I have recently noticed that I press CTRL + C more than once, even if I know that the file has been copied to the clipboard. But I press CTRL + X or CTRL + V only once.

Why do I do this? Is this only a problem for me, or is anybody else is facing it too?

  • 1
    I like that the top (and first) comment there references the issue in this question. Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 20:00
  • 1
    Is this duplicate correct?
    – Cole Tobin
    Commented Nov 15, 2015 at 7:02
  • @ColeJohnson The duplicate and the accepted answers are incorrect as Windows (or maybe the application) sometimes just doesn't copy when you hit Ctrl+C
    – golimar
    Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 7:16

4 Answers 4


Because there is no feedback of the clipboard state. Pressing CTRL+C multiple times gives the guaranteed impression the right data is in the clipboard, just before the next action (CTRL+V, possible).

CTRL+X does have visual feedback, as the data either disappears or changes view (in case of file).

You are not the only one who does it.

  • 13
    Of course, some of us older people remember a different use case for entering Control-C multiple times... Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 18:02
  • @JohnSaunders, I remember also this combination for program exiting in DOS ). Better to say, my fingers remember it. Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 18:13
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    It actually predates DOS, if that can be imagined. My fingers learned it on the TOPS-10 operating system from Digital Equipment Corporation. Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 18:25
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    @JohnSaunders: What? You too? (predating that is) My first experience was on IBM-MVS :-) Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 18:36
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    Note that macOS has feedback on CMD+C. The top menu bar item "Edit" flashes blue, which is perfectly noticeable. I don't think I press it multiple times when I on mac or linux, but I certainly did it when I used Windows more frequently.
    – rodorgas
    Commented Jan 6, 2018 at 20:04

There is another reason, apart from the lack of visual feedback - on Windows, at least, the clipboard doesn't always work. It's a known problem and sometimes transient (that comment is now deleted from the blog):

On a safe mode, fresh profile, firefox does this to me with, I would estimate, about 2-5% frequency (I only remember this happening from the address bar) -- this has been happening from FF 1.5 stable at latest and still happens in the latest FF 3 beta. Whenever I use firefox I now just hit Ctrl+C twice in a row (well, truth be told, I hit the C key over and over like an overcaffeinated 7-year-old) and then I'm almost guaranteed to pick up the link.

I've actually had this happen now and then, and it's one major reason I copy multiple times - after all, it's not much harder to tap C a couple times, and definitely easier than having to go back and copy again.

  • 2
    +1. I have several programs that are buggy with regards to clipboards. You'd think in 2014, on newly written software, on a modern OS, you wouldn't have this issue. But there are still cases where it happens. The bug, combined with the lack of feedback on success, practically beg you to hit it multiple times. (Not that I do, probably why I notice so many buggy apps) Commented Jun 18, 2014 at 18:08
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    It's relieving to know that. My professor even asked me why I did it, and she didn't believed me when I told her it sometimes failed.
    – rodorgas
    Commented Jan 6, 2018 at 20:06

Ctrl-C is an idempotent operation. As long as the same objects are selected, using Ctrl-C two or more times has the same effect as just using it once.

Ctrl-X isn't like that (or at least not always); it destructively removes some objects and puts them in a clipboard. This cannot be repeated; the objects are gone. Of course, the UI may let you repeat it, but that's no longer the same operation. (But note that some user interfaces implement Ctrl-X as only marking the objects as a target for a cut operation that will only occur when the paste is executed; this marking is idempotent.)

Anyway, there is a psychology at play that once you have cut the objects or text, they are in a precarious state: they are gone from the original workspace (gasp!) and exist only inside an invisible clipboard. You do not want to do anything that would wipe out this clipboard, such as pressing Ctrl-X more times, or in general doing anything unnecessary. There is a sense of pressure to find the place to paste the objects as soon as possible, before you get distracted and forget.


I would like to expand on Alexey in the event of a window freeze that eliminates all visible feedback with my opinion:

CTRL+C does nothing to the current document/folder. Otherwise, if you press CTRL+V several times, you've learn already what happens in the past: you get a load of folder that you don't really want and need to take an action against it.

I could argue that a similar thing happens to CTRL+X: you cut and that's it; you won't risk cutting something over the clipboard, which is the only saved stated from previous cut in some cases.

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