If the user selects something that is read only, and it is "copyable", should the application still copy to the clipboard if the users attempts to cut, or should it do nothing?

My instinct is that it should copy to the clipboard, but I don't know if that's going to confuse the user by implying that the data is editable.

On the other hand, if I were to compose a hypothetical context menu to "cut/copy/paste", I would think that read only data should not have the option of "cut", since that would be obviously misleading; so if the context menu item is disabled, it wouldn't make sense to have the keyboard (or other method) "cut" function as expected.

2 Answers 2


I'd say it would reaffirm the use patterns of what cut & copy actually do to disallow copy-functionality if "cut" is used on read-only text.

Having "cut" do the job of a similar function under unique circumstances is unnecessary and confusing. Cut should cut, and copy should copy - they are not interchangeable.


In addition to what Arman has said, at times the industry develops a certain trends and users get educated about the same. Involuntarily they start expecting things which may or may not be efficient solutions of problems. Considering the widely used example of a internet browser, it will not copy a read only text when cut key is pressed.

Essentially these two operations are different. Also what you are saying about the menu is valid, and hence a cut should not do copy 'implicitly' if cut operation is not allowed.

Yet I think you asked this question to just reaffirm your notion about this matter. I hope it has helped.

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