How to copy and paste on a phone or tablet [with images]

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There is no need to re-type things on a phone or tablet. You can copy and paste, just like you would on a computer. It's a little bit different than how you'd do it on a computer, but rest assured it's easy! This works equally for phone or for tablet, and for Android and Apple. Here's how.

I'll give you the quick version first, and if that doesn't make much sense (it may be the case for new touchscreen users), then scroll down further for my step-by-step illustrated version. If you have any problems, I've included some extra tips for special situations at the end of the article also.

Quick version:

  • Long-press on any word within the area of what you want to copy. A menu and handles will pop up.
  • Drag left and right handles to select the start and end of the area you wish to be copied.
  • Press "Copy" on the pop-up menu.
  • Go to the bit on your phone where you want to paste it in, for example your memo app, or wherever else. Take your time, there is no rush, even if you can't see the text you copied anymore.
  • Once you've found where you want to paste it, just long-press again. It's OK if a keyboard comes up at this point. Besides the keyboard, a pop-up menu will appear on the screen, and from that menu, press "Paste". That's it! The copied text will now be pasted in the bit where you long-pressed. Done!

If you got stuck at any point, you may prefer the illustrated version below. There are also some tips and tricks at the end.

Step-by-step illustrated version:

Step 1: Do a long press on any area that's part of what you want to copy

That's right, you don't have to get exactly to the start of the bit you want. As long as you have a word that's part of what you want to copy, that's all you need to begin with. A long press means you keep your finger on it for a few seconds, so just plant your finger there for a little while, and you'll see the copy-paste menu come up. It'll look like this screenshot of my phone. My phone is an Android, but if you have an Apple it'll still look very similar:

Screenshot of phone with one word selected for copy and paste

As you can see in the image above, one word will become highlighted and a copy-paste menu will appear above. The next step is to move the left and right handles to select the start and end of the region you wish to copy.

Step 2: Drag the handles to select the full area you wish to copy

Drag the left handle leftward to the start of the bit you want to copy. Then drag the right handle rightward to the end of what you want to copy. You may stop mid-word if you wish; there is no requirement for it to start or stop at the end of a word.

Try not to press anywhere outside of the area of interest during this process, otherwise it'll cancel your copy and paste. If that happens though, don't worry! Just start over at step 1, it's no big deal. Those handles can be a bit tricky if this is your first time dragging them.

When you are satisfied that you have selected the full area, your screen might look something like this:

Screenshot of phone with a  sentence selected for copy and paste

Step 3: Press on "Copy" in the pop-up menu

Screenshot of phone with a  sentence selected, and the copy function circled

Step 4: Open the new app or browser where you want to paste the text

Now it's time to paste. Just go to the app or browser where you want the text to get pasted in. Here I'm using my memo app for this purpose, but the process works the same for any other destination.

Do a long press in the area where you want to paste text. In this case, I did the long press after the words "Let's enter the copied text here." You will then see a menu pop up like before, but this time the word "Paste" is available. Just press "Paste" and the text will appear where you want it to be.

Screenshot of phone memo app with paste menu popped up

That's it! All done.

Tips and tricks

If you are copying the text because you want to share it on social media or something like that, there's an even easier way to do it that doesn't involve pasting it. Just do the long press as you would for copy, then when the pop-up menu comes up, pick "Share" instead of Copy. Share will then let you pick where you want to share it to (e.g. WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, etc).

This page was last updated on 15 Aug 2020.

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