How to Copy and Paste in Linux: A Step-by-Step Guide

Copying and pasting in Linux is a straightforward task that can be completed in just a few steps. Whether you’re a newcomer to Linux or a seasoned pro, mastering this essential skill will help you work more efficiently. Let’s get right into it, shall we?

Step by Step Tutorial: How to Copy and Paste in Linux

Before we dive into the steps, it’s important to know that Linux has several different environments, each with its own set of commands. However, the most common way to copy and paste is through the graphical user interface (GUI) or the terminal.

Step 1: Select the Text

Click and drag your mouse over the text you want to copy.

Selecting the text is the first step in the copying process. Make sure you’ve highlighted exactly what you want to transfer, as anything within the highlighted area will be copied.

Step 2: Copy the Text

Press Ctrl+C on your keyboard to copy the selected text.

After selecting the text, using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+C will copy the text to the clipboard. This is the universal copy command in most Linux graphical environments.

Step 3: Position the Cursor

Move your cursor to the location where you want to paste the copied text.

Positioning the cursor is crucial because the text you paste will appear where the cursor is located. Be precise to avoid pasting in the wrong place.

Step 4: Paste the Text

Press Ctrl+V on your keyboard to paste the copied text.

And finally, the moment we’ve been waiting for—pasting! Using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+V will paste the copied text from the clipboard to the location of your cursor.

After completing these steps, the text you copied will now be duplicated in the location you chose. It’s that simple!

Tips for Copying and Pasting in Linux

  • Remember that in the terminal, the copy and paste shortcuts may be different. Often, Ctrl+Shift+C is used to copy and Ctrl+Shift+V to paste.
  • If you’re using a terminal, you can also use the right-click context menu to copy and paste.
  • Keyboard shortcuts are your friends! They save time compared to using the mouse for everything.
  • Be aware that copied text is stored in the clipboard temporarily. If you copy something else, the initial content will be replaced.
  • Some Linux applications have their own copy and paste features, so check the app’s documentation if the usual shortcuts don’t work.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use keyboard shortcuts to copy and paste in all Linux environments?

In most cases, yes, keyboard shortcuts like Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V will work across different Linux graphical environments. However, in certain applications or the terminal, the shortcuts may differ.

What’s the difference between copying in the GUI and the terminal?

In the GUI, you use the standard Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V for copying and pasting. In the terminal, you might need to add Shift to these combinations, or use the context menu with your mouse.

Can I copy and paste files in Linux?

Absolutely! You can copy and paste files in the file manager using the same keyboard shortcuts or by right-clicking and selecting the options from the context menu.

How can I paste text without formatting?

Some applications, like text editors, offer the option to paste text without formatting, often under a “Paste Special” or similar option in the menu.

What happens if I try to paste without copying anything first?

If you haven’t copied anything into the clipboard, the paste command won’t work. You need to have some text or content copied before you can paste.


  1. Select the text you want to copy.
  2. Press Ctrl+C to copy the text.
  3. Move your cursor to where you want to paste the text.
  4. Press Ctrl+V to paste the copied text.


Now that we’ve walked through the steps, copying and pasting in Linux shouldn’t be a mystery anymore. Whether it’s a few words, a couple of paragraphs, or even files, you now possess the knowledge to move text and data around with ease. Remember, the key to mastering this skill is practice; the more you use these shortcuts, the more natural they’ll become. So go ahead, give it a try, and see how much more productive you can be. And if you ever find yourself stuck, just come back to this guide for a quick refresher on how to copy and paste in Linux. Happy computing!