Sunday, August 07, 2011

Understanding Copy and Paste

First let’s define some key concepts:

Right-click means to point at something on the screen with the mouse pointer and then clicking the right button on the mouse. Click means to click the left button on the mouse.

Drag means to point at something with the mouse pointer and then, while holding down the left button on the mouse, moving the mouse. This is generally used move what is being pointed to or to select what is dragged over. Right-drag means to use the right button instead of the left.

Select means to drag across a series of words or objects on the screen. This action causes what is dragged over to change color indicating it has been selected.

Copy and Paste

Copy and Paste is such a simple but misunderstood concept. Your computer has a hidden from view area called the clipboard. To copy something, select it—words in a document, an image, the URL of a Web site, or even text on a Web page. Then right-click on the selected piece and select Copy. You can also use the keyboard command that has been around since the beginning; Ctrl+C. To use it, hold down the Ctrl key, tap C, and then release both keys. Do not attempt to press both keys at the same time.

What you had selected is now in the clipboard. You cannot see it, but just take it on faith. It is there and will stay there until you either copy something else which replaces the content of the clipboard or you turn off your computer which clears memory.

Open the app you wish to copy the material to, like Word. Click to place the insertion point (that vertical line indicating where your next keystroke will appear) where you want the pasted material to be located, and then right-click and select Paste. You can also Ctrl+V to paste from the clipboard.

This same method can be used to copy a file to another location on your computer.

The Shift+Click Method

This method works whenever you want to select multiple items. It could be file names in a list of files, a series of sentences or paragraphs in a document, or even a part of a Web page to use in a document.

Locate the first word in the section to be copied and mouse over it to select it. Without touching any button on the mouse, bring the pointer down to the end of the section to be copied.

The key is to hold down the shift key, point to the ending position, and then click the mouse and all between the first selected entry and the place you last clicked have been selected.

Now that you have selected all of it, you can right-click and select Copy or simply Ctrl+C to copy it to the clipboard for pasting in another application.

Copying from a Web Page

When copying from a Web page even the behind the scenes coding is copied. You cannot see this information, but when you paste the selection into another app, like a Word Processor, the results are not just the text. Included are all the formatting, links, images, and often other things we may not understand.

To avoid this “mess”, I suggest pasting first into a pure text app like NOTEPAD. This app accepts only the raw text dropping any other coding and images. Then select all the new data. Another shortcut is Ctrl+A which selects all data in the window having focus. Then right-click and copy to place that text data into the clipboard for pasting elsewhere.