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How To Copy And Paste In Windows

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

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

How to Copy & Paste.

To see how Copy and Paste works, we’ll use the example of copying a single picture to a USB drive.

It’s the kind of common thing that many of us will want to do from time to time.


How to Copy.

The first thing you need to do is to find the file (picture) that you want to copy.

Navigate to the folder where your picture is located.

In this first example, it’s going to be in your Pictures folder.

Images inside an open pictures folder.

If you’re not sure about finding your files click At Home Computer Guide to Navigating Your PC.

Once you’ve found your picture, select it by left-clicking on it once.

A highlight will appear around the file to indicated that it has indeed been selected.

Image of woman in a wedding dress is selected.

With the file selected, right-click on it, and the options menu will open.

Left-click on the word COPY.

Windows 10 won’t give you any indication that it has done anything. All that seems to happen is that the options menu disappears.

There is also a keyboard shortcut to copy selected items, CTRL (Control) and the letter C.

Options menu open and COPY is selected.


How to Paste.

With the file copied, you now need to navigate to the folder where you want to put (or place) the file.

Placing the file is called pasting. You’re said to Paste the file.

Navigate to the folder or drive where the file is to be pasted.

In the left-hand panel, find and left-click once on your USB drive.

USB drive selected in left hand navigation panel of File Explorer.

In the main panel, right-click on a bit of free space to open the options menu.

On the options menu, left-click once on the word PASTE.

Your file will appear.

If it’s a large file, maybe a video, it may take a little time to transfer.

Or you can use the keyboard shortcut CTRL (Control) and the letter V. V for Paste, erm, we’ll come back to that

Options menu is open and PASTE has been clicked. The image has appeared on the USB drive.

When you use Copy & Paste, what you’re doing is telling your computer to make a duplicate (copy) of the selected file/files and then to transfer that duplicate (paste) into the location that you’ve specified.


It’s a duplicate file.

When you’re copying & pasting files and/or folders, it’s important to remember that you’re not moving a file/folder as such.

You are creating an exact duplicate. The original file stays where it is.

So using the example above, you’d now have two versions of the same picture.

The original, which remains in your Pictures folder, and the duplicated (or copied) version that is on your USB stick.

The Pictures folder is open beside the USB drive folder. The same picture appears in both folders.


Copy and Paste multiple files/folders.

As well as using Copy & Paste on single files, you can also use it on multiple files and entire folders.

Another thing to note. is that the files really don’t have to be the same type of files. For example, you can select and copy and paste images, documents and videos all at the same time.

As an example, let’s say you’re tidying up your Desktop.

The first thing to do is to select all the files and folders.

To do that, hold down the CTRL key on your keyboard and then left-click once on each item.

You can see what’s been selected because a highlight will appear around the file/folder.

Files and folder selected on a Windows desktop.

In the image above the highlight appears very faint, but it is there. On your own computer, it should show a little bolder.

With everything selected, right-click on one of the items.

It doesn’t matter which one you right-click on, but you do have to click directly onto one of them.

The options menu will appear and now it’s exactly the same as copying a single file.

Left-click COPY.

Or CTRL + C on your keyboard.

Right click options menu is open. Copy is indicated.

Again, Windows won’t give you any indication that the files and folders have been copied. All that happens when you click COPY is that the options menu disappears.

Navigate to the folder/drive where you want to place the items.

In this example, that would be your Documents folder, so left click File Explorer on your Taskbar.

Or use the keyboard shortcut Windows key + E.

Standard UK layout keyboard. Windows key and letter E are indicated.

And then click Documents in the left-hand panel.

In the main panel, right-click in a bit of free space (not touching anything else) to open the options menu and then left-click PASTE.

If you’re struggling to find some free space to right-click, use the keyboard shortcut CTRL (Control) and the letter V.

Documents folder marked in navigation panel of File Explorer. Also the options menu is open and Paste is highlighted.

Again it might take a little while for your selected items to be pasted into place, it all depends on the size of the files/folders and the speed of your PC.

Copy & Paste into a new folder.

When you’re pasting files/folders, you can also create a new folder for them at the same time. Handy to know when you’re organising your pictures or documents.

Let’s say you wanted to Copy & Paste your holiday pics onto a USB stick, but you wanted to keep them all together in a folder on the stick.

Select and Copy all your pictures just as above.

Image files selected and Copy is indicated on the options menu.

Navigate to your USB drive.

To create a folder to put your pictures into, right-click on the main panel in a bit of free space to open the options menu.

Move your pointer onto the word NEW. A second menu appears, left-click FOLDER.

A “New Folder” appears. Give the folder a name.

Options menu open. New and Folder are highlighted.

Alternately you could use the keyboard shortcut CTRL + Shift + N to create your New Folder. We covered creating folders here How To Create Name Rename And Delete Folders

With your folder suitably named, right-click on it, then left-click PASTE.

The New Folder has been right clicked. Paste is marked in the options menu.

Is the copy the same as the original?

In a word, yes it is. Whether you’re copying pictures, videos music or whatever, the copied version of the file is exactly the same as the original version.

That’s because of the way in which computers store data (files).

Take a look at the image opposite. It’s a work of art, and as such, can’t be replicated. At least not on canvas.

In our human world, it’s generally the case that the original is better than the copy.

Once the image has been digitised, stored on a computer, it’s no longer paint and canvas.

It’s ones and zeros. That’s how computers store all your files.

So what we humans see as a picture, what the PC sees is a series of ones and zeros (bits).

So when a computer copies a file, it simply makes a note of the ones and zeros and the order in which they appear.


Copy & Paste is just one of those things that you’ll need to do on your computer on a regular basis. It’s how you can move files and folders around with ease.

Windows 10 is packed with keyboard shortcuts, most of which you’ll rarely need, but CTRL + C for Copy and CTRL + V for Paste are two that you really do want to take the time to learn.

PS. Why V for Paste? That’s easy to answer. CTRL + P is already taken, it tells the computer to print. So why use the letter V? It’s next to the letter C on your keyboard.

Next Page

Move files easily

Scissors and a pasting brush over a computer folder

Sounds like Copy & Paste, and it is, but with one big difference. We’ll look at how to Cut & Paste, and how it differs from Copy & Paste. It can be a real time saver.

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