Even if users of computers don't know any other shortcut commands, Ctrl-C is a very common one and the easiest for users to pick up. This is backed up with personal experience and little study of most people around my community.

I noticed pressing Ctrl-C once is no more common. Users tend to press it two or several times before trusting it has copied. I know you might be guilty of this as well.

Does it mean that users has lost the trust they have on computer keyboard shortcuts or that this is an implication that touch gesture will replace physical keyboards on a PC? Or do you think there is some other reason?

  • 3
    MS Word 2011 actually seems to have a bug whereby (CMD)+C'ing can take up to 3 attempts to copy an equation, or part thereof. So yes, I have gotten into the habit of holding (CMD) and jamming 'C' several times when it's an equation.
    – OJFord
    Jun 18 '14 at 12:33
  • <sarcasm> Habit of "working" with POSIX shells and remembering their rm -rf / moments </sarcasm>
    – user80551
    Jun 18 '14 at 14:54
  • @OllieFord I bet you're using three finger drag with a trackpad. That's not an MS Word bug. It's an OS X problem and many (most?) programs that are not using OS X's native GUI toolkit are affected (not just Word). See my answer below where I describe why this happens. (Yes, it's awfully annoying.)
    – Szabolcs
    Jun 18 '14 at 15:29
  • @Szabolcs Certainly not! I detest that gesture. Took me some time to re-establish a Windows-esque double tap and drag.
    – OJFord
    Jun 18 '14 at 15:36
  • @OllieFord Then it really must have an additional bug. The problem I describe seems to affect many programs, including Mathematica which I use daily :-( I don't use Word often
    – Szabolcs
    Jun 18 '14 at 15:39

This is not a new pattern.

The reason is simply that there's no feedback. You can't see whether the copy succeeded. That's why people tend to press it a couple of times, just to be sure.

See the second answer to this question: Why do people clear the screen multiple times when using a calculator?

Calculators obviously have a state, since they do multi-step operations, but they don't clearly show their state. In many calculators, if you see a zero on the screen, you have no idea if the calculator is in the middle of an operation or not. So we press Reset a bunch to make sure.

That's where the repeated copying comes from.

  • 7
    It's also worth noting that, for example, Mac OS flashes the system bar when copying text via the keyboard shortcut.
    – Kroltan
    Jun 18 '14 at 8:56
  • 1
    I have witnessed in some apps that the selection is cleared after copying. It serves as a nice feedback but can hinder use in some cases, where a repeat copying is needed for some reason.
    – mike3996
    Jun 18 '14 at 10:26
  • @progo Use case: you copy a part of text with Ctrl+C then extend/modify selection via Shift+arrows and paste with Ctrl+V the old copied text and with Ctrl+Middle-click the current selection (not on Windows).
    – Bakuriu
    Jun 18 '14 at 12:10
  • For that reason, I use Ctrl+X, Ctrl+V instead of Ctrl+C whenever possible.
    – iFreilicht
    Jun 18 '14 at 13:07
  • Maybe the OS needs a small green dot in the corner of the screen that'll show for just a second when it registers a copy command. Jun 18 '14 at 14:23

Adding to Dirk v B's answer:

I noticed pressing Control C once is no more common. Users tend to press it two or several times before trusting it has copied. which I know you might be guilty of this.

I am. I am also guilty of pressing the copy button multiple times (mainly in environments where it doesn't give feedback). So, for me, it's not really about trusting the shortcut but trusting a process for which feedback was not given.

But even if there is feedback, I might copy more that once (either by button or shortcut). Why? Doing so doesn't cost me anything (and doesn't have any significantly bad side effects); the time it takes to press the button (in the interface or the keyboard) one, two or even five times is pretty much the same and orders of magnitude less than the time it would take to copy paste again if, by some reason X, it failed the first time. In fact, it's less than checking the feedback which for shortcuts will not be where I'm looking (typically I'll be looking at the text I'm copying and not in some status bar). This could explain why it's more usual to repeat copying when you do it by a shortcut.

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