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Have an iPhone and iPad? Use This Trick to Copy and Paste Between Devices

Use Apple's universal clipboard to move videos, photos and more between your mobile devices.

Nelson Aguilar
Nelson Aguilar is an LA-based tech how-to writer and graduate of UCLA. With more than a decade of experience, he covers Apple and Google and writes on iPhone and Android features, privacy and security settings and more.
Nelson Aguilar
2 min read
copy and paste across apple products

Apple's universal clipboard allows you to copy and paste across various devices.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple's ecosystem allows you to easily work on your smartphone and then move to another device, like your tablet, and pick up where you left off. Whether you're browsing the internet, making a payment online, sketching a drawing or texting your friends, you can use a feature known as Continuity, which seamlessly connects all your Apple devices. 

One of Continuity's best tools is the universal clipboard. With the universal clipboard, you can copy a photo, video or link on your iPhone and then hop over to your iPad or MacBook and paste it without any issues. If you're already familiar with the tool, you know how useful it is. But we can also tell you about a hidden gesture that makes the universal clipboard much easier to use. 

Are you looking for a new Apple device? Check out CNET's guides to the best iPad and iPhone for 2022.

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Are your devices compatible with Continuity?

For Continuity to work on your Apple products, each device must meet the following requirements:

  • Logged in to the same iCloud account
  • Connected to the same Wi-Fi network
  • Bluetooth and Handoff must be enabled

Also, while the universal clipboard feature works on most Apple devices, for this guide I'll focus just on touchscreen devices, which use pinch gestures with Continuity, so this would only be for compatible iPhone, iPad and iPod touch models running at least iOS 10.

Use pinch gestures to easily copy and paste between your iPhone and iPad

There are several ways to copy and paste with the universal clipboard feature, but the quickest way to do it is with pinch gestures:

  • Copy: Pinch in with three fingers
  • Paste: Pinch out with three fingers

The best way to use this feature is with pictures and videos in the Photos app. Let's say you want to copy and paste a photo from your iPhone to your iPad. All you need to do is open the Photos app on your iPhone, find the photo you want to migrate and then pinch in with three fingers to copy it to your clipboard. To then move the photo over to your other device, open the iPad, go into an app like Notes or Messages and pinch out with three fingers to paste the photo. Below you can see the feature in action.

You can do the same with links and text, but they would both need to be highlighted before using the pinch gestures to copy them to your clipboard and move them over to another device.