1.4 Using Your Computer Clipboard

Your computer has a hidden clipboard even if it does not have a word processor installed on it and even if you are only editing an unformatted text only document. Your computer clipboard is a hidden tool used to select, copy, move and paste text and images. Being able to select, copy, move and paste text is one of the most basic word processing skills. These commands can be used to move text from one part of a document to another part in the same document. They can also be used to move or copy information between documents.

Your computer clipboard is a hidden memory device that is independent of the programs you are using to edit documents. Therefore you can copy text from a page on a web browser into a document you have opened even without a word processing program.

Exercise: My First Document
If you have a computer, open it and open your file manager. Click create a new file or a new document. The type of document does not matter. Name the document My First Document. Then right click on the document and select Open with Notepad (or whatever text editor comes with your computer). Type: This is my first sentence.


Then left click and slide to select the sentence. Then right click and click Copy to put the first sentence in your computer clipboard.


Then press Enter on your keyboard.


Then right click and click Paste.

Repeat this a couple of times.


Now left click to select all four lines. Then right click and click Cut.

All four lines should disappear. Then right click and click Paste. All four lines should re-appear. This is because the command Cut places elements in your clip board just like the command Copy.

Now left click to select one of the lines and right click to delete this line. This will leave three lines. Then right click and click Paste. You should now have seven lines of text. This is because the command Delete does not put anything in your clipboard. And your clipboard will always keep the last item you put in it until you replace it with another item.

If you have a web browser and access to the Internet, go online and find a web page. Search for local news. Left click and slide on a sentence. Then right click and select copy. Then go back to your document. Left click to place your cursor at the bottom of the document. Then right click and click Paste.

Go back to your web browser and back to the initial search page and click on More. Then click Images. Left click on an image to select it. Then right click and click Copy Image. Then left click on your document to place the cursor and right click and click Paste. Sadly, you cannot paste an image into a text only document. Click File Save. Then file close.

If you have a word processor, go to your file manager and create a new document with the word processor. Then right click on the document in the word processor and click Paste. The image was still in your clipboard so you could paste it with the Word Processor. Save and close this document by clicking File Save and File Close. Also close your word processor, your file manager and your web browser.

Lessons Learned
You can copy and paste images from web pages or from other documents. Simply left click on the image or text to select it. Then right click on the image or text and click COPY to place the image or text in your computers clipboard. Then place your cursor at the point in your document where you want to place the new image or text. Then right click and click PASTE. This method works with Word Processors but not Text Editors.

To move text, instead of duplicating it, on the right click, select the CUT option instead of the COPY option. It is a good idea to practice selecting, copying or cutting and then pasting text within and between documents.

What is in your Clipboard?
Your computers Clipboard holds one item at a time. Whatever you cut or copy to the Clipboard will remain there until you cut or copy something else. This means you can Cut an item to the Clipboard and then Paste it multiple times. It is important to note that you must use the Cut or Copy commands to place text on the Clipboard. If you highlight some text and press Delete or Backspace to delete it, the text will not be placed on the Clipboard, it will simply disappear.

How to Prevent your Text from Disappearing
One of the most common beginner mistakes is to a large section of text and then accidentally press the wrong button on their key board. if you have text selected in your document, typing anything on the keyboard will replace the selected text – causing the selected text to disappear. For instance, say you select the first paragraph in your document, planning to move it down below the second paragraph. Before you get a chance to do that, you accidentally tap the Space bar. Your first paragraph will disappear, replaced by a single space. To get the text to reappear, just click the Undo icon or choose Edit, Undo from the menu. But to prevent text from disappearing, it is important to not accidentally hit any keys on your keyboard while a section of text is selected.

When to Use Control Plus C and Control Plus V instead of Copy and Paste
You may notice when copying text or images from some web pages that the Copy and Paste functions do not work. This is especially true when using Google Docs. The solution is to select the text or image. Then press the Control Key and the C key on your keyboard at the same time.


This will place the image or selected text into your clipboard. Then place your cursor where you want the text or image to go in your document and press Control plus V on your keyboard. This will paste the text or image into your document.


Key Point


Select Before Formatting: Formatting means changing the appearance of selected text. The first step in formatting text or an image is selecting the text you want to format. Decide which text or image you want to change, select it, then apply the formatting tool.


Security Alert… Danger of Copying and Pasting Text or Images
If you are using a Windows computer, you must be very careful about copying and pasting or downloading text or images from web pages or other documents emailed or otherwise shared with you by your friends. Formatted text can contain malware in the styles or fonts. Images can contain malware in the meta-data of the image.

Even if you are not using a Windows computer, directly copying and pasting text from other sources can import styles to your document that may alter the appearance of your document in unexpected ways.

One of the easiest solutions to text pasting problems is to get in the habit of always choosing the “Paste without formatting” option rather than the standard Paste option when pasting text into your document. Here is what the MS Windows Paste without formatting right click screen looks like. Always choose the third option:


Here is what the Google Docs Paste or Paste without formatting menu screen looks like:


Here is the Libre Writer right click Paste without formatting screen. Go to Paste Special. Then click Unformatted Text:


Note that if you are copying and pasting a lot of text that includes some images or tables or lists, the images or tables or lists might not be pasted along with the unformatted text. They will need to be copied and pasted separately as discussed below.

Copying and Pasting Images with MS Windows
Reducing the chances of importing an image contaminated with Windows malware is a more difficult challenge. The only real secure solution is to reflash your laptop to use the Linux operating system and then set up the Windows operating system in a virtual machine for whenever you want or need to use it. See our course on both of these processes: https://learnlinuxandlibreoffice.org/

If you want to continue to use the Windows operating system, then you should add a graphics program that strips all meta data from all images. Load the images in a separate folder. Strip the meta data. Then copy and paste the clean image to your document. We discuss this process in greater detail in the following course: https://createandpublishyourownbook.com/


What’s Next?

We will review Page Layout Style formatting in Chapter 3. But before that, in Chapter 2 we will compare the three most common Word Processing programs to see how they are similar as well as how they are different.