How to Copy and Paste Text on the iPad

Easily re-use the same text in different places without typing it again

Old-fashioned copy
Kelly Sillaste / Getty Images

The iPad has transitioned from a device used to read books and watch movies to a full-fledged productivity machine. It may not completely replace a laptop, but it has many of the same functions to create and update content. Here's a rundown of a simple but useful part of producing on your tablet: cutting and pasting.

Instructions in this article apply to devices running iOS 9 or later.

How to Copy, Cut, and Paste on iPad

Instead of typing the same text over and over, use copy or cut to place the text on the iPad clipboard then paste the text from the clipboard into any app or document.

  1. Open the document or text file that contains the text you want to cut or copy.

  2. Tap and hold the text you want to select.

  3. Use the magnifier to position the cursor at the beginning or at the end of the section you want to cut or copy.

    Copy and paste on iPad
  4. Lift your finger when the cursor is where you want it to display a menu.

    This menu may also contain app-specific items depending on the program.

    Copy and paste on iPad
  5. Tap Select.

    Tap Select All to automatically select all the text on the page.

    Copy and paste on iPad
  6. The cursor goes into Selection Mode, which adds blue circles to the top and bottom of the line. Use these to select the text you want to cut or copy. Drag the top circle to set the beginning of the selection and the bottom one to set the end.

    In some apps, enter Selection Mode by double-tapping the text you want to select.

  7. When the text is selected, a menu appears.

    Copy and paste on iPad
  8. Tap Cut to delete the selected text from the document and place a copy in the clipboard. Or, tap Copy to place a copy on the clipboard without removing it from the original document.

    Copy and paste on iPad
  9. Open the app or document where you want to insert the copied or cut text.

  10. Tap and hold to display the magnifier, then place the cursor where you want to paste the text. When you lift your finger, tap Paste.

    Copy and Paste on iPad
  11. The cut or copied text appears in the cursor location.

    Copy and paste on iPad
  12. Format the pasted text. Line breaks and other formatting may need to be replaced after the text is pasted in the document.

Keyboard Shortcuts on the iPad

The iPad default keyboard gained some shortcuts and buttons with iOS 9. Use these keyboard shortcuts to cut, copy, and paste without going to the pop-up menu.

Copy and paste on iPad

In programs such as Notes, when text is selected a menu appears in the upper-left corner of the keyboard. Tap the menu to display a set of options. The scissors icon cuts text. The icon that looks like a dashed box in front of a solid one copies text. And the clipboard icon replaces the selected text with what is in the clipboard (paste).

Use the Virtual Trackpad to Cut and Paste

The iOS virtual trackpad also makes copying and pasting easier. To activate it, either tap and hold two fingers on the keyboard or long-press the space bar.

iPad trackpad

To select text, hold two fingers on the keyboard for a second or two until the cursor enters Selection Mode. Drag your fingers on the iPad display to select the text you want, then cut, copy, or paste.

Cut and Paste with Multitasking on iPad

The multitasking options that Apple added to the iPad in iOS 9 make it easy to copy and paste both text and pictures from one app to another. Usually, to copy and paste, text or images are copied in one app, another app is opened, then the text is pasted in the second app.

Slide Over on iPad

When using Slide Over or Split View, however, both apps can be open at once. Cut or copy the content in one app, then paste it into the second app without opening or closing any screens.