How To: Cut, Copy, And Paste On Android

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A quick and easy guide on how to Cut, Copy, and Paste text on a Android.

I’m sure more than a few will chuckle at this guide, I mean cutting, copying, and pasting text for someone who has been using smartphones for years comes as second nature. The truth though, is that there are still many out there who are experiencing their first smartphone, and even some who just haven’t taken the time to fully utilize their smartphone. There’s certainly nothing shameful about looking up how to perform basic functions for your device, if I’m using a system for the first time, I often just plug in a search on how to accomplish what I’m trying to accomplish. I’ve recently been working with someone who just purchased a iPhone 5, and he’s always asking some of the most basic questions about it. At first I thought to myself “How does someone not know these things about their phone?”, but then he informed me that his last phone was a Nokia flip-phone. I then realized that making such a large jump in technology, would be like using MS-DOS (A very old OS for you young ones) and then upgrading to Windows 8. With that said, let’s jump right into the how-to.

The cut, copy, and paste functions work just like they do on your PC or Mac, the only difference is instead of using keyboard shortcuts like Ctrl+C or Command+C, you’ll use touch gestures. These gestures and the look of the icons can vary from device to device, depending on what manufacture made the phone or what version of Android it’s using, but they all should look and work similar enough to follow along with the guide. Each of the commands can be accessed through the same menu bar.

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The first step you’ll want to take is to find a string of text that you want to copy, you’ll then want to press a word in the string and hold the press until the word is highlighted. This is considered a long press for future reference. If you’re only looking to copy a single word, then as long as you performed a long press on that word, the device should highlight the entire word. If you want to grab a string of text, you’ll want to press and slide the sliders on each end of the word highlighted, to adjust them to highlight all of the text you want. Once you have the string of text you want to work with highlighted, you’ll notice that a menu either appeared directly above the text, or in a menu bar at the top of your screen. Generally the functions will appear directly above the text if you’re working in a notepad-like app, writing e-mails or text. The menu bar at the top generally appears in apps like a web browser. The image above shows an example of what the menu bar at the top will look like, currently you can see that I have the Copy function selected.

cutcopyandpasteThese are typically the type of option you’ll see when the menu bar at the top appears.

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  • Select All – Will select all of the text on that participial page or screen.

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  • Cut – Removes text from its current location and moves it to the clipboard

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  • Copy – Copies the text to the clipboard

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  • Clipboard – This is where you can view what you have cut or copied to your clipboard, in some cases it will show a history of what you have placed in the clipboard.

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Now, when you’re working within a text editor like notepad or the messaging app, you’ll get a much easier menu to work with. You can access this menu of functions the same way you would anywhere else, perform a long press on a word where you want to start selecting text, use the sliders at the bottom of the text to pull the slider in the direction you want to continue highlighting. As long as you have a some text highlighted, the menu will stay on screen. Occasionally, depending on the app you may have additional features on this menu that you can scroll through. Some of these additional functions can include a “Define” function, which does a dictionary look-up for the word selected, others may include a share option to post on a social network, or even perform a Google search.

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Each app that you use can provide different functions from the long press on text, but the cut, copy, and paste functions should always be there, as long as there is selectable text of course. A function that I’ve seen on a few different androids, is one called “Replace”. This function is usually presented along side the paste function, the Replace option will give you the choice of replacing the selected word or string of words with whatever was last put in your clipboard. The reason for this, is so you can either use the paste option to add the text in without replacing what you have.
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It all really just comes down to using the long press gesture to bring up your cut, copy, and paste menu, then using the sliders to select the text you wish to work with. If you’re looking to paste text that you’ve already cut or copied, a best practice is to do simple taps on the screen until you get the cursor in the position you want to paste, once the cursor is in the right spot, you’ll want to do a long press in that position to bring up the paste function.

Dragging the sliders to select the desired text can be a bit finicky at times as well, especially if you’re trying to grab text that starts or ends on the edge of your screen. It can take awhile to get used to some of the touch gestures like appropriate lengths of times to hold the press, sliders, swipes, as well as others. So if you’re still new to smartphones make sure to just stick with it, even though some things can feel like a hassle at first, in time you’ll be glad you’ve learned new ways to utilize your device.

Hopefully this helps for anyone new to the Android platform, in fact even if you use a Apple phone or tablet, the steps are virtual the exact same, though it will have a different look from Android is all. If you have any questions regarding this article or on how to perform other functions in Android or iOS, be sure to ask in the comments below.

Here are a few other How-To guides for Android devices:

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