Copy and paste functionality on Android is pretty basic, just as it is on most operating systems. Cutting and copying single items for pasting once is fine, but cut or copy anything else and it’s gone forever.
That’s sufficient for some, but many of us want more. Let’s review how to copy and paste on Android, and check out the best ways to improve the functionality.
How to Copy and Paste on Android
Copying and pasting on Android is simple, but not always intuitive if you haven’t used an Android device before. Here’s how to do it if you’re new.
First, select some text. In most apps, like Chrome, you can do this by long-pressing on the text you want to copy.
Then, adjust the handles of the highlighted section to get just the words you want. You can also tap Select all if you want to copy all the text in an area.
Note that in some apps, like Twitter, those handles won’t appear. In that case, when long-pressing on a tweet, Twitter will automatically copy the whole tweet for you. This also works on addresses in Google Maps.
Finally, navigate to where you want to paste the text and long-press there, then select Paste. Alternatively, if you tap on the field where you want to paste the text, a small blue or black handle should appear. Tap on that to see the option to paste.
You’re now a copying and pasting pro! There are some special situations you should be wary of, however.
Useful Android Copy and Paste Tips
First off, anything you’ve copied will likely disappear if you turn off or restart your phone before pasting it. Thus, it’s best to paste the text quickly before you forget it’s there.
Also, if you copy one item and then try to copy a second before pasting the first, the first copied text will be erased. Android’s clipboard can only hold one bit of text at a time.
If you’re reading an article and there’s a link to another article that you want to copy, you could tap the link, long-press in the URL bar, and then copy the URL. But it’s faster to use the power user method: just long-press on the original link itself and select Copy link address.
And remember that you can only cut text if it’s in a text entry field. If the text is not editable—like in an article—you’ll only be able to copy it. But if you’re typing out a text message, you can cut the text that you’re typing and paste it elsewhere.
Where Is the Clipboard Folder in Android?
On stock Android, there’s no real way to access and view the clipboard folder. You only have the option of long-pressing in a text field and choosing Paste to see what’s on your clipboard. However, if you have a Samsung or other Android device, you can take advantage of manufacturer customizations to access your clipboard more easily.
On a Samsung device, for example, you’ll see a Clipboard bubble appear when you long-press on a text field. Tap it, and you can access the last several items you’ve copied. If you use the Samsung Keyboard, you can tap the Arrow on the top-right side to access additional functions. Tap Clipboard and you can access this same panel of recently copied items.
Devices from other manufacturers, such as LG, may have a similar functionality.
How Do I Clear the Clipboard History on Android?
Since stock Android only keeps the last item you’ve copied, you simply need to copy another bit of text to clear its one-item history. Once you do so, it erases whatever was copied before.
On Samsung or other Android skins, you’ll notice a Delete All button when you open their clipboard history. Tap that and confirm your decision to clear the clipboard history.
If you end up using one of the apps below, you can use their built-in functions to clear all your clipboard history.
How to Improve the Copy-Paste Function on Android
As we’ve seen, Android’s built-in copying and pasting functionality is super limited. Since the built-in clipboard isn’t accessible (you can’t reference what you’re pasting without actually pasting it), and it can’t hold more than one bit of text, you might want to look to third-party Android clipboards.
Thankfully, there are a couple solid apps you can use to improve upon the clipboard, giving you access to a host of new ways to move text around.
Clipper: The Quick and Fast Option
With Clipper, anything you copy will stay in the app. This allows you to have multiple bits of text copied at once, and you won’t lose anything if you accidentally copy something else.
And you can access your copied texts quickly by simply opening the app and tapping which text you want. Clipper will copy it to your built-in clipboard, and you can go paste it wherever you want. It’s dead simple and easy to use.
You can also just add quick phrases that you often need to type (like your email address) for easy access to them. You can even sort your notes by categories and use a persistent notification to reach the app in an instant.
Unfortunately, you also have to deal with a huge banner ad along the bottom. For full functionality you can buy Clipper Plus for $2. This allows you to save more than 20 clips, sync all your clips online, get rid of ads, and search your clips.
AnyCopy: The Safe and Secure Option
AnyCopy has one specialty in mind: security. It has a premium version for $2, but only a few features are hidden behind that paywall. They include changing the size of notes, changing the default save folder, and auto-sorting notes based on the app they were copied from.
The free version doesn’t have ads and is teeming with features. You can search through your notes, start the app through a persistent notification (or turn that off), set a PIN to lock the app, and set a password to lock particular folders. On top of all of that, your local notes are all encrypted. It’s definitely the safest app of the bunch.
It works like a charm. Copy anything, and you’ll later find it in AnyCopy, waiting for you to copy and paste it somewhere. It’s not the quickest solution, especially if you PIN-lock the app, but the extra security might be worth it.
Download: AnyCopy (Free with in-app purchase)
SwiftKey: A Great Keyboard With Clipboard Manager
If you don’t mind giving a new keyboard a try, SwiftKey is worth a look. It’s one of the best Android keyboards thanks to powerful predictions, but it packs many more features, like an integrated clipboard manager.
Just tap the Plus icon in the top-left corner of your keyboard, and you’ll see the Clipboard icon among others. Tap it to access blocks of text you’ve copied recently and paste them in with one tap. SwiftKey automatically removes text an hour after you copied it, but you can tap the Pin button to keep it for as long as you need.
Download: SwiftKey Keyboard (Free)
Copy and Paste on Android Like a Pro
Android’s built-in clipboard gets the job done, but these apps should be able to help if you want more. If having a clipboard manager changed your life, check out other Android apps that make life easier.
Also, if you have a Windows device, you can easily share your clipboard between your Android phone and Windows computer. If you choose to do so, you may want to familiarize yourself with the new Windows 10 clipboard.