How to Copy and Paste Text on the iPad

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

These instructions apply to devices running iOS 9 or later.

How to Copy, Cut, and Paste on iPad

  1. Open the document or text file you want to modify or copy.

  2. Tap and hold on the text you want to select. A magnifier will appear that lets you position the cursor to the beginning or end of the section you wish to modify.

    Copy and paste on iPad
  3. Lift your finger when you have the cursor where you want it. A menu will appear with options like Select and Select All.

    This menu may also contain app-specific items depending on which program you're using.

    Copy and paste on iPad
  4. Tap Select.

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

    Copy and paste on iPad
  5. The cursor will enter 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, you can enter Selection Mode by double-tapping the text you want to select.

  6. Once you've selected all of the text you want, a new menu will appear.

    Copy and paste on iPad
  7. Tap Cut to delete the selected text from the document and place a copy in the clipboard. Tap Copy to place a copy on the clipboard without removing it from the original document. Tap Paste to replace the text you've selected with whatever's currently on the clipboard.

    To move text from one place to another in the same document, tap Cut.

    Copy and paste on iPad
  8. The text you'd selected will disappear. Tap and hold to bring up the magnifier again, and then place the cursor where you want to paste the text. When you lift your finger, tap Paste on the menu.

    Copy and Paste on iPad
  9. The text you cut will reappear wherever you put the cursor.

You may need to replace line breaks or other formatting after you paste in the new text.

Copy and paste on iPad

Keyboard Shortcuts on the iPad

Copy and paste on iPad

The iPad's default keyboard gained some shortcuts and buttons with iOS 9 that let you cut, copy, and paste without using the pop-up menu.

In programs like Notes, selecting text will pull up a menu in the upper-left corner of the keyboard. Tap it to pull up options. The icon shaped like scissors cuts text. The one that looks like a dashed box in front of a solid one copies it. And the one with the clipboard replaces the selected text with whatever's in the clipboard (paste).

Using the Virtual Trackpad to Cut and Paste

iPad trackpad

iOS' virtual trackpad can also make copying and pasting easier. You activate it either by tapping and holding two fingers on the keyboard or doing a long press on the space bar.

Using this feature makes it easier to select text. To do this, hold two fingers on the keyboard, and then keep them there for a second or two until the cursor enters Selection Mode. Drag your fingers on the iPad display to select the text you want, and then cut, copy, or paste as usual.

Cutting and Pasting with Multitasking on iPad

Slide Over 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, you'd copy something from one app, open the other app, and then paste it over.

If you're using Slide Over or Split View, however, you can have both open at once. Cut or copy the content you want in one app, and then paste it into the second one without opening or closing any screens.