How to Copy and Paste on an iPhone

Move text around or save it for later

Copy-and-paste is one of the most basic and most commonly used features of any desktop or laptop computer. The iPhone (and iPad and iPod Touch) also has a copy and paste feature. But without an Edit menu at the top of every app like on macOS or Windows, it can be hard to find. Here's how to use copy and paste on the iPhone and other iOS devices.

Instructions in this article apply to devices with iOS 3.0 and later.

How to Copy and Paste Text on iPhone

Illustration of a person copying highlighted text on their iPhone
Lifewire / Maritsa Patrinos

The copy and paste commands are accessed through a pop-up menu. Most apps support this feature.

  1. Find the text you want to copy.

  2. Tap a word or area of the screen, and hold your finger down until a window appears that magnifies the text you selected. When it shows up, remove your finger. The copy and paste menu ​appears, and the word or section of text you tapped is highlighted.

    Depending on the app, there may be different options when the menu appears.

    Opening the copy and paste menu on an iPhone
  3. Drag the handles (circles) at the edges of the highlighted word or section to select more text. Tap and drag either of the blue lines in the direction you want to select—left and right, up and down. The menu reappears when you stop selecting.

    Selection tool on an iPhone
  4. When the text you want to copy is highlighted, tap Copy. The copied text saves to a virtual clipboard. After you tap an option on the menu, the menu disappears.

    The clipboard can only contain one copied item (text, image, link, or another item) at a time. If you copy one item, then copy something else, you lose the first item.

    Copying text on an iPhone
  5. Go to the app you want to copy the text into. It can be the same app you copied it from—like copying text from one email to another in Mail—or another app, such as copying something from the Safari web browser into a to-do list app.

  6. Tap the location in the app or 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.

    Pasting text on an iPhone
  7. When you paste into a document that contains words, drag your finger after the magnifier appears to place the cursor where you want the new text to appear.

How to Copy Links on an iPhone

To copy a link, tap and hold the link until a menu appears from the bottom of the screen with the URL of the link at the top. Tap Copy. Paste it using the same steps as other text.

Copying a link on an iPhone

How to Copy Images on an iPhone

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

Not all apps support copying images.

Copying an image on iPhone

Advanced Features: Look Up, Share, and Universal Clipboard

The copy-and-paste menu contains more options than those. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Look Up: To get the definition for a word, tap and hold the word until it's selected. Then, tap Look Up to get a dictionary definition, suggested websites, and more.
  • Share: After you copy text, pasting isn't the only thing you can do. You might prefer to share it with another app such as Twitter, Facebook, or Evernote, for example. To do that, select the text you want to share and tap Share in the pop-up menu to reveal the sharing sheet at the bottom of the screen (as if you tapped the box with the arrow coming out of it) and the other apps you can share to.
  • Universal Clipboard: If you have an iPhone and a Mac, and both are configured to use the Handoff feature, use the Universal Clipboard to copy text on your iPhone and paste it on your Mac, or vice versa, using iCloud