How to cut, copy, and paste on Android phones

Cutting, copying, and pasting are actions that are regularly performed in apps and between apps: getting an address from a message into a map, moving an image from an email to a document, or just transferring text from one end of a note to another. But while I’ve known how to cut, copy, and paste on a laptop or desktop computer for, well, forever, I wasn’t quite as sure at first how to do it on my Android phone.

In fact, cutting, copying, sharing, or pasting on Android is pretty straightforward — no matter which app you’re in or what you’re trying to move around. Here’s how to do it.

Note: I’ve tested these techniques on a Google Pixel 8 running Android 14 and a Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 running Android 14 and One UI 6.0.

Selecting, copying, and sharing text

When you highlight a section of text, a small bar of options will pop up above your selection.

When you copy or cut text, you’ll see it above your Gboard keyboard.

The process for selecting text on the screen, whether it’s editable text (as in a form) or non-editable text (like on a webpage), is the same in most scenarios:

  • Press and hold on a word until it’s selected.
  • Drag the handles at each end of the selection if you want to include more words.
  • Tap Select all on the pop-up bar above the selection to select all the text in the section.

In some apps (such as Google Keep), you can also double-tap on a word to select it, rather than tapping and holding. You might find this easier if the app you’re using supports it. (Gmail, for example, does not.)

However you do it, once you select your text, you’ll get a list of options that appear above the selection.

  • Tap Copy to copy the text to the keyboard, leaving the original text in place.
  • Tap Cut to move the text to the clipboard, removing the original text. (You can only do this in a field or form where text is editable.)

Android actually has a neat trick where if there’s text on the clipboard when you pull up the on-screen keyboard, you’ll see that text ready to paste just above the keys — just tap the text to paste it at the current cursor position. (This works on Google’s default Gboard keyboard, the Samsung Keyboard, and it might work on other keyboard apps as well.)

  • To paste the text, press and hold your finger on the spot you want to drop the text in, then choose Paste from the pop-up menu when it appears.
  • Tap Share to send the text directly into another app — for example, to copy an address from a website and paste it into a message to someone on WhatsApp.

There is another option if you’re moving text within a document: with the text selected, long-press somewhere in the selection, then drag it to its new location. This works in the same way as going via the clipboard and the Cut and Paste options.

You will notice some variations in different apps — for example, in Chrome, where if you press on the current site URL, you’ll get a copy icon that you can select, not a pop-up bar. In general, though, use a long press to select and copy and a long press to paste.

Selecting, copying, and pasting images

Image copying is simple in Chrome — just press and hold to get a pop-up menu.

In Google Photos, there’s no copy option; you have to share the photo.

Working with images is a lot more dependent on the app you’re using, in my experience, but a long press is a good place to start. In Google Chrome, for example, press and hold on an image, and you’ll see a pop-up dialog with a Copy image option on it.

It’s not quite this simple in every other app. If you’re looking at an image in Google Keep, you need to tap on it to make it full screen, then tap the three dots (top right), then choose Copy. In Google Docs, you just need a single short tap to bring up the Copy option.

Pasting is very simple, no matter which app you’re in.

  • As with text, long-press on the spot where you want the image to be inserted.
  • Pick Paste from the pop-up bar that appears.

This is assuming you can paste at all. In Google Photos, which may well be where you’re sharing most images from, there’s no copy feature at all, strangely enough. In this app:

  • Tap on a photo to make it full screen.
  • Tap Share to bring up the sharing options.
  • You can now send the image directly to any other app on your phone by selecting the app, but you can’t copy and paste it.

It’s the same story in quite a few other apps, including WhatsApp and Google Messages. You can’t access copy and cut options there, only the standard share option.

While the image copying and pasting process is rather inconsistent between apps — and at times not available at all — you should be able to get your pictures from one place to another without too much difficulty.

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