How to Copy and Paste Text on an iPhone

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Introduction to Copying and Pasting

using iphone copy paste, step 1

Copy/paste is one of the most basic and most commonly used features of any desktop or laptop computer. It's hard to imagine being able to use a computer without copy and paste, actually.

The iPhone has a copy and paste feature, but without an Edit menu at the top of every app, it can be hard to find (and, believe it or not, the iPhone didn't always have copy/paste. It took until the release of iOS 3.0 to add it). Once you know how to use it, you'll become a lot more productive on your smartphone.

Copy and paste is accessed through a pop-up menu that offers the ability to select text, copy it, and then paste it into the same or another app. Not every app supports copy and paste, but many do.

To get the pop up to appear, tap on a word or area of the screen and hold your finger down until the magnifying glass appears. When it shows up, you can remove your finger.

When you do this, the copy and paste pop up menu ​appears and the word or section of text you tapped is highlighted.

In some apps, the pop-up menu offers a Copy button and allows you to move boundaries of the selected text (see step 2 for more), while in others, it reads Select/Select All. If you've selected text in a document that you've created (a note or unsent email or text message, for instance). Cut is also an option that's not present in a document you didn't create, like an email someone has sent you.

Copying Images

You can also copy and paste many images on the iPhone. To do that, just tap and hold on the image until a menu pops up with copy as an option. Depending on the app, that menu may appear from the bottom of the screen.

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Changing the Selected Text

using iphone copy paste, step 3

Once you've brought up the copy and paste menu and selected a little text, you've got a decision to make: exactly what text to copy.

Changing Selected Text

When you select a single word, it's highlighted in light blue. At either end of the word, there is a blue line with a dot on it. This blue box indicates what you currently have selected to copy.

You can drag the boundaries to select more words to copy. To that, tap and drag either of the blue lines in the direction you want to copy (you can't drag the left boundary across the right one and vice versa).

Select All

The Select All option is fairly self-explanatory: choose that and you’ll copy all the text in the document.

Copying Text Onto Clipboard

When you've got the text you want to copy highlighted, tap Copy.

The copied text is saved to a virtual clipboard. The clipboard can only contain one snippet of copied text (or one copied image), so if you copy one thing and don't paste it, and then copy something else, the first selection will be lost.

You can copy the selected text as many times as you like, as long as you don't copy something new.

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Pasting Copied Content

using iphone copy paste, step 4

Once you've copied text, it's time to paste it. To do that, go to the app you want to copy the text into. It can be the same app you copied it from—like from one email to another in Mail—or another one entirely—such as copying something from Safari into a to-do list app).

Tap the place in the app/document where you want to paste the text and hold your finger down until the magnifying glass appears. When it does, remove your finger and the pop-up menu appears. Tap Paste to paste the text into place.