Microsoft has a press release on the upcoming Windows Phone update and I want you to read the portion involving copy and paste carefully with me:

Soon you’ll be able to copy text from emails, text messages, web pages, and Office Mobile documents, and paste it anywhere you can type.
Using copy and paste is easy and intuitive. In many cases you just tap a word, slide your finger to highlight any additional text, then tap the Copy icon. To insert this text in a message or app, just tap the spot where it should go, then tap the Paste icon.
Copy and paste is a handy way to quickly send someone’s latest Facebook update, turn-by-turn directions from Maps, or a must-see link from Internet Explorer Mobile. Once you’ve copied something, you can paste it again and again.
The new feature adds to the list of time-saving shortcuts already built into Windows Phone, like the ability to tap an address on a webpage to map it (US only).

Yes, “Soon you’ll be able to copy text from emails, text messages, web pages, and Office Mobile documents, and paste it anywhere you can type.” Let’s do a rewrite on what it should have said “Soon you’ll be able to copy text from emails, text messages, web pages, and Office Mobile documents, anywhere on your Windows Phone and paste it anywhere you can type.” So by their words you can only copy from native apps but you can paste into any text box (native or non-native) so you still cannot copy something that’s in a Twitter feed for example.

Microsoft – supply copy and paste abilities to all apps and all developers…you’ve taken six months to not innovate copy and paste at all. Don’t screw up what little progress you’ve made.

I hope I’m over-reading this…

UPDATE: OK Charlie Kindel said it’s a non-issue:

Let’s not hope this is like when Brandon Watson said that there was tethering…


  1. I think (hope) you are. Email, text, Office documents, are familiar terms that users can relate to. Terms like 3rd party apps are not part of every users vocabulary. Can’t think of any reason you should not be able to select any text box, but cut & paste may be tied to auto-correct for example. So developers may have to turn it on, hence not available to ALL apps after the update.

  2. They demoed it on stage with OneNote(?) and the yet unreleased Amazon app. I doubt the Amazon app is native.

  3. I’m sure you’re over-reading it, the way I read it was yes native apps and paste into any app, but my apps only have so many places I want users copying from.

    I’m thinking the stuff they mentioned, and anywhere you can type too.

    I mean would most normal people copy the help file text, or the label to a textbox? Not that I have an issue with users C&P-ing, I’ve needed C&P about twice a month since October on WP7.

  4. @freeway: OneNote is native and the quote from MS (in the post above) is “Soon you’ll be able to copy text from emails, text messages, web pages, and Office Mobile documents, and paste it anywhere you can type.” so you can paste anywhere you can type, but maybe you can’t copy from everywhere…

  5. Man oh man the copy and paste battle never ends.

    David K, if you’ll indulge me, imagine going back in time a few decades and you see your younger self and your mission, as per the agreement you made with the time travel machine dealer, is to tell your youthful, innocent unradiated self about the concept of a smart cell phone. Now picture yourself pulling out a gun, aiming it at your younger self’s head, giving him a pen and paper (or your phone I suppose) and tell yourself, “Write down every single feature you want The Future to deliver you two decades from now. Be specific and I won’t blow our brain out, even though that would be interesting in terms of learning more about time travel paradoxes.”

    Porn would be on the list, unless you figure that goes without saying. Would copy paste be on the list? Of course not. Unless I suppose you went on and on about how Windows is so great and Office is so great and the two together yada yada.. Who the hell cares? There has been more written about copy and pasting on phones of all platforms relative to the actual demand to use it and volume of its use than there has been with anything else, including Netflix and Flash. Yes I know more people talk about Flash but many of those people actually use or want to use it, whereas… ahh you see where I’m going with this — what’s the big deal for Pete’s sake is what I’m trying to say. What are we reading and who do we need to tell about it verbatim on our phones that it’s made for such a damn contentious debate.

    That’s not a rhetorical question. Could someone explain why this is such a torrid incendiary issue? Maybe I’ll just copy paste this comment into an article post with my ANDROID PHONE! :P :P

  6. @Doug Simmons: I think it’s generally overblown but it’s part of a bigger picture. Like this: I get an email with an address in it. I can only tap that and it brings up Bing Maps. That’s it. Can I save it to my contacts? nope. Send it to a friend? Nope. Can I take the email and forward it to someone else but redact the trash talking in it? Nope. In practice, it leads to a few frustrating scenarios in actual use. The walls MS put up on this OS are pretty high. As a business user, you can feel that at times and you need to work around it. It shouldn’t be that way for something so seemingly simple.

  7. in a follow-up post, Charlie Kindel said: “@smartyp It’s really simple: There is no copy & paste API in WP7 update. Edit controls just get end user behavior automatically #wp7dev”

    note the ‘Edit controls…’ – combined with the native-only wording on the update info page, it definitely sounds like you can only *copy* from native apps OR ‘edit’ controls, which probably only includes textboxes (not counting anything copied from stuff rendered in a WebBrowser control). that was my original question – can you copy normal text from 3rd party apps, such as the the text of a tweet – the answer is still not confirmed but it is looking like a no.

    (also, it is rumored that the copy/paste functionality in the Messaging (SMS) app is different than that demoed. the MS update page even says ‘In many cases you just tap a word…’ when referring to how you use the feature, which would seem to mean that there are some cases where that is not true. if plain text was not automatically copyable by the OS, this would also explain this strange inconsistency)

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