This set of features is probably the single most useful thing you can learn to do on a computer. It works on both PC and MAC systems. It also works between programs. You can copy something from one program and paste it into another.


The idea is you COPY or CUT a section of text from a document and then PASTE it somewhere else.


This allows you to edit text by moving its position within a document or between documents. You may copy text from one document to another even if the documents are not in the same program. For example, you could copy a block of text from an internet page into a word processing program. This is useful if the internet page won't print for you.



Select Text to Cut or Copy

To CUT or COPY text you must first select it . An easy way to select text is to position the mouse pointer at the beginning of the text, DRAG the mouse pointer to the end of the text by holding down the mouse button (left button on PCs) and releasing the button at the end of the text. The selected text should remain highlighted. If you make a mistake just click somewhere else and the highlighting should disappear.


Another way to select a block of text is to click at the beginning of a selection then Shift click at the end. shift-click means to hold down the Shift key and then do a mouse click.

More on selecting text below.



Cut or Copy

Now that text is selected you can CUT or COPY it. You can pretty much COPY anything you can select. You can only CUT your own documents. The difference is COPY leaves the selected text intact in the original document, while CUT removes the text. Obviously you won't be allowed to CUT something that isn't yours. In any case the text that is CUT or COPIED gets saved in a place called the clipboard, where it is available to be PASTED.


To actually CUT or COPY you can use either the mouse or the keyboard. With text selected, go to the menu bar and click on the word Edit which is usually just to the right of the word File. When the menu drops down, choose either CUT or COPY. -You might notice to the right of the words are shortcut keys.


These are keyboard shortcuts you can use instead of the mouse to CUT, COPY or PASTE. On a PC the shortcuts are Ctrl - X, Ctrl - C and Ctrl - V which means hold down the Control key and hit the X, C or V key. On a MAC use the Command key which is the key with the apple on it  and X, C or V. On a Qwerty keyboard the X, C and V keys are located together and an easy way to remember their functions is: X like a pair of scissors (cut), C for COPY and V like an inverted insert character (paste).



Once text has been selected and CUT or COPIED, it can then be PASTED somewhere else. So move the mouse pointer to different location in your document or open a different document, position the mouse pointer where you want the text inserted, click once to set the insertion bar, then click on Edit, PASTE (or hit Ctrl - V or Command - V) and the text will be inserted into your document. If you already have text selected (highlighted), it will be replaced by the text being pasted.


The text you just PASTED is still in the clipboard and can be PASTED multiple times. It stays in the clipboard until you CUT or COPY something else.


There is a third way to CUT, COPY or PASTE. In addition to using the Edit menu or the keyboard shortcuts, you can right click, which will bring up a menu with CUT, COPY or PASTE as options. Note that if you haven't CUT or COPIED anything, PASTE will not be available. Note also that CUT and COPY are only available when something is selected (highlighted).



Selecting blocks of text

Most word processing programs allow you to quickly select blocks of text by multiple clicking. In Word or OpenOffice if you click twice (quickly) on a word, the entire word will be selected. Control - Click selects the sentence. Clicking three times anywhere in a paragraph selects the paragraph.


WordPerfect does it slightly differently: 2 clicks = a word, three = a sentence, 4 = a paragraph.


Control - A (on a PC) or Command - A (on a MAC) will select everything, think of it as A for all.


Here is another way to select a block of text: Click somewhere in the text then move the cursor to another place in the text and Shift - Click i.e. hold down the Shift key as you click with the mouse. All the text in between will be selected.



Selecting Files

In the same way that you can select text, you can also select files in a list of files or email messages in a list of messages. Click and Shift-click to select a block of files. Use the Control key ( Mac: use the Apple or command key) to select noncontiguous files. Using Control-click will toggle (i.e. switch) the selection from on to off or off to on. Another way to use this is to Click and shift-click a selection of files and then Control-click to deselect a few of the files.