How to copy and paste items between Microsoft Office apps on an iPad

Learn how to copy and paste text, images, and other content between Office apps on your iPad.

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Image: Sarah Tew/CNET

You may use Microsoft Office primarily on your computer, but the suite also works well on an iPad. You can multitask by opening and viewing two and even three Office apps on the screen at the same time. And just like on your PC, you can copy and paste items from one app to another. Using the standard Copy and Paste commands or the familiar drag and drop maneuver, you can copy text, hyperlinks, images, and other items between any two apps. Let's look at the ways you can copy and paste between Office apps on your iPad.

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The iPad offers a couple of multitasking features that let you view and work with more than one app at the same time. With Slide Over, you can view two apps on the screen with one app in a narrow pane resting on top of the other. With Split View, you can display two or three apps together on the screen and resize each window. The capabilities of Slide Over and Split View vary based on the model of your iPad. The iPad Pro lineup, the iPad mini 4, and the 9.7-inch iPad support both modes. The iPad Air and the older iPad minis support Slide Over but not Split View. For this article I'm using the 11-inch iPad Pro.

SEE: Comparison chart: Office suites (Tech Pro Research)

First, multitasking works easiest if you move the apps you want to use onto the Dock at the bottom of the screen. To do that, just drag and drop each icon onto the Dock. Open the first app from the Dock—let's say Microsoft Word. Create or open a document in which you want to copy and paste an item. Next, swipe up from the bottom of the screen to display the Dock. Drag the icon for another Office app such as Excel to the right side of the screen. Release the icon, and Excel should nestle into place as a Slide Over pane. Open a spreadsheet in Excel with information you want to copy to Word (Figure A).

Figure A

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Select the cells you wish to copy. A menu should then pop up with commands to Cut, Copy, Edit, and more. Tap the Copy command (Figure B).

Figure B

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Move to your Word document. Tap the area in the document where you want to paste the copied cells. From the popup toolbar, tap the Paste command. After you've pasted them, tap the Paste Options icon. You can now opt to Keep Source Formatting, Keep Text Only, or Merge Formatting. Keeping the source formatting preserves the cells as a table, while keeping the text or merging the formatting converts the cells into straight text within Word (Figure C).

Figure C

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To use the drag and drop method instead, press down on the selected cells in Excel. Move your finger to your Word document. You should see an icon for the copied content (Figure D).

Figure D

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Release your finger to place the copied cells in the right spot (Figure E).

Figure E

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Next, try using the apps in Split View mode. To do this, drag the top part of the Excel pane up until it turns into a rectangular window and one or both apps gray out. You may need to play with the position of the pane to get it just right (Figure F).

Figure F

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Release your finger, and the two windows should appear side by side with a border between them. You can now adjust the size of each window by dragging the border to the left and then to the right. You may want to position the border so each window has the same width (Figure G).

Figure G

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Now, try copying and pasting from Word to Excel. Select the text you want to copy. Tap the Copy command from the popup toolbar, move to Excel, tap an empty cell, and then tap the Paste command. Or you can just drag and drop the copied text from Word to Excel (Figure H).

Figure H

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Let's add a third app to the mix. For this to work, your two current apps will remain in Split View, while the third app will appear in Slide Over mode. Swipe up from the bottom to display the Dock. Let's open PowerPoint this time. Drag the icon for PowerPoint to the middle of the screen. Avoid dragging it to the left or right as that will simply replace the pane for Word or Excel (Figure I).

Figure I

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Open a presentation in PowerPoint with content you wish to copy to Word. Move the PowerPoint pane to the right of the Word pane. Select text or an image you want to copy. Drag the selected content to Word and release it in the right spot (Figure J).

Figure J

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If you want to copy content from PowerPoint to Excel, just move the PowerPoint pane to the left of the Excel window. Select, drag, and drop the text or image you want to copy (Figure K).

Figure K

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By Lance Whitney

Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books—one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.