Managing files, folders and content is the major task anyone does while working on a computer. No matter you are using macOS or Windows based laptop, you need to frequently cut, copy and paste files and text content. Windows users can use the right click context menu to cut and copy items easily. However, you can only find copy option in macOS context menu while there is no cut option. If you are struggling to manage you files, here are different ways to cut, copy and paste in macOS.
Files/Folders and Text/Images from Files
You can duplicate the files and text by copying and pasting them while move them from one location to another by using cut and paste. The options in Mac will vary, depending upon what you want to do.
- Files and folder – this includes moving or duplicating images, text documents and a complete folder containing multiple files.
- Text/Image Content from a file – here you want to cut or copy text and image from one document file to another. You may also want to paste the copied content on another application.
Cut, Copy and Paste in macOS
Follow one of the below options to cut, copy and paste files, folders and text/image content from files in macOS.
1. Copy Paste with Right Click Context Menu
The easiest option in Mac to copy and paste is to use the right click context menu. When you are in Finder app, right click on a file or folder and select “Copy” option.
Navigate to the location where you want paste and right click on that location. Select “Paste Item” option to duplicate the copied file. You can copy multiple files at once and paste the copied files in multiple locations. Remember, Mac will keep only the last copied item in the clipboard. This means when you copy another file(s) or text, previously copied content will be lost from the clipboard.
Similar to copy paste files, you can also use the right click context menu inside any applications like Word or Pages. For example, you can copy the text from a Word document and paste it in your Pages document.
2. Using Finder or App Menu from Top Bar
Though right click context menu is easy to use, macOS does not offer cut function in Finder context menu. However, all Mac apps including Finder have menu items on the top bar. It contains cut/copy/paste options which you can make use for managing files and text content from files.
- For copying – go to “Edit > Copy” menu from the app for copying content within a file. Same way, you can use “Edit > Copy” menu in Finder for copying files and folders. When you select a single file, Finder will show the file name in the menu item as “Edit > Copy selected_file_name”. However, if you select multiple files, Finder will show the menu as “Edit > Copy xx Items”.
- Go to “Edit > Cut” menu to cut the selected files or content in the document.
- Simply go to “Edit > Paste” menu to paste the copied content.
3. Paste Special and Paste and Match Formatting
Unlike pasting files and folders, you may face a formatting problem while pasting text content. This is because when you copy or cut text content, Mac will also copy the styles associated with the text like font size, family, etc. However, these styles may not match on both source and destination documents causing problems. You can use one of the following two options to handle text formatting issue while pasting.
This option is available in applications like Microsoft Word for Mac (and not on Pages app). After copying or cutting the text, go to “Edit > Paste Special” menu in your destination document. It will show you a pop-up window like below with the list of available options. You can paste the copied content as formatted text, unformatted text, HTML format, PDF, etc. It is also possible to paste the copied content as a link and show it is as icon instead of pasting the content.
When you copy or cut text from one Word document and paste it on another, Word will also show you AutoFormat options beside the pasted next. If you notice the pasted text is not matching the document’s style, select “Match Destination Formatting” option to convert the styles.
Paste and Match Style
Paste Special is useful when you cut/copy and paste text content from one Word document to another. However, Pages and other native macOS apps do not have “Paste Special” option. Instead, you have a simplified “Paste and Match Style” option to automatically convert the pasted text to match the destination formatting. You can use this option from “Edit” menu in most of the text based applications in macOS including Microsoft Word.
4. Using Keyboard Shortcuts for Cut, Copy and Paste
It is easy to cut, copy and paste text from files using the above methods. However, you will be stuck when you want to cut and move a file or folder in Finder. Since Finder does not have a cut option in right click menu and cut option in “Edit” menu is always unselectable, you can use keyboard shortcuts as an alternate option.
- Select single or multiple files or a folder in Finder.
- Press “Command + C” for copying the selected items. If you want to cut the selected items, then press “Command +X” keys.
- Go to the folder where you want to paste the copied files and press “Command + V”.
- This will duplicate the copied files if you have copied the items or move the files if you have used cut shortcut keys.
You can also use these keyboard shortcuts within any applications to cut/copy and paste the text and image content. Below is the summary of keyboard shortcuts you can use for cut, copy and paste purposes in macOS.
|Command + A||Select All||Select all files in a folder or all content from a file||Files, Folders and content|
|Command + C||Copy||Copy selected files/folders or content to clipboard||Files, Folders and content|
|Command + X||Cut||Cut selected files/folders or content to clipboard||Files, Folders and content|
|Command + V||Paste||Paste copied files/folder in destination folder and paste the text content with source formatting||Files, Folders and content|
|Control + Command + V||Paste Special||Paste text with list of options to change the style.||Word for Mac for pasting copied content|
|Option + Shift + Command + V||Paste and Match Formatting/Style||Automatically change the style to destination formatting when pasting.||Available in all apps for pasting copied content|
5. Drag and Drop Files and Content
Mac also supports dragging and moving the files and folders from one location to another. In fact, this is the most easy option for moving multiple files at once, especially when source and destination locations are in the same folder. Good thing is that you can also select a block of text to drag and move within a document or from one app to other. For example, you can select a text block from Pages and drag to a Word document.
Remember, dragging files will move them to the destination location. However, dragging text/image from a document will work differently. When you drag content within a document, Mac will move the content. But when dragging content from one app to other, Mac will duplicate the content like copy paste. In the above screenshot, the text block moved from Pages to Word will appear in both documents.
Mac Clipboard Options
Windows clipboard is very useful to keep a history of copied/cut items and select them when needed. Unfortunately, Mac offers a clipboard function which simply keeps the last item in the history. It could be a text content or name of the file you have copied or moved. You can access the clipboard details by going to “Edit > Show Clipboard” menu in Finder app.
Mac also supports Universal Clipboard function to copy and paste across all connected devices using its continuity features. Using this you can copy the content from your iPhone and paste anywhere in your Mac. However, you should connect all the devices in same network, logged in with same Apple ID and turn Bluetooth on.