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Dealing with the Unix Copy and Paste Paradigm?

Cliff posted more than 10 years ago | from the it-works-well-enough-once-you-learn-how-to-use-it dept.

GUI 1125

MolecularBear asks: "I grew up on Windows machines, using the ol' ctrl-c to copy and ctrl-v to paste. For the past few years I've been a hardcore Linux user, running it almost exclusively at home and at work. As I am sure you are all aware, highlighting text in Linux automatically performs a copy while the middle mouse button performs a paste. The Ctrl-c, Ctrl-v standard works in many applications, but not all. Lately I have begun to find the automatic highlight-copy to be annoying. As in, I'll highlight text to copy it, then realize I want to highlight a block of text for the purpose of deleting it. Of course, the second highlighting overwrites the first highlighting. I am curious about how other people accomplish their copy/paste needs. Any special setups, applications, or words of wisdom?"

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Common problem.. (5, Insightful)

SeanTobin (138474) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318505)

..but I don't have a solution either :)

What annoys me the most is when copying/pasteing URL's. I'll highlight&copy a url somewhere then I go and paste it into firefox. Out of habbit I'll go and highlight the current URL and control+v what I assume I'm pasteing... and end up with the same URL that I started with.

Whats more interesting is that sometimes what control+v pastes is different from what the middle-click pastes. I'm sure there is a reason, and I'm also sure its my fault for not knowing it... but its still annoying..

What I've come to do is to copy a link via control+c or highlighting then opening a new tab in firefox. I have firefox to open new tabs to blank URL's and then I just middle click or control+v the URL.

Its a partial and flawed solution to a small part of your problem. Of course, this is Slashdot ;)

Pasting urls (5, Informative)

grahamsz (150076) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318524)

I usually find you can just pick up the url by selecting it, then middle button drop it into the browser. That seems to work on konq, netscape, mozilla and firefox on both linux and solaris.

But i do feel your pain :)

Firefox and Konqueror should have a button for "Open the clipboard in a new tab".

Re:Pasting urls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9318581)

...firefox DOES. setup mouse gestures, and use the new tab gesture (up by default). if your clipboard has a URL in it, the new tab will go there, otherwise, it'll go to your homepage

Re:Pasting urls (4, Informative)

divirg (695027) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318609)

There's a plugin for Firefox that puts a button next to the URL field to clear it when you're about to paste. Don't remember what it's called - check the Firefox plugins page on

Doesn't help the general problem though...

Re:Common problem.. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9318538)


Re:Common problem.. (5, Informative)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318561)

Whats more interesting is that sometimes what control+v pastes is different from what the middle-click pastes.

Yeah, there's basically two clipboards. The one when you just highlight something, and the one where you click "copy" in the menu.

The confusion comes when bugs in some programs confuse the two (or only implement one of them .. cough xchat cough). It's extremely hard to convince egotistical programmers that their clipboard behaviour is actually wrong and confusing to users.

Re:Common problem.. (4, Insightful)

Coneasfast (690509) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318573)

i think the problem is many toolkits/programs combine the primary/secondary 'clipboard' buffer.

IIRC, what should happen is the primary selection (ctrl-c/ctrl-v) should be seperate from secondary selection (select text, then middle click)

Re:Common problem.. (3, Informative)

nachoman (87476) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318584)

The difference between the select/middle-click paste and the Control-C/Control-V paste is because they each use different Clipboards. For instance if you are using KDE, The Control-C will copy to the KDE clipboard and the select with mouse will copy to the X-Windows clipboard.

I think the reason for the two different Clipboards is because the KDE (Or gnome? Not sure if it works the same way) clipboard handles copying content other than plain text and the X-Windows one not.

Re:Common problem.. (4, Informative)

Klerck (213193) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318592)

You can press ctrl+l in firefox and it will take you to the address bar while simultaneously highlighting it. Since you didn't manually highlight it, it doesn't copy into the paste buffer, and you're free to paste the other URL you had in the buffer into the address bar.

Re:Common problem.. (1)

nizo (81281) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318616)

Ahh, but that is what Control-t (new tab) in mozilla/firefox is for :-) Nice new blank tab with no URL.

Another Annoying Linux-Ism (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9318623)

Is when you have to telnet from Linux to Solaris boxes and the keys are all fucked up. If you have enough Solaris and Linux boxes in your network, you'll go crazy having to use CTRL-H on some and backspace on others.

Re:Common problem.. (1)

Random Web Developer (776291) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318660)

not contradicting the problem (eg for the google search box in firefox i have no solution) but if you open a new tab (ctrl t) the url box is blank and you can paste by middle clicking.

Re:Common problem.. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9318661)

I'll copy from my bookmarks URL with the solution for your problem:

Ops, sorry. Wrong paste.

control+u (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9318662)

My technique for doing this is to highlight the URL I wish to copy, left click in the browser's URL window, control+u to erase the pre-existing URL, then middle-click to copy in the highlighted URL.
Very quick, and makes sense if you're used to using *nix terminals.

Training and repetition (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9318522)

The only way to deal with this -different- paradigm is to get used to it. Do it several times. Cope - Linux is different. Eventually you'll realize that the way you've grown up with is limiting and the way you're learning is superior.

Come to the light side.

Re:Training and repetition (1)

o0zi (652605) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318551)

Copy and paste using highlight and middle-click works in every X application, but nowadays other methods are usually available. If you use a desktop environment such as KDE or Gnome, everything should be sorted for you, thanks to their desktop environment capabilities. Just switch to a fully-fledged desktop environment.

Re:Training and repetition (1)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318671)

Copy and paste using highlight and middle-click works in every X application

Hmmm. Not true. Just not true. There are plenty of clipboards on X-Windows, only the apps that use "PRIMARY" act that way, not the other. Java apps for example use the clipboard "CLIPBOARD", and middle click does nothing. There are plenty of other apps that works that way, I am just too lazy to look them up.

Re:Training and repetition (1)

kpansky (577361) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318576)

That would work great, if it weren't for subconcious actions. I am one of those weird people who highlight things they are reading almost compulsively -- not as I read along, but sentence at a time. It is really frustrating to copy something, do some reading, and suddenly find you're pasting 3 lines of text into your browser's address bar.

Re:Training and repetition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9318675)

Then don't do that.

Re:Training and repetition (1)

phosphorous (545719) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318628)

You sound like the timecube [] guy :)

Re:Training and repetition (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318631)

Here's a way to make the behavior optional...But I don't know that it's ever been implemented:

Make copies go into one buffer, and pastes come from another. When a Ctrl-C is detected, via XInput or whatever, copy the "copy" buffer into the "paste" buffer.

Re:Training and repetition (4, Interesting)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318644)

The fact that copy/paste is buggy or sluggish under X-Windows has a simple reason: There are tons of SDKs for X-Windows, almost all of them using a separate clipboard implementation/mechanism.

Saying that you deal with a technical problem by getting used to it, is saying that technology will fail to address the problem. As you say, "Linux is different" (almost true, since it has almost nothing to do with Linux, but rather with X-Windows). I would rather say:

X-Windows clipboard management sucks. If you want to use Linux on the desktop, you'll have to get used to it.

The lack of a decent standard allow everyone to do everything. And they do. And we are left with a huge app base for X, with very high UI fragmentation. Hence, what you learn to do with one app is different with another one.

Annoying, but that's the way X is.

YOU ALL SUCK! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9318523)

I want to see some new original TROLLS!

one simple solution. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9318526)

Give up and go back to windows!

Your proiblem... (4, Insightful)

nother_nix_hacker (596961) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318529) the lack of a standard toolkit. Keep an eye on I only really work in terminal appart from web browsing. When I copy a url from a term I have to remember to have left the URL bar in firefox bare. Otherwise I end up selecting it to delete the text in there.... you see whats happening anyway :)

Re:Your proiblem... (3, Informative)

Psiren (6145) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318590)

You can just click the middle button anywhere on the page. It'll do a paste of the buffer and load the url in it. You don't have to paste it into the url bar. Once you've done it a few times it makes life a lot easier. It's a far larger target to paste into. Just be careful not to click when you're hovering over a link.

Re:Your proiblem... (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318618)

Make a button on the toolbar, the "new tab" button. Put it right next to the URL bar (where it should be by default anyway). When you want to paste, get in the habit of opening a clean tab first.

Minor solution - Ctrl-K (5, Informative)

jmdjmd (727273) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318530)

Just a small shortcut - Ctrl-K will (should!) erase the rest of the line, no need for highlighting it. Works wonders for clearing the URL bar :-).

Re:Minor solution - Ctrl-K (1)

dijjnn (227302) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318572)

also, Ctrl-A takes you to the beginning of a line, Ctrl-E to the end. not not as relevant to cut & paste, but handy time savers over the arrow keys.

Re:Minor solution - Ctrl-K (1)

Nightreaver (695006) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318607)

Your right, but in many applications the ctrl+k command actually also copies the text, and then we are back to square one :(

Re:Minor solution - Ctrl-K (3, Informative)

Xzzy (111297) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318691)

control-u blasts all of it. I know I've seen this convention somewhere I just can't place it. ;)

Many of the bash control sequences do the same thing in web browsers. In most text editing situations, really.

in soviet russia (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9318532)

the copy pastes you...

I wish! (2, Insightful)

NerveGas (168686) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318537)

highlighting text in Linux automatically performs a copy while the middle mouse button performs a paste

I wish. That's the behavior that I prefer. In the past half-year, I've tried about four different distributions, and none of them have had that as the default behavior. It seems like they're intentionally trying to become like Windows.


Re:I wish! (1)

Stealth Potato (619366) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318605)

Everbody's different, of course, but my take on this is that the operation of selection should be just that: selection. It's like aiming a gun at something; once you've designated a target, you have to press Ctrl+C, er, I mean, pull the trigger in order to fire. Would you want your gun to go off every time you pointed it at something?

Re:I wish! (4, Insightful)

riffraff (894) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318689)

Exactly. That's why I stopped using galeon for my browser, and went back to mozilla. I like the 'standard' emacs keyboard bindings, but the programmers of galeon decided that the windows key bindings were much better (or less confusing to new linux users, whatever) than the previous behavior. The problem is that the new users have no problem using, but now the rest of us have to remember two different bindings, depending on which application we use.

Linux is not Windows. Stop trying to make it as such.

emacs. (0, Troll)

dijjnn (227302) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318539)


it's called, "paste in emacs first if neccessary"

it's a pretty advanced system, seems to work on most distros i've worked with out of the box.

I'm sorry, i think this article is fluff as far as "ask slashdot" goes. yesterdays girl vs. gaming discussion was more interesting.

Re:emacs. (1)

MoneyT (548795) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318624)

So we need a third application in the mix now?

And this is better because.........

I am against the X11 copy/paste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9318540)

I personally hope that there is a copy/paste that works among ALL applications and that there is no X11-kind of copy. While handy, it is also the source of problems and very bad usability-wise.

Must be.... (0, Offtopic)

flea69 (667238) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318542)

a really, really slow news day.

Terminals are a problem for me (1)

TehHustler (709893) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318546)

I am going to have to configure putty to paste on middle mouse button, because sometimes I'll have lots of text in the clipboard, and miss while right clicking on something else.

Which is embarrassing sometimes, depending on the contents of the aforementioned clipboard.

Re:Terminals are a problem for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9318588)

How many times have I told you, we don't want to read your cyber logs. I mean really, "TheHustler rams Bob in the ass" is only amusing to a point.

Re:Terminals are a problem for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9318659)

> Which is embarrassing sometimes, depending on the contents of the aforementioned clipboard

Looking for underage hookers again?
Where do you find them?

This is a usability problem... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9318549)

Whew, glad to see I'm not the only one .. the whole "click middle button to
paste" thing drives me NUTS.

I started computer life as a Mac user. I think one button is the simplest and
most elegant way to design a mouse. I think mod-C and mod-V is the easiest way
to cut & paste (one hand on keyboard, one on mouse). I also have big hands and
fumbling fingers. I very often paste garbage into Mutt or other programs (for
instance, extremely critical SSH sessions to production machines) in my
Konsole windows. Hold breath, wait 2 seconds for the beeping to stop, paste
text into another window and try to figure out if I just emailed porn to the
client or sent /boot/kernel-2.4.25 to the printer.

I even whipped out the soldering iron and replaced the Omron tactile switches
in my trackball with the stiffest they had a digikey. It did help a little.

And I also have dealt with the slight confusion that results after I highlight
something, whip over to another window, and realize that I have to select
everything to delete it first, which trashes the selection. Thankfully,
Control-C/V works in the programs that I usually do this with.

I bet most people don't even realize that X11 actually has more than one
"clipboard". Did you? There is nothing in the interface that suggests I should
have a mental model of multiple selection areas. Only after learning about
Vim's keystrokes for accessing the various buffers did I realize what was
going on.

I just wish I could permanently and completely switch off this "feature" of
X11, in all programs. I'm not stupid, I've been using X11 nearly daily since
1990, and I've been screwing it up since then. Apparently just bringing this
up in public is enough to condemn a person to flames, but there it is.

Dear X11: please join the rest of the world and shed at least one of those
buttons. Get rid of multiple clipboards or whatever you call them. I don't
need it. My grandmother doesn't need it. Maybe some geeks have trained
themselves to need it, let them figure out how to turn it back on.

And while we're on the subject can we please standardize Control-C vs. ALT-C,

(And yes I wrote this in a terminal and selected/pasted it with the button.. because Control-C doesn't work in the terminal!)

What middle button? (4, Insightful)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318550)

Lately I have begun to find the automatic highlight-copy to be annoying. As in, I'll highlight text to copy it, then realize I want to highlight a block of text for the purpose of deleting it. Of course, the second highlighting overwrites the first highlighting. I am curious about how other people accomplish their copy/paste needs.

I used to run into the same problem, but you already know the solution: use ctrl-c and ctrl-v. If an application doesn't support them, scrap it. Just ignore your middle mouse button -- pretend it isn't there -- and you won't have this problem.

Re:What middle button? (1)

Animaether (411575) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318625)

Which doesn't address the 'problem' that even if you decide to dedicate yourself to ctrl+c for copying and ctrl+v for pasting, that selecting will automatically copy the selection and overwrite whatever was on your 'clipboard'.

Re:What middle button? (2, Informative)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318674)

If highlight clobbers something you copied with ctrl-c, then it's a bug in the program.

There are two clipboards, and highlighting should never clobber something you manually copied.

Middle button? (5, Funny)

1000101 (584896) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318553)

"... performs a copy while the middle mouse button performs a paste."

I use a Mac you insensitive clod!

Re:Middle button? (2, Funny)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318651)

So a Mac user can only paste?

Re:Middle button? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9318668)

What? Of course Macs have a middle button. In fact, they ONLY have a middle button.

Re:Middle button? (3, Funny)

zelurxunil (710061) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318673)

I use a Mac you insensitive clod!

My mac runs yellow dog linux with a three-button usb mouse, you insensitive clod!

Re:Middle button? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9318690)

So you DO have a middle button, just not a left and a right.

Emacs (0, Offtopic)

Yonkeltron (720465) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318555)

I believe using Emacs will solve this problem.

three words (0)

10am-bedtime (11106) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318556)

avoid. mouse. usage.

cue drool-and-twitch replies...

Re:three words (1)

Karamchand (607798) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318639)

oh yes, surfing usual websites using they keyboard is lots of fun, true.
Hey, got it? This guy was speaking about browsing the web :-)

I grew up on VMS (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9318557)

I keep hitting control-B to get previous commands, control-H to get to the beginning of the line, control-A to insert, control-E to get to the end of the line.

You think YOU have problems?!?! Think about poor poor pitiful me and my basement full of VAXen next time.

For single lines it's not too bad (1)

cheide (731641) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318558)

For something like a URL bar, most browsers I'm aware of will let you hit Alt-A to go to the start of the line and then Alt-K to delete the current URL, without destroying the current selection.

Any app more complex than that really should be providing their own copy/paste functionality. The automatic-copy-on-highlight only uses *one* of the X selection buffers...

Duh, correction... (1)

cheide (731641) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318643)

Ctrl-A and Ctrl-K, of course. I've got too much Alt on the brain at the office...

This is the correct behavior (1)

aussersterne (212916) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318559)

This is the way it's always been & this is the way most UNIX+X users prefer it: highlight=copy, middle-click=paste.


Or evolve ? (1)

Walrusss (750700) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318655)

or evolve ?

Isn't that what Darwin would have said ? ;-)

In this case, hard to say what's evolution or not...

Re:This is the correct behavior (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318678)

That works great except when you want to highlight something and paste over it with whats on the clipboard.

Oh boy (3, Informative)

John Starks (763249) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318564)

Soon Slashdot will be filled with the waring camps of "X is perfection" and "X is old, so it is bad."

In this case, I find that it's merely a matter of getting used to the way the X clipboard functions. For example, delete the old text AFTER you paste the new text. It's a different way of managing your clipboard, but it's not necessary any better; for most jobs, I find it to be MORE convenient, and I start to forget to Ctrl-C when I'm in Windows.

For more information on how X handles the clipboard/selection, see Jamie Zawinski's informative web page. []

It varies greatly by window manager (1)

Theatetus (521747) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318565)

The copy-paste inconsistencies are collateral damage from having various window managers to choose from. Gnome (which was originally intended as a sort of COM-for-Linux) was supposed to simplify and standardize object transfers through copy/paste, but A) it doesn't do it quite consistently with itself and B) it never caught on outside of Gnome projects.

GNUStep has a pretty good clipboard, and I hear KDE does too... one of the biggest problems is setting a standard set of keys that apps won't listen for so the window manager can use it to copy & paste (unless you just do a clipboard widget like GNUStep).

And what do you do for apps that have their own clipboard/kill ring? Do you make the top of the emacs kill ring equal the clipboard? And what happens if you have a clipboard that handles objects and not just text and the app being pasted to has no handler for that object type?

RPN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9318569)

Delete first, then copy and paste?

Complain! (5, Interesting)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318571)

The best thing you can do is to complain to the developers at, GNOME, and KDE (and whatever other desktop systems you know of). They need to hear this stuff, from many quarters, before they'll actually do anything about it. I think that is probably the best place to start, given that development-oriented nature of the fork.

As a slight correction, the copy-paste problem you describe isn't a Linux issue; it's an X Window System issue.

-1 Redundant (5, Informative)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318574)

It's always been broken.

And any mention of a possible solution brings down the wrath of nerds who want to keep unix as unintuitive and awkward as possible.

Besides the nuisance of what mouse click or keystroke you use to move text, it's not a clipboard like Windows uses, merely a text buffer.

Ie; it's only good for text. You cant copy/paste (and by extension drag and drop) files, bitmaps, etc uniformly between apps.

It's just another item in a laundry list of issues that are major to end users, but a low priority for hackers. Another speedbump on the road to Linux (unix) as a truly competitive desktop platform.

Ctrl-v Paradigm Shift (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9318578)

Actually, come to think of it...I have no idea what paradigm means.

KDE klipper... (4, Informative)

rsidd (6328) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318582)

has a menu of recently selected highlighted items. There should be a dock in the "system tray" panel item, looks like a clipboard with the "k" letter. Clicking on it has a history of recently copied (ie highlighted-with-mouse) items, you can select what you like to bring it to the top, then middle-button will paste that next time.

Or else, first paste what you want to insert, then delete what you want to remove...

Let's boot XFree86 (1)

FuzzyFurB (148573) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318586)

This is yet another reason why we need a replacement for XFree86 that is well thought out. I'm sure the original developers were like "Gee, why use Ctrl-C at all!" but as the author of this story mentions, how do you paste over other text? XFree86 needs to be booted. Instead of searching for a replacement, someone really needs to thik about all the problems and limitations XFree86 imposes on us and come up with an alternative that frees us from all this baggage.

Re:Let's boot XFree86 (1)

pe1chl (90186) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318682)

This has nothing to do with Xfree86, it is a working method developed in the X11 project.
The decision was probably made before MS Windows existed, certainly before it came in wide use.

Of course, no solution, but tale from trenches ... (3, Funny)

jrl87 (669651) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318591)

I have a similar problem ... but it doesn't involve deleting ... or linux (*gasp*) ....

When I'm on Windows I use Trillian which does this and i have a habit of highlighting as i read ... and sense i frequently copy links to send ... I am always pasting into Trillian ... unfortunately this has caused some problems with my gf when i highlight something that she doesn't need to see ....

Re:Of course, no solution, but tale from trenches (1)

brunosock (754057) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318684)

Obviously you don't use linux if you have a girlfriend.

C-c vs mouse highlight copy (1)

DJ Rubbie (621940) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318593)

On my Gentoo box running KDE 3.2.0, there's a Klipper program which acts as a clipboard for the copy buffers. Somehow I think that program is able to distinguish the two different methods of copying, and whenever I do a C-c, then select some text and C-v, it will paste the text I copied with C-c, and if I middle-click with the mouse, it will paste the text I just selected.

Personally I think that's a nice way to do it, since I have two ways to copy things, and having two pseudo buffers is quite nice. Naturally, if things do get confusing, I can always click on the Klipper icon in the system tray and select the text I wanted to paste.

Also, if the left click select/middle click paste must be relied upon, just select and delete the text first, then select the text that needs to be copied. It's only a matter of reversing the workflow compared to the 'normal' Windows way.

I prefer the X way, kind of... (4, Insightful)

whoisjoe (465549) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318594)

Having used UN*X systems almost exclusively for 6 years, I have come to find Ctrl-c, Ctrl-v (or Cmd-c, Cmd-v on Macs) annoying.

But I do know what you're talking about. I mostly run into this issue when entering text into the address bar of Mozilla. Fortunately, Mozilla uses emacs-style keybindings, so if I want to replace what's in the address bar with what's on the clipboard, I just:

1. Focus on the address bar.
2. Hit Ctrl-a to go to the beginning of the line.
3. Hit Ctrl-k to kill the contents of the address bar.
4. Click on the address bar with the middle mouse button to paste the new contents.

I, personally, would like the best of both worlds, but that would essentially require that the system read my mind. Obviously, we're not there yet.

If you find it annoying .. (1)

kolrabi (699852) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318595)

.. that the primary selection is overwritten on highlight, try using the clipboard instead. :) I never used Ctrl+C/V anyway, even when I still used Windows. I used Ctrl+Ins/Shift+Ins instead, they work pretty well.

Emacs bindings help (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9318597)

When I switched to linux I was used to Windows-style copy/pasting too, but in a very few monthes I were used to the middle-click thing.

Now, when I'm using a windows PC (ie at university :\) I have trouble copy/paste ;)

Back when I switched, I had the same troubles as you : I wanted to select to delete, but then it would go into my paste buffer and erase the previous one. It was especially the case for my web browser and its address bar.

My solution is to click only once then use the emacs bindings (e.g C-E C-U) to delete the string.

Some apps (e.g Eclipse) don't even allow the typical X copy/paste system to remain compatible with "windows-like" pasting.

It seems hard that we'll have an unified way to copy/paste on major OSes since we are used to the middle click pasting ;)

no solution to a non-problem (2, Informative)

Ender Ryan (79406) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318598)

I don't get it, what is the problem? X has two copy/paste buffers. One is used with highlight/middle mouse button, the other is like Windows, except the keybindings are specific to the app/toolkit. Generally, all new apps use control+c and control+v, just like Windows. Sans vim, I haven't used an app that uses anything other than control+c/v in years.

So what is the problem? Are the apps you use broken?

Selecting To Read (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9318599)

Anyone else select text as they are reading it? While in the unix terminal, this gets annoying as I may want to highlight without actually copying and erasing what I had copied before.

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algorithm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9318602)

10 Highlight text you want to delete
20 Press Del
30 Highlight text you want to copy
40 Move cursor to copy position
50 Press middle mouse button
60 PRINT 'Happy Camper'

Word of wisdom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9318604)

The select-and-middle-click is not really copy-paste but more like drag-and-drop, just without the actual dragging.

Problem 99% solved (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9318606)

Read this [] and see why.

The only times you will encounter problems is when you are running legacy (pre gtk2/qt3 applications), which in modern distrutions are going quite quickly.

Copying and pasting text just works for me in Linux for years now, I am bewildered why this subject actually came up again!

The answer is ... jedit (2, Insightful)

vlad_petric (94134) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318612)

Download it from here [] .

What most linux aficionados don't realize is that vi and emacs are the best anti-linux vaccines. The moment you tell a non-technical person that he or she would have to use from now on the usability nightmares that vi and emacs are, you can't be sure that they not only will they run away from linux, but they'd also tell everybody to do the same.

KDE does ctrl-c/ctrl-v in most of its apps, if jedit is too heavy for you, try kate for a change.

Open source project very rarely have the money to do real usability apps, so I think it'd be a good idea to adopt UI elements from existing commercial designs

If only Linux would get copy-paste right.. (4, Interesting)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318614)

I find the highlighting of text used in Linux (or X-windows) rather hard... it tends to include too much text or not enough, and when I then click elsewhere and move the mouse just a tiny bit as I click, I highlight another letter and I lose the text I intended to copy. From a usability standpoint, the X-Windows method is horrible. My poor mom never got to grips with it (and she's gotten used to some pretty weird OS'es in the past).

Another thing that Linux needs is a proper clipboard like Windows has. Copy anything you like: pictures, files, texts, documents. Then paste it into any application that will accept the data type. I do my day-to-day work in MS Windows, and this is one feature that I use very often, without having to think about it. Is there anything similar for Linux in the making?

Delete FIRST (1)

rawgod0122 (574065) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318615)

then select and paste

real men - vi && named yank buffers (1)

wherley (42799) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318617)


Stop being a pussy (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9318621)

'nuff said.

X Clipboard Behavior (1)

jfleck (99451) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318622)

A helpful discussion of the X clipboard behavior on freedesktop:

Clipboard Standards [] .

For KDE, (1)

frodo from middle ea (602941) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318629)

there is always the Klipper , which stores multiple clipboards. So you can select the one which you want.

For URLs, Clipper has event handlers, So you can configure Klipper to automatically open the Copied URL, So no need to visit the browser window and paste. Merely highlight the URL, it will go automatically in KDE Clipboard, and Klipper will open it in a URL.

Also other option is if using either Mozilla/FireXXX or Konqueror, open a New TAB , this will give u a blank address bar , So you are free to paste your copied URL.

For Mozilla/FireXXX, there is an extension , I think called diggler, which provides a button to clear the contents of the Address Bar, So just click the diggler button before you paste.

Similarly in Mozilla/FireXXX , if you are copying Text URLs , i.e. something like , then you can install an extension called "Text links", which will give you a Right click Menu to Open the Highlighted Text link in a new tab or a new Window, without having to paste it in the address bar. I agree that all this is related only to Web Browsing, but that's when I used most cut-copy pasting , when I am browsing multiple Sites.

Unix should care more about keyboard users (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9318634)

All the time I use Linux it's the fluff, the eye candy and the mouse with four buttons with all four buttons supported and with double-clicks having different meaning than single-clicks.

Unix/Linux needs to be more like Windows. It won't reach the desktop until it:
- has the command line like cmd.exe
- doesn't require that ./ to run the program - why can't I get into the directory and just type myprog, why is it always ./myprog
- lose the glitzy GUI

Something the Window Manager should handle? (3, Interesting)

veranikon (202025) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318642)

I agree with the frustration of the poster of this article. It's frequently even worse with Unix-under-Windows environments like Cygwin, Hummingbird, where you have to deal with both cut & paste schemes and the data transport between 2 clipboards. I don't favor one scheme over the other; it's just that dealing with both simulatenously is very awkward.

A simple, high-level, question: why can't the Window Manager (Gnome, KDE, etc.) be made to handle both schemes, and allow the user to switch between them, but not let both scheme be active at once? This would of couse require support in the applications running under the WM's, but I would figure such a change in inevitable if the Linux desktop is to become more mainstream.

ditch the mouse (1)

jmrobinson (660094) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318648)

Due to wrist problems in my right hand (we won't go in to details why I have wrist problems), I try not to use the mouse as much for highlighting. Holding down SHIFT and using the arrow keys, HOME and END I find is much faster than the mouse.

Clipboard Program (2, Informative)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318650)

xclipboard helps a little bit. It'll buffer copies and pastes and let you select between them. I use it when the copy/paste behavior really starts to piss me off. It's helpful with emacs too.

The problem is X leaves copy/paste (and pretty much everything else) up to the application, and every application does it differently. Ideally one day we will all settle on a widget toolkit that enforces a standard copy/paste behavior. I'm not holding my breath though.

Just give up... (0, Troll)

DaHat (247651) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318653)

... and run Windows! *ducks*

X Selection (2, Insightful)

amightywind (691887) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318654)

Linux automatically performs a copy while the middle mouse button performs a paste.

This has nothing to do with your machine running GNU/Linux it is the X selection mechanism and its use for copying text. You'd have the same issues on any machine running diverse free software X based applications. There is no good answer for you. It is one of the weaknesses of a federated system.

quickly paste in firefox (1)

hogger (566646) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318658)

The url in firefox is empty in new tabs, so here's what I do:

1. drag over the url
2. hit ctrl+t (creates new tab)
3. middle-click to paste url into browser
4. hit enter

The good old fashioned... (1)

Rick Zeman (15628) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318664)

...original Command-C, Command V, Command Z.

Everything else is just a pale imitation/ripoff.

There is a standard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9318666)

There is a de-facto standard [] for this - basically, Ctrl-X/C/V should use one selection "CLIPBOARD" and the highlight selection should be a completely independent "bonus", "PRIMARY". Then, if anything cut/copy/paste works _better_ than windows - the "normal" clipboard behaviour that windows/mac/amiga/everyone-else is used to, _plus_ the "bonus" of fast middle-button-paste for the simple stuff.

Problem solved - except for applications that wilfully break the conventions or were written before the conventions were established and not updated. Oh well. APPLICATION AUTHORS - PLEASE READ AND UNDERSTAND THE CLIPBOARD SPEC ON FREEDESKTOP.ORG.

mod Down (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9318672)


The writer needs a clue. It is orthogonal. (1, Interesting)

expro (597113) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318680)

The middle button does a "paste current selection", which is not exactly equivalent to any of the other cut / copy / paste functions you find on Windows or Linux. I noticed that OSX has this function available in some apps as shift-command-V.

You can completely ignore it if you do not like it awnd stick to control x / c / v, or you can choose to use it.

Either way, it should not interfere with the normal cut / copy / paste operations that are available.

If you cannot keep that strait in your mind, then ignore the functionality and do it the way Windows does it.

I have found as much consistency on Linux for cut / copy / paste between applications as I ever found on Windows, when I used it -- both are far from perfect.

Klipper (1)

HeLLLight (748979) | more than 10 years ago | (#9318681)

If you are using KDE as your GUI, then Klipper (all though somewhat annoying) is a very good tool to use.

When I create html pages using Bluefish for my internal web server; constantly cutting and pasting can be a very real nightmare. However EVERYTHING that you ctrl+c or ctrl+x shows up in Klipper (5-10 of last copied/cut items). It gets some time to get use to (always clicking on Klipper to have access to cut and copied info) but once you get the hang of it, you will find things get a whole lot easier :)

Use KDE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9318685)

KDE does a great job with cntl-c and cntl-v. Every Application seems to copy and paste with those shorcuts when you use KDE.

KDE, however, isnt my thing. So I usally just have to stick with the mouse buttons.
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