the text you wish to copy. This will highlight the selected text in blue. If the text is editable, such as in a document or text field, you can also click at the starting point of the text you want to copy and then use the arrow keys to precisely select the required portion.

After selecting the text, you have four different ways that you can use to copy the selected text:

  1. Using Keyboard Shortcuts
  2. Using the Menu Bar
  3. Using the Shortcut Menu

1. Using Keyboard Shortcuts

Once you’ve selected the text, press Command + C on your keyboard. This will copy the entire text selected.

Copying text on Mac

Now that the text is copied, go to an editable document and place your cursor at the position you want to paste the text. Now press Command + V to paste the text.

Pasting text on Mac

2. Using the Menu Bar

You can also use the menu bar at the top to copy the text. After highlighting the portion you want to copy, simply go to “Edit” and then select “Copy“.

Copying Text on Mac via Menu Bar

To paste the text, simply go to an editable document and place your cursor where you want to paste the text. Now, go to “Edit“, and then click “Paste.

Pasting Text on Mac via Menu Bar

3. Using the Shortcut Menu

To copy the highlighted text, simply right-click to open the shortcut menu. Here are some different ways you can open the shortcut menu:

  1. Hold Control (^) and then left-click.
  2. Simultaneously tap the trackpad with two fingers.
  3. Right-click (external mouse).

Once the shortcut menu is open, click on “Copy.”

Copying Text via Shortcut Menu on Mac

To paste the text, simply open the shortcut menu and choose “Paste.”

Pasting Text via Shortcut Menu on Mac

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Pasting Text Without Formatting on Mac

Oftentimes, when you copy text, it also copies its text style, font, and color. While pasting it to a different location, you may not want this. To overcome this issue, instead of using “Paste,” try using “Paste and Match Style.” This will paste the text content to match the style of the surrounding text.

To do this,

  1. Press (Option-Shift-Command-V) on your keyboard to paste the text you copied.
    Paste and Match Style on Mac
  2. On the shortcut menu, choose “Paste and Match Style” while pasting to a specific location.
Pasting Text without Formatting on Mac

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Copy and Paste Image on a Mac

 Like text, the process of copying and pasting image files is more or less the same on Mac, however there are a few technicalities to keep in mind.

1. Copy Image on Mac

To copy an image, you’ll need to first select it. However, the methodology is different from text in that you don’t need to highlight the text. This can be done via the shortcut menu. To open the shortcut menu for the image,

  1. Secondary-click on the image. On a MacBook, simultaneously tap the trackpad with two fingers. If you’re using a mouse, right-click on the image.
  2. Hold Control (^) and click on the image.

Now, select “Copy” from the dropdown menu.

Copying Image on Mac

2. Paste Image on Mac

To paste an image, move your cursor to the desired location, and click on the editable space. Now, press Command + V to paste the image, or bring up the shortcut menu again to paste the image from there.

Pasting Image on Mac

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Copying Content Across Apple Devices

Apple allows you to copy and paste text and images across different devices. For this to work, the devices need to have:

  1. Both devices must be signed in with the same Apple ID.
  2. The devices must be close to each other (within about 30 feet).
  3. Both devices have Bluetooth and Wi-Fi turned on.
  4. The devices have Handoff turned on.
Apple allows you to copy contents across devices

Using Universal Clipboard on your Mac, you can copy content on one device and then paste it onto another. Simply copy any text, image, file, or content as you normally would. This content will automatically be added to the clipboard of your other nearby device. Then, on the second device, paste the content like you normally would.

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Like you saw, the process of copying text, images, and files varies on macOS, using the keyboard, trackpad, and mouse to suit your needs and complement your workflow. It can be challenging to get the hang of it when you switch over from other platforms, but once you do, it’s easy to master.


I’m pressing Control + C, but nothing is being copied on my Mac. What am I doing wrong?

The keyboard shortcut for copying on a Mac is different from Windows. Instead of Control + C, you’ll use Command + C to copy. The Command key is located on either side of the spacebar, with a symbol resembling a four-pointed star or a cloverleaf.

The keys on either side of the spacebar on my external keyboard aren’t working as Command keys. What should I do?

If you’re using a Windows keyboard, try using the Windows key instead of Command. This is the default setting for Windows keyboards on Macs.

Can I copy and paste between my Mac and other devices?

Yes, you can using Universal Clipboard. Refer to the article above to find out how.


Muhammad Qasim

Qasim's deep love for technology and gaming drives him to not only stay up-to-date on the latest developments but also to share his informed perspectives with others through his writing. Whether through this or other endeavors, he is committed to sharing his expertise and making a meaningful contribution to the world of tech and gaming.