As an IT professional, I probably press the CMD+C, CMD+V combos more often than I press the key for letter Q. I also often use the command to copy a piece of screen to the clipboard, which is a super awkward combo SHIFT+CTRL+CMD+4.

At the same time my Mac keyboard is full us useless "function" keys. Windows laptops are the same.

My question is, why don't computer keyboards evolve to accommodate usage patterns? If COPY & PASTE were dedicated keys, they would be the most used function keys by far.

  • On some Linux desktops, you don’t even need the keyboard, highlighting text and middle clicking somewhere to insert it suffices.
    – Andy
    Commented Apr 23 at 9:59
  • I think all major desktop systems now allow pressing the existing Print Screen key again to take a screenshot. So I’d say that’s taken care of.
    – Andy
    Commented Apr 23 at 10:00
  • this question was asked on UX-SE 9 years ago also !
    – Vinay
    Commented Apr 23 at 10:01
  • @Vinay Can you share a link to that question?
    – jazZRo
    Commented Apr 23 at 10:32
  • ux.stackexchange.com/questions/50535/…
    – Vinay
    Commented Apr 24 at 3:29

2 Answers 2


Previous discussion: Dedicated buttons for Copy/Paste on keyboards

Let's start this with a story.

I have an old Microsoft keyboard flying about:

Microsoft keyboard with lots of buttons

It has a lot of buttons, such as a button for back and forward, to open email, refresh the page and even shut down the computer. Back when I was still using it, I maybe would use the media pause/play key, and occasionally the shutdown key. But never the back and forward key.

However, I now have a mouse with 2 extra buttons on the side bound to back and forward, and I use them all the time. So why is that?

As it turns out, distance matters, a lot. Reaching beyond the number row and the F row to reach a button is a very long travel from the home row. Going to it to paste and back is just slower than moving one finger from shift to ctrl and the other from the home row to the bottom row. This is called Fitts' Law.

A Copy and Paste button would need to live somewhere, and anywhere you place it would be either unusual (like: in the middle of the spacebar) or too far away (the Insert key does function as a paste key sometimes!).

Fitts' law also is why the buttons on my mouse work for back and forth navigation: My thumb is right there on the mouse, so reaching it is fast.

It certainly is possible to fit a copy and paste button into a keyboard if you really try, but at that point, the keyboard becomes a different shape. These sort of specialized ergonomic keyboards (and layouts, such as Neo and Dvorak) do exist and are being developed, but they have a hard time to penetrate the market, because consumers as a whole are wary to radical changes, and would rather use what they already know works for them.


I believe there are a few reasons why computer-making companies don't include an obvious copy and paste button.

  1. In addition to the copy and paste button, people use other key combinations such as Ctrl+A, Ctrl+F, and specific tools like Figma that use combinations such as Ctrl+Shift+V, Shift+G, etc. It is not feasible for a company to add every possible key combination, no matter how obvious it may seem.

  2. The keys Ctrl, C, and V are commonly used in conjunction with other keys and text paragraphs. Replacing them with an obvious copy and paste button might not be a good idea.

  3. Touch-based interaction and voice command are the future, which could eliminate the importance of keys in the upcoming years.

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