Copying and Pasting without Affecting the Clipboard

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated January 9, 2021)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


Gary loves the Clipboard. In his job he creates many documents with the same information, so the Clipboard allows him to copy text and then paste it into a new document. There are times when Gary, though, wants to keep the text he currently has in the Clipboard with adding any more text when he copies something additional. Gary wonders if there is a way to copy and paste without affecting what is already in the Clipboard.

Actually, there are a number of different ways you can get around the Clipboard; I'll discuss five of them in this tip. Perhaps the easiest way is to rely on the specialized function keys that Word provides for moving or copying text. If you want to copy text, follow these steps:

  1. Select the text you want to copy.
  2. Press Shift+F2. The message Copy to where? appears in the status bar.
  3. Move the insertion point to where you want the copy pasted.
  4. Press Enter.

That's it; the text is copied and whatever you have in the Clipboard remains unaffected. If you want to move the text, the only change is that you would use F2 in step 2.

A different way to do this relies on the addition of the mouse. Follow these steps, instead:

  1. Select the text you want to copy.
  2. Locate in your document where you want to copy the text—just make sure you can see it on the screen.
  3. Hold Shift+Ctrl as you right-click on the target location.

Again, the text is copied and whatever you have in the Clipboard remains unaffected. To move the text instead of just copying, just press Ctrl in step 3 instead of Shift+Ctrl.

A third technique you can use is to rely on the Office Clipboard. This is an expanded version of the Clipboard that is available by displaying the Home tab of the ribbon and clicking the small icon at the bottom-right of the Clipboard group. Doing so displays the Clipboard pane at the left side of the screen. The pane shows the last several items added to the Clipboard. This means that even if you press Ctrl+C or Ctrl+X, you don't really wipe out what was previously on the Clipboard—it is accessible through the Clipboard pane.

You should note that anything you copied or moved using the first two suggestions in this tip does not show up in the Clipboard pane, as those techniques bypass the Clipboard entirely. If you want to understand more about the Office Clipboard, you might find this tip to be helpful.

The fourth approach is to rely on what is essentially the Windows version of the Office Clipboard. This expanded keyboard was added to Windows 10, so if you have an older version of Windows, you can't use this approach. You can pull up the Windows Clipboard by pressing Win+V. If you have the Office Clipboard pane visible on the screen, when you press Win+V, you'll note that the contents of the two are very similar. The difference is that the Windows Clipboard is available anywhere in Windows, while the Office Clipboard is, as the name implies, available only in Office.

Finally, one approach that many people are not aware of is to rely on the Spike, which is different than the Clipboard. You can find more information about the Spike in this tip.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9956) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is 4 - 1?

2021-01-11 09:57:00

Richard Curtis

Well that was an education! I never knew there were so many options for Copy/Move.

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