Selecting text on phones and computers is something you’ll likely do several times throughout the day. From pasting an address into a chat conversation to copying a quote from a web page, being able to pick out words with precision is a key skill in the digital age.
But you’ve probably been doing it the same way for decades – clicking or tapping and dragging with your mouse or your finger. On both mobile and desktop, there are handy shortcuts that you can use to select text faster and more accurately.
Select text on Android and iOS
When it comes to text selection, you will notice some difference in smartphones, because different operating systems may not allow app developers to enable text selection features in the same way. But these technologies should work smoothly in the most popular applications, such as web browsers, document editors, and note-taking applications, for example.
On Android, double clicking or long pressing on the word will select it all. But if you then want to select more words on either side of the first word, hold your finger down and drag it around the screen. You can also tap and drag the blue handles that appear on the edge of the selected text to expand the selection character by character.
[Related: The fastest way to scan text on an iPhone or iPad]
When you select a text, a popup will appear above it: Pick select all From this menu (you may have to click the three dots first) to highlight all text available in a particular area. This could include all text in a chat message, a field in a web form, or an entire document. This popup also allows you to access files copy And the Involved Options you can use to move the text to another location.
On iOS, the approach is similar: you can either tap and hold or double-tap a word to select it. Let your finger go, and you’ll see blue handles appear on either side of the word. If you need to, drag the handles outward to expand the selection further, letter by letter.
To choose large text groups, tap and hold a word, then hold your finger. If you move your finger after that, the selection expands word by word, so you can quickly select entire sentences or paragraphs. Once you release your finger from the screen, you will see the blue handles appear.
One difference from Android is that you can also triple tap with one finger to select an entire paragraph. With the text selected, a popup appears above it, giving you options for select all (Highlight all text on a page or in a specific section of the app) and to copy Text to iPhone clipboard so you can paste it into another app.
Select text on Windows and macOS
With keyboard and mouse or trackpad access, you have more flexibility when it comes to selecting text than on your smartphone. You can simply click and drag across a section of text of course, but there are also plenty of other text selection tips to know.
One trick that works on both Windows and macOS is double-clicking to quickly select a word — if the mouse or trackpad button is kept down, you can extend the selection of a word at a time in any direction. For paragraphs, change it to triple-click: as with words, you can either leave the selection in one paragraph or drag the cursor to select additional paragraphs.
On your PC, there are no popups like those on mobile, but there are keyboard shortcuts. Ctrl + a on Windows and cmd + a On macOS, it will select all text in a document or web page, for example. With selected text, Ctrl + C on Windows and cmd + c On a Mac, the text will be copied to the clipboard, while Ctrl + V. or cmd + q He will cut it.
You can also right-click on a selected piece of text to bring up a context-sensitive menu. The options in this menu will vary depending on the software you are currently using, but you should find both copy And the Cuts. You may also see options for delete text and Involved in another place.
[Related: 20 essential Windows keyboard shortcuts that will make you forget your mouse]
If you feel more comfortable using keyboard shortcuts to select text, you have plenty of alternatives. On both Windows and macOS, Shift + Left Arrow And the Shift + Right Arrow The text to the left or right will select one character at a time. You can also use Shift + Up Arrow And the Shift + Down Arrow To select entire lines of text at one time. There is a caveat though—the select cursor will jump to the same place on the adjacent line, so if you want to select clean lines of text, it can get a bit messy. Here’s a good reason to refine your selection: press and hold control (Windows) or Cucumber (macOS) at the same time, and selecting expands a word at a time instead of expanding a character.
you can use Shift + Home (Windows) or Cmd + Shift + Left Arrow (on macOS) to select all text in the current line on the left, and Shift + End (Windows) or Cmd + Shift + Right Arrow Selects all text on the current line to the right. There is, too Ctrl + Shift + Home (Windows) or Cmd + Shift + Up Arrow (macOS) to select everything between the current position and the top of a document or web page, and Ctrl + Shift + End (Windows) or Cmd + Shift + Down arrow (macOS) Selects everything between the current position and the bottom of a document or web page.
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