XDA Basics: How to copy and paste on Chromebook

XDA Basics: How to copy and paste on Chromebook

If you recently made the move to Chrome OS from a Mac or Windows PC, the new keyboard layout can be confusing. One of the first things you’ll have noticed is your new Chromebook keyboard doesn’t have a Caps lock key. After that initial shock subsided, you probably started thinking about your beloved keyboard shortcuts. When it comes to keyboard shortcuts, it’s hard to find a more important trio than copy, cut, and paste. Whether you use your laptop primarily for work or for play, you use this functionality daily.

The good news is that copying and pasting information is just as simple on Chrome OS as on Windows or macOS. In this tutorial we’ll take a look at how to copy and paste on a Chromebook, plus a few bonus keyboard tricks for increasing productivity. For those who prefer to use their touchpad or mouse, we also discuss how to copy and paste using this method.


Chrome keyboard shortcuts for text editing

For those of you using a Chromebook for work or school, you probably edit a fair amount of text. Luckily, a few of the text editing shortcuts you know from Windows or macOS carry over nicely to Chrome OS. Whether you use Google Docs, Microsoft Office, or another option, these general keyboard shortcuts will come in handy. Copy and paste is here, along with quite a few other nifty shortcuts.

We’ve also included a specific set of shortcuts relevant to use in Google Drive/Google Docs. Note that the ‘+’ symbol in each command indicates the keys must be pressed simultaneously to execute the shortcut. For more sweet tips on setting up your Chromebook, see our full Chrome OS settings guide.

General shortcuts for all apps

      • Copy content to the clipboard: Ctrl+c
      • Paste content from clipboard: Ctrl+v
      • Cut content: Ctrl+x
      • Open clipboard menu: Launcher  + or Search + v (this allows you to view the last 5 items copied)
      • Turn Caps Lock on or off: Search + Alt (or) Launcher  + Alt
      • Select everything on the page: Ctrl + a
      • Select the next word or letter: Shift + Ctrl + Right arrow
      • Select previous word or letter: Shift + Ctrl + Left arrow
      • Undo previous command: Ctrl+z 
      • Dim keyboard (for backlit keyboards only): Alt +
      • Make keyboard brighter (for backlit keyboards only): Alt +

Shortcuts specific to Google Drive/Docs

Google Drive in a Chrome browser

      • Document creation in Google Drive: Shift + T creates a new Doc, Shift + S creates a new Sheet, and Shift + F creates a new Folder.
      • Rename items in Google Drive: Tapping N pops up the window to rename the currently selected item. This is an incredibly useful tool to keep things organized on your Chromebook.
      • Clear formatting: Ctrl + \ will clear any weird formatting off of a section that copy-pasted in a strange way or with unintended formatting. On that note, you can use Ctrl+ Shift + V for pasting text without formatting.
      • Formatting lists: Ctrl + Shift + 7 will toggle on a numbered list or format highlighted text into a numbered list. Ctrl + Shift + 8 will do the same with a bulleted list.
      • Word count: Ctrl + Shift + C will bring up the word count screen, showing how many pages, words, and characters are in a highlighted section and the full document.
      • Voice typing: Ctrl + Shift + S will start voice typing, allowing you to add more text to your document without having to type it all out.
      • Go to top or bottom: Ctrl + Search + left arrow will go to the beginning of your document while Ctrl + Search + right arrow will go to the end.
      • Insert links: Ctrl + K will open the insert link window in Google Docs, allowing you to create a new hyperlink for new text or add a hyperlink to the text you had currently highlighted.

Copy and paste functionality using the touchpad or mouse

Perhaps keyboard shortcuts just aren’t your thing. Plenty of people prefer using the touchpad or an old-fashioned mouse to get the job done. It’s still incredibly easy to copy and paste text using either of these tools. Here’s the full process:

Chrome OS Clipboard with 5 items

  • Highlight the text you want to copy and paste.
  • Place the cursor over the highlighted text.
  • Tap on the trackpad with two fingers (or right click using your mouse).
  • Select Copy (note you can cut text the same way, just select Cut instead).
  • Move the cursor to where you want to paste the text and tap on the trackpad with two fingers (or right click using your mouse).
  • Select Paste.
  • You may also see Paste without formatting. This is helpful when pasting online content into a local document in the Microsoft Word Android app.

That’s all there is to it. You can copy and paste text on your Chromebook using keyboard shortcuts, or access these options from the touchpad or mouse. If you want to learn more awesome keyboard shortcuts for browsing, navigating, or editing on a Chromebook, check out our full guide to shortcuts on Chrome OS.

About author

Jeff Springer
Jeff Springer

Applied mathematician with a love for Android. I am interested in inverse problems for imaging and integration with camera software for mobile phones.

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