How to Use Keyboard Shortcuts in Windows: Cut, Copy, and Paste | Digital Trends (2024)

Are you tired of all the right-clicking just to access simple commands like cut, copy, and paste? Sure, it’s not super labor-intensive, but it can get really annoying after a while when you’re constantly summoning one of these actions using a mechanical rodent.


  • Selecting text and moving your cursor (without a mouse)
  • Cut shortcut — Ctrl + X
  • Copy shortcut — Ctrl + C
  • Paste shortcut — Ctrl + V
  • Undo shortcut — Ctrl + Z
  • An extra tip on working between apps

If you’re not utilizing shortcut commands, you’re missing out on an easy way to save time and effort. Read on to learn simple commands that combine Control (Ctrl) and other keys to cut, copy, paste, and even undo actions across Windows apps.

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Selecting text and moving your cursor (without a mouse)

How to Use Keyboard Shortcuts in Windows: Cut, Copy, and Paste | Digital Trends (1)

The first step to cutting, copying, and pasting is to select (or highlight) the text using your mouse and cursor. However, to some degree, the most common method of doing so — using your computer mouse — defeats our keyboard shortcut instincts.


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Navigate your cursor to the desired location to paste or begin cutting or pasting using the arrow keys, page up or page down keys, Home (to move to beginning of current line), or End (to move to end of current line.

Hold Shift to beginhighlighting text, moving the cursor using the same keys above.

Cut shortcut — Ctrl + X

How to Use Keyboard Shortcuts in Windows: Cut, Copy, and Paste | Digital Trends (2)

When cutting text using the shortcut, you remove it from the target location while sending it to your clipboard in the system memory. Ctrl + X lets you remove text in one area and paste that same text multiple times in other areas.

Originally, Windows didn’t automatically keep a history of items on your clipboard, meaning text was rewritten in memory each time you typed the keyboard shortcut. That changed with the October 2018 Update, whichintroduced an extended clipboard with history.

To access this history, you can type the Windows Key + V combination. A pop-up window appears listing a backlog of text you previously cut along with text you copied using a different keyboard shortcut (see the next section). Just select one of the recorded entries, and it will paste to your target document. However, you’ll need to manually enable it the first time you type the Windows Key + V combination.

Overall, this is a great way to rearrange text in a report or take a piece of information from one area and populate multiple forms with that same data. It has no alternative inputs, however. Yes, Shift + Delete was once a thing, but that combo is now used for other commands.

Copy shortcut — Ctrl + C

How to Use Keyboard Shortcuts in Windows: Cut, Copy, and Paste | Digital Trends (3)

This keyboard shortcut for copying text is similar to Cut in that text is sent to the clipboard in the system memory. However, unlike Cut, the source text you copied isn’t deleted from the parent document.

If you are using a version of Windows 10 before the October 2018 Update (shame on you), all text copied to the clipboard will be overwritten the next time you use the Ctrl + C keyboard shortcut, just like Cut.

Alternatively, you can use the Ctrl + Ins shortcut. The Insert key is found on full-size keyboards with number pads. It may reside on the Zero key or as a dedicated key near the Home key. This may be a more useful option if you are dealing with a lot of numeric data and your fingers rarely leave the number pad.

Paste shortcut — Ctrl + V

How to Use Keyboard Shortcuts in Windows: Cut, Copy, and Paste | Digital Trends (4)

As a recap, both Ctrl + Xand Ctrl + C copy text to the clipboard, only the former shortcut removes the copied text from the document; the latter doesn’t. The Ctrl + V keyboard shortcut is the exact opposite: It pastes text from the clipboard into your document wherever your cursor resides.

Remember that formatting and spacing frequently carry over with the text, which may lead to issues when pasting into a new field or form. You can usually copy and paste an unformatted version of the text to help avoid these problems.

Alternatively, you can use the Shift + Ins shortcut, which may be more useful if you spend a lot of time on the numeric keypad. The pasted text will appear wherever your cursor is, so make sure you’ve picked the right spot.

Undo shortcut — Ctrl + Z

How to Use Keyboard Shortcuts in Windows: Cut, Copy, and Paste | Digital Trends (5)

Whoops! Didn’t mean to overwrite that sentence, did you? This handy keyboard shortcut will undo the last action you made. If you were typing, for example, it will remove the last section of text you typed before pausing, which could be fairly long.

Most Windows applications support repeated undo commands, which means you can delete your last action, the one before that, and the one before that, and so on, so long as Windows kept a history of your actions. Adobe Photoshop, for example, lets you do so by pressing Ctrl + Z.

Unfortunately, the functionality isn’t universal with every app. Before trusting it in a higher-stakes scenario, you should confirm that the commands are supported by your app.

An extra tip on working between apps

Every Windows program supports cut, copy, paste, and undo commands. They’re a part of the Windows foundation.

The shortcuts do the same thing every day. The standard Ctrl plus a letter executes a specific task. It works the same while writing spreadsheets, drafting emails, or creating documents.

Online forms and apps aren’t as reliable. Many support the same shortcuts, but there’s no guarantee. Before trusting it, try out the new app. Execute a few commands to make sure it runs reliably.

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How to Use Keyboard Shortcuts in Windows: Cut, Copy, and Paste | Digital Trends (2024)


How to Use Keyboard Shortcuts in Windows: Cut, Copy, and Paste | Digital Trends? ›

Ctrl+X: Cut the selected text. Ctrl+C: Copy the selected text. Ctrl+V: Paste the copied or cut text.

What is the shortcut key for cut copy and paste answer? ›

Keyboard shortcuts:
  • Ctrl+C = Copy.
  • Ctrl+X = Cut.
  • Ctrl+V = Paste.

What are the keyboard shortcuts for cut copy and paste Windows? ›

Ctrl+X: Cut the selected text. Ctrl+C: Copy the selected text. Ctrl+V: Paste the copied or cut text.

How do I learn Windows keyboard shortcuts? ›

Windows keyboard shortcuts
  1. Copy: Ctrl + C.
  2. Cut: Ctrl + X.
  3. Paste: Ctrl + V.
  4. Maximize Window: F11 or Windows logo key + Up arrow.
  5. Open Task View: Windows logo key + Tab.
  6. Display and hide the desktop: Windows logo key + D.
  7. Switch between open apps: Alt + Tab.
  8. Open the Quick Link menu: Windows logo key + X.

How do I assign a cut copy and paste shortcut to function keys? ›

To assign a keyboard shortcut do the following: Begin keyboard shortcuts with CTRL or a function key. Press the TAB key repeatedly until the cursor is in the Press new shortcut key box. Press the combination of keys that you want to assign.

What is Ctrl + V short cut? ›

(ConTRoL-V) In a Windows PC, holding down the Ctrl key and pressing the V key pastes the contents of the clipboard into the current cursor location. The Mac equivalent is Command-V. See Ctrl-C.

How do I learn to copy and paste? ›

Try it!
  1. Cut. Select Cut. or press Ctrl + X.
  2. Paste. Select Paste. or press Ctrl + V. Note: Paste only uses your most recently copied or cut item.
  3. Copy. Select Copy. or press Ctrl + C.

What are all the copy and paste shortcuts? ›

PC: Ctrl + c for Copy, Ctrl + x for Cut, and Ctrl + v for Paste. Mac: ⌘ + c for Copy, ⌘ + x for Cut, and ⌘ + v for Paste.

What are the 20 shortcut keys a to z? ›

Here are some of the most commonly used Shortcut keys in Windows:
  • Ctrl + C: Copy.
  • Ctrl + X: Cut.
  • Ctrl + V: Paste.
  • Ctrl + Z: Undo.
  • Ctrl + Y: Redo.
  • Ctrl + A: Select All.
  • Ctrl + F: Find.
  • Ctrl + S: Save.
Nov 21, 2023

What is the fastest way to learn keyboard shortcuts? ›

The best way to quickly learn keyboard shortcuts for a new program is to practice and memorize them. You can start by using the most common and frequently used ones, such as saving, copying, pasting, undoing, and switching windows.

What are some cool keyboard tricks? ›

Basic Windows keyboard shortcuts
  • Ctrl+W: Close.
  • Ctrl+A: Select all.
  • Alt+Tab: Switch apps.
  • Alt+F4: Close apps.
  • Win+D: Show or hide the desktop.
  • Win+left arrow or Win+right arrow: Snap windows.
  • Win+Tab: Open the Task view.
  • [Related: The fastest way to install Windows software]
Apr 20, 2023

What is the most useful shortcut key? ›

Top 10 Keyboard Shortcuts
  • - Top 10 Keyboard Shortcuts -
  • Ctrl+C or Ctrl+Insert and Ctrl+X. Both Ctrl+C and Ctrl+Insert will copy highlighted text or a selected item. ...
  • Ctrl+V or Shift+Insert. ...
  • Ctrl+Z and Ctrl+Y. ...
  • Ctrl+F. ...
  • Alt+Tab or Ctrl+Tab. ...
  • Ctrl+Backspace and Ctrl+Left or Right arrow. ...
  • Ctrl+S.

How to program keyboard shortcuts? ›

Once the program is on the taskbar:
  1. Right-click the desired icon.
  2. At the bottom of the drop-down menu, above “unpin”, right-click the name of the program. ...
  3. Left-click “properties”
  4. Click on the text box that says “shortcut key”
  5. Type in your desired keyboard combination by pressing the keys.
  6. Once completed, click “o*k”

What is the difference between paste and paste shortcuts? ›

Paste is a feature that lets users cut or copy items from a document and transfer them to another. Paste Special allows the items being transferred to be formatted in several different ways. Paste Special is a feature found in Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and OpenOffice.

How to change copy and paste settings in Windows 10? ›

Set default paste options

Go to File > Options > Advanced. Under Cut, copy, and paste, select the down arrow for the setting to change. Pasting within the same document When you paste content into the same document from which you copied the content.

Where is the cut copy and paste button? ›

The Paste, Cut, Copy, and Format Painter buttons should be in the Clipboard section at the left end of the Home ribbon. The Paste icon is grayed out if nothing has been either cut or copied to the clipboard yet. The Cut (scissors) and Copy (two pages) icons are grayed out if nothing has been selected.

What are the copy cut and paste buttons? ›

PST "Cut", "Copy" and "Paste" are icons/buttons that perform editing functions on text in a text area box. Text area boxes are white areas in which you can type text e.g. your SCIENTIFIC JUSTIFICATION or TECHNICAL JUSTIFICATION.

What is the Ctrl C and V keyboard? ›

The most common shortcuts include cut (Ctrl X), copy (Ctrl C), and paste (Ctrl+V). These three shortcuts alone provide users with enough handy tools for basic usage, but further combinations exist depending on what program is being used, such as selecting all (Ctrl+A) and undo/redo (Ctrl Z and Ctrl Y).

What is the shortcut to select all text? ›

Press Ctrl+A on your keyboard to select all text in the document.

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