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How To Copy And Paste In Windows

Copy & Paste is a way of duplicating a file (a document, a picture, a video etc), and then placing that duplicate file somewhere else on your computer.

For example, if you wanted to put some pictures onto a USB stick, but still keep the originals on your computer, you’d Copy and Paste them to the USB stick.

How To Copy And Paste.

To see how to Copy and Paste, we’ll use the example of copying a single picture from the Pictures folder and pasting that picture onto your Desktop. It’s the kind of common thing that many of us will want to do from time to time.

We’ll be using File Explorer to find the files, folders and drives that we need. We covered using File Explorer earlier in the course. If you missed it you can check it out here How To Use Windows File Explorer

Find (or navigate to) the file that you’re going to copy, in this example, it’s going to be an image file from the Pictures folder. So I’ve opened File Explorer and then clicked Pictures in the navigation panel.

Once you’ve found your file, left-click it once to select it, a highlight will appear around the file to indicate that it has indeed been selected.

How To Copy A File In Windows 11.

In Windows 11, there are three ways in which to copy a file. It really doesn’t matter which way you choose, the important thing is that you have to select the file first by left-clicking on it once.

Firstly, with the file selected (a highlight around it) left-click the Copy icon (button) on the folder options panel.

The Copy button is indicated in Windows 11
Select your file and then click Copy
Close up view of the Windows 11 Copy button (icon)
Close up of the Copy button in Windows 11.

Secondly, you can right-click on the file and then left-click the Copy icon (button) on the context menu.

Or thirdly, you can use a keyboard shortcut. Press the CTRL key and the letter C on your keyboard at the same time.

Context menu open and Copy button indicated in Windows 11
Right-click the file and then left-click Copy
CTRL and letter C indicated on keyboard
Or press CTRL + C

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How To Copy A File In Windows 10.

In Windows 10, with the file selected, right-click on it to open the context menu.

On the menu, left-click COPY.

Or you can use the keyboard shortcut CTRL + C. On your keyboard, press the CTRL key and the letter C at the same time.

Windows 10 context menu open. Copy is indicated
In Windows 10, right-click the file and then left-click COPY from the menu.
Windows 10 - CTRL and letter C indicated
Or press CTRL (Control) and the letter C at the same time.

How To Paste The File

Now that the file (the picture in this example) has been copied to the computer’s clipboard, the next thing to do is to put (or place) the file into whichever folder or drive you’d like it to go into.

Placing a file like this is called Pasting, you paste the file into whichever folder you want it to go into.

Find the folder or drive where you want the copied file to be placed (pasted). In the example we’ve been following, we’re copying a picture from the Pictures folder and Pasting it onto the Desktop.

From the Pictures folder, you can left-click Desktop in the navigation panel on the left.

If you wanted the file to be in any other folder, such as in your Documents folder, then you’d click on Documents in the navigation panel.

Inside File Explorer the Desktop folder is marked
In File Explorer, click the folder that you want to paste the file into.

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How To Paste A File In Windows 11.

As with when you’re copying a file, in Windows 11, to paste a file you have three options.

Firstly, left-click on the Paste icon (button) on the folder options panel.

In Windows 11 the Paste button (icon) is highlighted
Click the Paste button (icon)
Windows 11 Paste button magnified
Close up of the Windows 11 Paste button

Secondly, you can right-click inside the centre panel.

On the context menu that appears, left-click the Paste button (icon)

Or thirdly, you can use the keyboard shortcut CTRL + V. on your keyboard, press the CTRL (Control) key and the letter V at the same time.

Paste indicated on Windows 11 context menu
Right-click, then left-click Paste
UK layout keyboard with the CTRL key and letter V marked
Or press CTRL and letter V

Whichever way you choose to use to paste the file, it will appear.

The image that has been copied and pasted is marked
The file has been copied from the Pictures folder and pasted onto the Desktop.

How To Paste In Windows 10

If you’re using Windows 10, to paste the file, right-click in the centre panel to open the context menu.

Left-click PASTE.

Or you can use the keyboard shortcut CTRL + V. On your keyboard press the CTRL (Control) key and the letter V at the same time.

Paste is highlighted on the Windows 10 right click context menu
Right-click then left-click Paste
CTRL key and letter V indicated on UK layout keyboard
Or press CTRL and V at the same time

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Copy & Paste Folders In Windows 10 & 11

You can also Copy & Paste entire folders in exactly the same way. When you copy a folder, all the contents of that folder are copied, including all the files, subfolders and files that are inside the subfolders. Everything.

Folders can get really large (individual files can too, especially if they’re video files), so sometimes when pasting you’ll see a progress indicator appear.

Copying files progress indicator in Windows 11
Copy and Paste progress indicator.

When You Copy & Paste You’re Creating A Duplicate File/Folder.

Whenever you use the Copy and Paste commands what you’re actually doing is creating an exact duplicate of the original file or folder.

It doesn’t matter what type of file it is, it could be an image (as we’ve used here), a document of some sort, a music file or indeed a video. The process is the same and you’ll finish with two versions of the same file.

Equally, with folders, it doesn’t matter what’s inside the folder. It doesn’t matter how many files or subfolders there are, they all get duplicated.

In our example, we copied and pasted a picture from the Pictures folder onto the Desktop.

So now we have got two versions of the picture, one in the Pictures folder and one on the Desktop.

File is shown in the Pictures folder and on the Desktop in Windows 11
The image is on the Desktop and in the Pictures folder in Windows 11
File is shown inside the Pictures folder and on Desktop in Windows 10
The image is on Desktop and in the Pictures folder in Windows 10

The Keyboard Shortcuts

It’s well worth taking the time to memorise the keyboard shortcuts CTRL + C and CTRL + V to copy and paste respectively. They come in handy and will definitely make things easier for you.

Computer file being cut with scissors and pasted with a brush. Text reads "How to Cut & Paste files and folders"
Next Page

Move It

Similar to Copy & Paste but with one very big difference.
Absolutely essential skill to have.

Next Page

Move It

Computer file being cut with scissors and pasted with a brush. Text reads "How to Cut & Paste files and folders"

Similar to Copy & Paste but with one very big difference.
Absolutely essential skill to have.


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