Moving Data Between Documents

You can’t paste a picture into your web browser, and you can’t paste MIDI music information into your word processor. But you can put graphics into TextEdit, paste movies into your database, insert text into Photoshop, and combine a surprising variety of seemingly dissimilar kinds of data.

Cut, Copy, and Paste

The original copy-and-paste procedure of 1984—putting a graphic into a word processor—has come a long way. Most experienced Mac fans have learned to trigger the Cut, Copy, and Paste commands from the keyboard, quickly and without even thinking. Here’s how the process works:

  1. Highlight some material in a document.

    Drag through some text in a word processor, for example, or highlight graphic, music, movie\, database, or spreadsheet information, depending on the program you’re using.

  2. Use the EditCut or EditCopy command.

    Or press the keyboard shortcuts ⌘-X (for Cut—think of the X as a pair of scissors) or ⌘-C (for Copy). The Macintosh memorizes the highlighted material, socking it away on an invisible storage pad called the Clipboard. If you chose Copy, nothing visible happens. If you chose Cut, the highlighted material disappears from the original document.

    At this point, most Mac fans take it on faith that the Cut or Copy command actually worked. But if you’re in doubt, switch to the Finder (by clicking its Dock icon, for example), and then choose Edit→Show Clipboard. The Clipboard window appears, showing whatever you’ve copied.

  3. Click to indicate where ...

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