How Can I Cut, Copy and Paste on Mac

Can’t seem to cut, copy and paste on Mac? Don’t worry, this beginner’s guide on how to copy and paste on Mac with multiple ways will clear your doubt in no time

Oct 08,2019 • Filed to: Solve Mac Problems • Proven solutions

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Q: How do you copy and paste on a Mac computer?

“I have got a new MacBook, but I can’t seem to copy and paste on Mac the way I used to do it in Windows. Can someone tell me how to copy and paste an image on Mac?”

This is something a lot of first-time Mac users ask these days. If you have recently moved from Windows to Mac, then you might encounter issues to copy and paste files on a MacBook. Don’t worry – we are here to assist you with this detailed guide on how to cut, copy, and paste on Mac. From the usual techniques to keyboard shortcuts, the guide has listed several stepwise techniques that you can follow to copy and paste on macOS. Let’s explore these solutions in detail.

Part 1: How to Cut, Copy, and Paste Files on Mac?

From keyboard shortcuts to file options, there are all kinds of ways to copy and paste files on Mac. Ideally, the process would be similar to copy paste different file types (like photos, documents, audios, etc.) on a Mac.

Solution 1: Use the Menu Bar

Let’s start with the easiest way to learn how do you copy and paste on a Mac. While browsing, you can see a menu bar on the top of the Mac’s interface. Here is a simple solution to access its features to copy/paste any content on Mac.

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Solution 2: Use Mouse Options

Most of the Mac users take the assistance of a mouse while working. In this case, you won’t face any trouble to copy paste on MacBook. Here are the correct mouse features to learn how to copy and paste on MacBook Air and other systems.

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Solution 3: Use the Trackpad  

If your MacBook has a trackpad, then you won’t essentially need a mouse to access its features. Now, there are two common ways you can use a trackpad to cut, copy, or paste on Mac.

As you know, you can use your trackpad similar to a mouse. That is, right-click the file and choose to cut or copy it. Go to the target location and right-click again, but this time, choose to paste the file instead.

This is a far easier way to copy and paste files on Mac using a trackpad. All you need to do is just select the file you wish to move first. Make sure that you keep pressing the trackpad as you drag the file to the target location. While still pressing the trackpad, use another finger to drop it at the destination.

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Solution 4: Use the Command Key

There are a lot of users who wish to know how do you copy and paste using the keyboard on a Mac. Just like Windows, there are certain key combinations that you can use to cut, copy, or paste files on a Mac. Firstly, you can select the file and enter the cut/copy combinations. Later, go to the target location and press the keys to paste the file.

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Solution 5: Use the Option Key

If you are looking for more features while moving your data on Mac, then use the Option key. After when you have copied something via the keyboard shortcuts or the mouse, simply go to the target location. Now, click on the Edit feature on the Menu bar and press the Option key. Instead of paste, you can choose to move items here, which would act as a cut-paste feature on Mac.

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Part 2: How to Fix Copy Paste Not Working on Mac?

As you can see, it is pretty easy to learn how to copy and paste on Mac. Sadly, there are times when users face some setbacks with this feature. It has been noticed that these issues are related to a system’s clipboard. Ideally, a clipboard is where data is stored on a temporary basis after when we copy a file till we paste it to the target location. Therefore, if you want to fix the copy paste feature on Mac, then consider following these simple suggestions:

Fix 1: Relaunch the Clipboard

The easiest way to reset clipboard is by restarting the system. Though, while doing so, we need to enable the feature to reopen windows and apps after logging in.


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Fix 2: Force Quit the Clipboard

If the copy-paste feature on your Mac won’t work even after restarting it, then you can consider force quitting it instead. This will reset the clipboard on your system and would fix it, most likely.


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Fix 3: Fix Stuck Clipboard using Terminal

If you are familiar with the Terminal app on Mac, then you can also take its assistance to force quit the clipboard. To do this, you can use the “killall” command on Terminal. Firstly, launch Terminal by visiting Applications > Utilities (as an administrator). After that, type the “killall pboard” command and press the return key. Once clipboard has been forcefully closed, you can try to copy and paste something again.

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Part 3: How to Recover Clipboard History on Mac?

Consider clipboard as a temporary space on Mac which stores what has been recently copied on the system. In this way, you can move your files or data from one source to another without losing it in the process. Though, there are times when users wish to access the clipboard history to recover the data they have previously copied on it.
To access what is recently available on clipboard, just go to Mac’s main menu > Edit > Show Clipboard. This will display what was copied the last time on your system (the presently available content).

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As of now, Mac doesn’t let us access historical records of clipboard. Though, there are tons of third-party apps that you can use to retrieve the historic data from clipboard.

That’s a wrap, everyone! I’m sure that after reading this guide on how to copy and paste on Mac, you would be able to fulfill your requirements. As you can see, it is quite easy to cut, copy, and paste on Mac using the main menu, mouse, trackpad, and even the keyboard. For your convenience, we have also listed some quick solutions to fix issues with Mac’s clipboard. This will make sure that you have a positive experience while using your Mac and moving your data across different sources. By the way, you may lose data during cut and paste accidentally and if it indeed happens, check the post: How to Recover Files Lost in Cut and Paste


Sue Wen

staff Editor

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