Copy and paste

Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides let you copy and paste text and images between all of your documents, spreadsheets, and presentations — even if you're going from one type of file to another. And if you copy an image from a desktop application on your computer, you can paste it right into your document, spreadsheet, or presentation. You can use keyboard shortcuts, the right-click menu, or the web clipboard menu to copy and paste in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides.

Keyboard shortcuts

For most copying and pasting, you can use the keyboard shortcuts Ctrl+C for Copy, Ctrl+X for Cut and Ctrl+V for Paste (Cmd+C, Cmd+X and Cmd+V on a Mac). This even works when going from one file type to another.

There are a couple of exceptions when keyboard shortcuts don't work as well. In these cases, you should use the web clipboard menu:

  • If you're copying between presentations and another file type
  • If you want to copy on one computer and paste on another
  • If you want to copy something you aren't going to paste right away
The right-click menu

For security reasons, most browsers don't allow web apps like Docs, Sheets, and Slides to use your computer's clipboard through menus.

However, if you use Chrome, you can give permission to access your clipboard by installing the Google Drive Chrome app. This allows you to use the right-click menu to copy and paste content (or select "Copy" or "Paste" from the Edit menu in the toolbar). To install the app, visit the Chrome Web Store.

The web clipboard tool

There are a few cases in which the best way to copy and paste is using the web clipboard tool. With the web clipboard tool, you can copy more than one selection and then choose which one to paste later; it also lets you copy something on one computer and then paste it on another.

  1. Select what you'd like to copy.
  2. Click the Edit menu and select Web clipboard.
  3. Click Copy selection to web clipboard.
  4. In the destination file, click the Edit menu and select Web clipboard again; you'll see the selection that you previously copied. If you copied multiple things, you'll see a list of the items you've recently copied.
  5. Place the cursor where you want to paste the content.
  6. Select Web clipboard from the Edit menu.
  7. Select what you want to paste. Depending on your selection, you'll see different formats that you can choose from to paste what you've copied (for example, HTML or plain text).
  8. Select a format.

Drawings

You can use the web clipboard to copy shapes from drawings and paste shapes into drawings embedded in Google spreadsheets, documents and presentations, or to copy and paste a drawing from a doc into the standalone drawing editor.

Click the Edit menu, select Web clipboard, and then select Copy shapes to web clipboard. Then, open the document that you want to paste the drawing into. Select Web clipboard from the Edit menu, and then select the drawing you want to paste from the menu.

Spreadsheets

Note that support for the web clipboard has been retired in the new version of Google Sheets, although it is still available for spreadsheets using the old version.

Presentations

You can't use the web clipboard to copy and paste regular text and images in Google Slides yet. You can select entire shapes on a single slide, and if the shape is a text shape, then the text will be copied to the server clipboard.

Charts

You can use the web clipboard to copy and paste charts from a spreadsheet into a document or drawing.

How content on the server clipboard is stored and protected

You can access the content copied to the server clipboard only by signing in to the same Google Account you used to copy the content originally.

Content you copy to the web clipboard is stored on Google's servers and remains there until 30 days have passed since you last took action on (for example, copied) a given content selection. Even if a document is deleted, anything you copied from that document to the server clipboard will still exist on Google's servers for that 30-day period. You can delete all items stored on the server clipboard by clicking the drop-down menu and selecting Clear all items.

Paste special in a spreadsheet

You also have the option of using paste special, which gives you more control over what properties you're copying and pasting into a range of cells. Paste special works only within a single spreadsheet. In other words, you can't copy cells from one spreadsheet and use paste special in a spreadsheet you have open in another tab.

  • Copy the data you want to paste.
  • Click the Edit menu.
  • Hover over "Paste Special."

Then, select from the following:

  • Paste values only: Pastes only the text contained in the original range of cells.
  • Paste format only: This option is identical to using the paint format tool -- it only copies cell formatting, and won't disrupt any existing text or formulas.
  • Paste all except borders: Pastes all of these options without any cell borders that have been added.
  • Paste formula only: Pastes the formulas contained in a copied range of cells, not the resulting calculations of the formulas.
  • Paste data validation only: Pastes a data validation rule over a range of cells without disrupting any existing formatting, formulas or text.
  • Paste conditional formatting only: This option only applies conditional formatting rules to a range of cells.
  • Paste transpose (in the new Google Sheets only): This option allows you to paste a rotated version of the copied cells. For example, if you copy a column of cells and use paste transpose, it will paste them into a row, and vice versa. 
Redo last action in a spreadsheet

You can repeat your last action in another section of your spreadsheet, as many times as necessary, by using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Y  (⌘ + Y on a Mac). You can save time using this shortcut for re-applying formatting or redoing an operation like inserting a row or column. Note that it doesn’t work with all actions that may be complex or need extra information, for example printing a spreadsheet or inserting a chart.

Note: This feature is only available in the new version of Google Sheets

Copy and paste images and charts

To copy an image in your spreadsheet to a document or presentation, follow these steps:

  1. Select what you'd like to copy.
  2. Click the Edit menu. 
  3. Click Copy.
  4. To paste the image, go to the document or presentation where you want the image, click the Edit menu, select Web clipboard, and choose the item you'd like to paste.

To copy a chart from your spreadsheet to a document, presentation, or spreadsheet created in the new Google Sheets, follow these steps:

  1. Select the chart.
  2. Press Ctrl + C on your keyboard or select Copy chart from the dropdown arrow in the top right corner of the chart.
  3. You can then paste the chart into another document, presentation, spreadsheet created using the new Google Sheets, or email by pressing Ctrl + V on your keyboard in Chrome or use the web clipboard for other browsers.
When copying charts inside the same spreadsheet, the original data is used, so updating any data updates the chart. When copying between spreadsheets, a copy of the data is used, so no data is linked and updating the original data does not affect the chart. Charts pasted in documents or presentations are added as images and as a result, aren't updated with changes to data and aren't interactive.
Copy and paste slides within a presentation

Here’s how to copy slides within a presentation:

  1. Open the presentation.
  2. From the list of slides on the left, select the slide you'd like to copy. You can press Shift to select a sequence of slides, or press Ctrl to select multiple, non-sequential slides.
  3. Use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + C (Cmd + C on a Mac) to copy the selected slide(s).
  4. Use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + V (Cmd + V on a Mac) to paste the selected slide(s) within the presentation.

Related topics

Matt is a Docs & Drive expert and author of this help page. Leave him feedback below about the page.

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