Copy and Paste for the iPhone has finally arrived thanks to the release of the iPhone 3.0 OS, so now let’s learn how to use it. With all the anticipation leading up to its release you would think that people would be a little more excited. Copy and Paste was one of the major missing features and probably one of the number one complaints about the device before it arrived.
So now that it’s here the complaints about not having it have faded away, but where are all the detailed articles? All I see out there are a bunch of one liners basically just noting that it has arrived. So how do you use it? What makes it great? Was it worth the Wait? These are all questions that need answers – and I’m here to help.
First can I just say – finally!! Copy and paste so far has made my life just a little bit easier. Not only are Copy and Paste available, but Apple also through Cut, Select, Select All, Undo and Redo in there as well.
We have all used these options either on other devices or on a desktop computer before, but why does Apple’s version for the iPhone stand out? First clear reason is because of the User Interface. It’s easy to use and also looks extremely slick.
Cut, Copy and Paste can now be used in pretty much any application that a developer puts it in. One rule of thumb is that when you are able to get a magnifying glass, then you can Copy and Paste. But, Copy and Paste doesn’t only apply to text, it applies to images as well, which I will go over how to do later on in the post. Prior to the release of the iPhone 3.0 you only had the ability to copy images from web pages – but now you have many more options.
So let’s get started!
To get the Cut, Copy or Paste option to appear within an editable text document like Notes or in a text message, tap and hold a specific word within the page and the magnifying glass that allows the cursor to appear will pop up.
(Don’t let my notes from the iPhone Launch Party at WWDC distract you… It’s all already been reported.)
Quick Tip: Now any time you see the magnifier you should know that you will have Copy and Paste options.
Let go of the spot and the available options will automatically pop up. You will first be given the option to Select or Select All. Just a quick note – how awesome is it to have the option to Select All?! Sorry, just got a little excited.
Alright, so it’s pretty obvious that if you choose to Select All, everything on the page will be highlighted, but you also have the option to just Select. By clicking Select you can then expand your selection from a single word to an entire paragraph.
Quick Tip: To select you can also just double tap a word and drag to select more.
Now the next part becomes a little tricky. The option to Cut a selected portion will only become available if you have the keyboard visible.
If the keyboard is not visible then only options to Copy or Paste will be available. Paste will only appear if you have previously copied text, if you haven’t previously copied text than you will only have the option to Copy.
Pasting is easy. First copy a selection then hit Paste where you want it to be placed. You can also Paste over words by selecting a certain word and hitting Paste.
Human error is inevitable – so don’t freak out if you Paste some text in the wrong place. Another great newly added feature is that you can shake your phone and an Undo option will appear on your screen. How awesome is that?!
But, wait – what if you then decided that you did Paste correctly? No worries, just give your iPhone or iPod touch another shake and a Redo Paste option will appear.
We have seen how it works in Notes, but now let’s check out what it looks like in the Messages app. You can copy text that has already been sent and paste it.
You can also Select, Select All and Paste a selection. By hitting Select you will be given the option to Cut, Copy or Paste text that you are writing.
So how does Copy and Paste work within Safari? Pretty darn well actually. Doesn’t matter if you are zoomed in or zoomed out you can still copy text. If you are zoomed in you can get a bit more specific where you want to copy.
If you are zoomed out you can only select larger portions.
From here you can paste the text into an email, text or third party application that supports Copy and Paste.
So we have talked a lot about copying text, but like I said earlier you can now Copy and Paste images and videos (3GS only.) You can Paste images or video as MMS (when it’s supported,) or in an email – as well as any third party app that will support it.
Copying a photo is easy. Pick a photo and hold down on any particular spot and you will get the option to Copy.
Select Copy and then decide what you’re going to do with it. To send it as MMS open up the messages app and tap where you would like it to go and hit paste and then send it on its way.
To send a copied image in an email it’s just as easy. Open up your Mail app and do the same thing – select the point where you want it and hit paste.
Despite the seemingly perfection of Copy and Paste, there are some minor limitations. You’ll notice that when you are within the App Store or iTunes the functionality of Copy and Paste is not an option. So just keep in mind that it won’t work in the same places that it wouldn’t work on your computer. So just remember, if you don’t have a text loop – you can’t Copy.
Now that you know how to use Copy and Paste on the iPhone, get out there and start using it!
Update: One other limitation is that you can’t copy a contact’s phone number and paste it into a text message. You do have the option to share a contact but that is only through MMS or email.
Also I would like to thank Fcd for the comment which notes that you can copy a number from your calendar, but you can’t paste it into the phone app to make a call. One way around that limitation is to create a new contact and you can paste it there. I would also like to note that creating a new contact is the only place in the phone app where Copy and Paste are available.