Use a Secret, Alternative Cut and Paste – Mac Kung Fu, 2nd Edition

Tip 11Use a Secret, Alternative Cut and Paste

Ever had something important held in the clipboard, like a picture, yet wanted to quickly cut and paste some text within a document? OS X actually contains two clipboards, although the second is much more primitive than the main one and will cut and paste only text. You won’t find it on any menus, either, and it is available only via two keyboard shortcuts. You can use it in the usual way by highlighting some text, using Control+K to cut the text, and pressing Control+Y to paste the content in the new position. (Note that’s Control and not Command; longtime Unix/Linux users will, of course, recognize this secondary clipboard as an implementation of the kill and yank tools found in the likes of Emacs.)

There’s no “copy” option, unfortunately, although you can emulate this by cutting the text with Control+K and then immediately pasting it back in with Control+Y, before moving to the new position where you’d like the text to be inserted and again pasting with Control+Y.

Only plain text is copied—any formatting such as bold or italics is lost. Additionally, although it should work fine within most OS X applications, it probably will not work if you cut text from one app to paste into another app—in my testing, each app seemed to have its own private secondary clipboard. However, the only way to find out for sure is to give it a try!