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Cut and Paste

Thursday, October 21st, 2010 by | Filed Under: Computer Terms, Shortcuts & Keyboard Tricks, Uncategorized

Claire from Ottawa, Canada writes:

I am almost ashamed to admit it, but I don’t know how to cut and paste or even what it means. I do know how to copy and paste, though, if that helps.

A long time ago, I got to talking to a representative from my local phone company about computers and copy and paste came up. I had no idea what it was, and she was speechless, dumbfounded, flabbergasted… well, she was surprised, anyway. “What do you mean? That’s the very first thing I did when I began to learn about computers!” Well, I apologize, ma’am, maybe it is. I thought the very first thing you did was take it out of the box…I digress. The point, is, Claire, there are many (sometimes it feels like too many!) things to learn about a computer; don’t ever be ashamed because you don’t know something, because I guarantee that there is something you know that a neighbor doesn’t, and vice-versa. You know what I mean?

Let’s start with concept. In fact, let’s integrate Copy and Paste and Cut and Paste and call all of it Cut, Copy, and Paste. That will help me not to have to type paste nine thousand times in a paragraph, and besides, they are basically the same thing, with only one difference between them.

It’s all about moving data, or pictures, or anything you want from one place to another.

Let’s say that you are typing a letter to your Aunt Abigail in Nottingham, England. (Aunt Abigail is 73 and set in her ways and will not have one of those “new-fangled computers” in her house, thus you write her by snail-mail.) A friend of yours has sent you an e-mail with a picture of his puppies in it (there are ten of them!) that you think that she would love, and you want her to have a copy of it. Thus, you copy the picture from the e-mail and paste the picture into your letter. Since you only copied it, you still have the picture in your e-mail, and Aunt Abigail is going to have a copy of it, too.

Now let’s say you are typing a letter to your Aunt Abigail (in Nottingham, England, blah blah blah) and you want to send her that same picture, only this time you don’t need to keep the picture and would just as soon cut it out of the e-mail; the e-mail (text) itself was the most important thing. You do the same thing as before; you go to the picture and copy it, and then paste it into your letter. This time, however, you cut the original picture out of your e-mail. Now you don’t have the picture any more, but Aunt Abigail is still going to get it because you copied the picture and pasted it before you cut it out of your e-mail.

Does this make sense? Let me make a point here: In the example above, when you copied and pasted the picture, you simply made a copy of it. You can always go get the picture again because you didn’t cut it out.

Claire, I’ll tell you something that I was ashamed to admit for a long time: I didn’t know that you copied something when you were cutting and pasting. I mean, why wouldn’t you put the word copy in there somewhere? This is why it is also called Cut, Copy, and Paste.

To Cut and Paste

Let’s take the picture that Aunt Abigail is going to be enjoying 2 months from now when she finally gets your letter.


Click anywhere in the picture and then go up to the top of your screen where it says File, Edit, View, etc. and click on Edit, and then click on Copy.


Now go to the place where you want to put the picture, put your cursor where you want it to go, and click on Paste.


Your picture will appear where you put your cursor.

You will follow this same process to Cut and Paste. This time, instead of clicking on Copy in the Edit menu, click on Cut.


Your first picture has disappeared because you have cut it, but it can now be pasted wherever you’d like it to be placed.

Let’s sum it up:

Copy and Paste: Take something from somewhere, make a copy of it and put it somewhere else.

Cut and Paste: Take something from somewhere, and a copy will be created that can be pasted somewhere else. But, what you take will also be removed from its original source.

That’s it!

I hope this answered your question. If you would like to learn more about copy and paste, on Worldstart’s website there is a page that clearly explains copy and paste . Click here for some keyboard shortcuts that you can use to copy and paste, too.

Thanks for writing, Claire!

~ Lori Cline

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