Copy Text with the iPad

Deceptively Simple

Copying text is pretty simple on a regular computer – just click, drag, Ctrl+C! The iPad, however, had continually frustrated my efforts with its tendency to highlight entire paragraphs when I just wanted a sentence or two, leaving me to delete several lines of text. But then I discovered a simple technique that for some reason never came up in any of my searches.

Keep in mind that this works in Chrome and Safari, but your mileage will vary in other apps (like the Kindle App).

Step 1: Select One Word

First, press your fingertip against the first word in the chain you want to copy. This will select the word, turning it blue, and you should notice a blue circle at its top left and bottom right. For my example, I have chosen President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, copied from Wikipedia.

Gettysburg Address via Wikipedia.org

Step 2: Drag The Circles

Now, press your fingertip onto the bottom right circle and drag your finger over the rest of the text you want to copy. If it’s a big block, you can move your finger straight down, as the selection will follow the text just like it would with a mouse. When you lift your finger off the screen, the text should still be highlighted.

Gettysburg Address with text selected

If you find that you selected the wrong first word, you can likewise drag the top left circle and move the selection to the left to grab that sneaky word.

Always Grab the Blue Circles to Extend Your Selection

Step 3: Copy

This varies a little depending on the browser you’re using. In Safari, a simple Command+C will copy the text (assuming you’re using a keyboard and not the touchscreen). Chrome seems a bit finicky about using a keyboard, so it’s best to tap on one of the blue circles to bring up a menu (similar to the right-click menus in Windows). Tap “Copy” and you’re good to go.

Step 4: Paste

When you’ve copied the text, switch apps (or tabs, if it’s meant for something browser-based) and use Command+V if you’re using a physical keyboard. If you’re using the touchscreen, or if the App in question doesn’t see to like taking orders from a keyboard, press and hold your finger for a few seconds (or double-tap with your finger) on the space where you want to paste. A little “Paste” button should pop up: select it and the text should paste. Now you can format it, blockquote it, or just celebrate a job well done.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

If you are among the “fat-fingered” variety of people like I am, you may find this process has a bit of a learning curve. Keep at it! Practice it and be patient with both your device and yourself. It will get easier – within a few days of discovering this method, I had mastered it and haven’t lost a selection since.

If you stumble upon any time-saving tips like this, email me: editor[at]iPad4Life.net .

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One thought on “Copy Text with the iPad

  1. Pingback: Utilizing Your iPad for Productivity in 5 Steps | iPad For Life

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