Saturday, September 24, 2011

Tools I Use Every Day: Copy & Paste

There are a specific set of tools I use every day when maintaining Cyndi's List and I couldn't get by without them. I thought I might share them here with you in an ongoing series of blog posts. These tools make my work faster and easier, and they should do the same for you.

We're starting with the basics today. The first tool is the good old "copy & paste" (C&P) function. This is one of the most basic computer functions we should all know and use on a daily basis. There are probably a lot of people out there who think that it is silly for me to bring this one up because everyone must already use C&P. So, why bother mentioning it? Because I still know a large number of people who don't know how to C&P. And some people don't realize you can C&P between different applications. For example, you can copy from a web browser and paste into a Word document or into an e-mail. I rarely retype anything. If I can copy it and paste it, I do it. I do this for web addresses – some are short and simple, but many these days are long and complicated. I use it for web site titles and descriptions. Anything that will save me time while building a new link.

To copy and paste you have to first highlight the text that you want to copy. Insert your cursor in front of the first character, hold down the mouse button and drag the cursor to the last character you want to copy. The text you want should now be highlighted.

To copy, Windows users can use any of the following commands:
  • Edit, Copy
  • Right-click, Copy (click the right mouse button)
  • Ctrl+C on the keyboard

To copy, Mac users can use any of the following commands:
  • Command+C (Apple/propeller key) on the keyboard
  • Right-click - hold down Command and the mouse button, Copy

The text you copied has been placed on a clipboard in the background. You can't see the clipboard. It is invisible. Trust me, it is there.

To paste, you need to place your cursor in the spot into which you want your text to be copied. For example, if you are copying something from a web page and into a Word document, you first need to open that Word document. Place your cursor in the Word document and paste.

To paste, Windows users can use any of the following commands:
  • Edit, Paste
  • Right-click, Paste (click the right mouse button)
  • Ctrl+V on the keyboard

To paste, Mac users can use any of the following commands:
  • Command+V (Apple/propeller key) on the keyboard
  • Right-click - hold down Command and the mouse button, Paste
There are numerous helps online. If you need more information search on Google for how to copy and paste

Now that I've explained how to C&P I should also tell you this - just because you can copy and paste doesn't always mean you should copy and paste. Please be sure to respect the work and the copyrights held by others. It is very easy to copy the research from someone else and paste it into your own. But, that work is the intellectual property of the author. You need their permission to use their work before you do so. If you are only using the information for your own personal research you can do so in small portions, especially if that information is not going to be published anywhere. That is a very brief disclaimer on copyright. For more information on copyright see: Cyndi's List - Copyright

Examples of when and where you might use C&P in your daily research:

  • research notes
  • web browser
  • e-mail
  • a word processor document
  • notes software such as Evernote
  • your genealogy software program


bgwiehle said...

A just heads-up for those that are novices in copy & paste:
If you've copied text from a formatted document, the formatting will probably be retained when pasted. How that looks depends on the 2nd application.
I have 3 main ways to deal with this:
- paste and clean up after,
- use the "paste special" menu option if available, to paste as plain text,
- paste into Notepad first to strip out text formatting.
Copy & paste is very useful.

Kathryn Doyle said...

What a great idea to share your knowledge of tools! This one is timely because I consider myself to be pretty technology-savvy and I had no idea of the power of C&P until recently. C&P doesn't just work with text. You can copy and paste a file name, icon or even an entire folder which makes it a great organizational tool. It is the easiest way to add files and folders to Dropbox and other cloud storage sites.

Solomon Valley Chronicles said...

One of the best "tools" I've come across is Clipomatic which is described as a clipboard cache program. Want to paste some text you copied previously but have copied other things since? Clipomatic remembers it! I have it set to remember the past 10 items I've copied. It is a HUGE time saver!!!