How to Copy & Paste Without a Mouse

Stop right-clicking and use your keyboard instead

Hand on computer mouse
Westend61 / Getty Images

Some windows you open on your computer might not support the right-click context menu. This means that when you try right-clicking, not only is there no menu that shows up but you're left wondering if you can copy or paste the text or image.

Fortunately, most programs support keyboard shortcuts for copying and pasting so that you can perform these actions without needing an on-screen menu. The great thing is that nearly all programs come with these shortcuts built-in, so you don't need to worry about learning anything but these.

What's more is that there's another shortcut that can not just copy and paste but even delete the original content all in one shortcut.

How to Copy and Paste With the Ctrl/Command Key

  • Copy: Ctrl+C (Windows) or Command+C (Mac)
  • Paste: Ctrl+V (Windows) or Command+V (Mac)
  • Cut: Ctrl+X (Windows) or Command+X (Mac)

Follow these steps if you need a bit more help:

  1. Highlight whatever you plan to copy.

    If the program doesn't let you use your mouse, try hitting Ctrl+A on your keyboard to select all the text, or Command+A if you're using a Mac.

  2. Press the Ctrl key and hold it down. While doing that, press the letter C once, and then let go of the Ctrl key. You've just copied the contents to the clipboard.

  3. To paste, hold down the Ctrl or Command key again but this time press the letter V once. Ctrl+V and Command+V is how you paste without a mouse.


The above steps are useful if you want to keep the original content and just make a copy elsewhere. For example, if you want to copy an email address from a website and paste it into your email program.

There's a totally different shortcut you can use to copy and paste and then automatically delete the original content, called cutting. This is useful in a circumstance like when you're re-arranging paragraphs in an email and you want to remove the text to put it elsewhere.

To cut something is as simple as using the Ctrl+X shortcut in Windows or Command+X in macOS. The moment you strike Ctrl/Command+X, the information disappears and is saved in the clipboard. To paste the contents, just use the paste hotkey mentioned above (the Ctrl or Command key and the letter V).

Some programs let you do a bit more with copy/paste by combining the Ctrl keyboard shortcut, but you'll need your mouse, too. For example, in the Chrome web browser in Windows, you can hold the Ctrl key while you right-click with the mouse to choose to Paste as plain text, which will paste the clipboard contents without any formatting.