It may sound like we've stepped back to Computers 101, but copy and pasting in Linux can sometimes be a bit different than it is in either Windows or Mac. The good news is that it is most often far easier to copy and paste in Linux than it is in any other operating system. How can such a basic function be any easier? Read on to find out.
The typical action of cutting and pasting does and should (in most cases) work across applications as well as into the command line. The trick is knowing either the key combinations or the correct mouse buttons. So whether your copying and pasting from one document to another, from document to email (or vice versa), or just about any application to any application Linux can copy and paste. Let's find out just how.
This is the big one that makes your copy/paste life very simple. With the Linux operating system there are three mouse buttons: 1, 2, 3. The left mouse button is button 1, the right mouse button is button 2, and the mouse wheel is button 3. If your mouse doesn't have a mouse wheel then pressing both 1 and 2 together is the equivalent of button 3. Now that we have that out of the way I am going to show you a nice trick. Go to a document (OpenOffice, Abiword, or even compose an email). Highlight some text by clicking button 1 and dragging the mouse over the text you want to highlight (simple text selection). Once you have selected your text click your cursor in a blank area of the document and click button 3. What you should see is the selected text is pasted where you clicked with button 3. So the action of highlighting text with button 1 is copying and clicking with button 3 is pasting. How simple is that? This action also works from document to command line and vice versa.
Naturally the standard keyboard key combinations will work for copying and pasting. There are a couple of exceptions. When copying within (or to and from) some terminal windows there are different key combinations to use. For example, in gnome-terminal instead of Ctrl-c and Ctrl-v (for copy and paste) you use Ctrl-shift-c and Ctrl-shift-v for copying and pasting. This can be changed within the profile editor in gnome-terminal (if you want this feature to echo the standard combination.) Be aware, however, that if you copy text by selecting via the left mouse you can not paste by using Ctrl-v. The Ctrl-v combination (or Ctrl-Shift-v combination) only works in conjunction with the Ctrl-c or Ctrl-Shift-c combinations.
As you can imagine nearly every Linux GUI application has an Edit menu that includes the Copy/Paste entries. These work exactly as you would expect. These menu entries also work in conjunction with the Ctrl-c/v combinations, but not the button 1 highlight action (button 1 copy action only works with the button 3 paste action).
I will warn you that once you get used to the button1/3 copy/paste action you will find yourself attempting it in all other operating systems. This method of copy/paste is the easiest means of copying and pasting content bar none. It is nice, however, that the various Linux distributions include other means for those users who prefer the standard methods.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.