Some times I copy something to the clipboard, and it doesn't paste with Shift+Insert, but with Ctrl+V or right-click paste. The behavior seems confusing and a bit unpredictable. Is there some logic behind the variation?

4 Answers 4


There are two types of clipboards in Unix/Linux: PRIMARY (often used with Ctrl-X/C/V) and SELECTION (mouse selected text, inserted with Shift-Insert or clicking the mouse middle button).

See https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/clipboard for more details.

  • 5
    I think this is the best answer.
    – Wyatt Ward
    Oct 23, 2014 at 21:35

Here's what I used to do:

Ctrl+Insert : Copy to the clipboard

Shift+Insert : PASTE from the clipboard

Shift+Delete : Cut TO the clipboard

Now I have an Apple Keyboard, I do: (The apple keyboard does not have an insert key)

Ctrl+C to Copy to the clipboard

Ctrl+V to PASTE FROM the clipboard

Shift+Delete to cut TO THE clipboard.

In a terminal using Putty:

Select the text with the mouse copies directly to the clipboard

Right-Clicking anywhere in the terminal window does the paste

In a regular shell session:

I select with the mouse, and use Ctrl+Shift+C to COPY to clipboard

I use Ctrl+Shift+V to paste.


This question seems to be related to the behaviour of keys combinations, but you don't give an application in which you perform these keys combo. So, taking in consideration what Javier Rivera says, the reason of why it is needed to use SHIFT+CTRL in a terminal, is because of some of these combinations are used in terminal command's control.

In example: when you wish to "cancel" the current command, you pŕess CTRL+C, which is used in the majority of the systems to perform the "Copy" task. This way, if you press CTRL+C in a terminal in order to "Copy" a portion of text and an application or process is running, you will "cancel" the process or "close" the running application.

a command is terminated by the ctrl-c keys combo

Depending on the GUI that you use, or the software application itself, SHIFT+CTRL is useful for formatting or performing the "special-paste" task, which allow you to choose the format on which the copied text will be dropped into the application.

In example: if you use OpenOffice Word Processor or Spreadsheet, when SHIFT+CTRL+V you will be prompted to choose what format will you use for the clipboard to be dropped into the document.

The next image illustrates how the CTRL-V and SHIFT+CTRL+V keys drops the clipboard's content into a document: illustration

The next image illustrates how the CTRL-V and SHIFT+CTRL+V keys drops the clipboard's content into a document, AFTER CHOOSING THE FORMAT in the right side documen: illustration

In certain cases, as code (html, php, javascript) editors, you can choose between pasting the portion of text copied from a website or the code that generates the text in the website. In example: when copying from a formatted table, you can choose to paste the text in the table or to paste the code for generating the table into a web.

You should check into the application's "Edit" menu in order to see how the "Paste special" task is handled.

The next image illustrates how OpenOffice Word Processor handles the "Paste Special" feature: enter image description here

  • 6
    The question appears to me about the two types of clipboards: PRIMARY (usually Ctrl-C/V/X) and CLIPBOARD (mouse selection, insertion with Shift-Ins), and not having to use Shift additionally in a terminal for the PRIMARY clipboard's shortcuts (or LibreOffice's special paste).
    – blueyed
    Oct 9, 2013 at 22:29
  • 8
    This "answer" makes no reference to Shift+Insert as mentioned in the question?
    – MrWhite
    Nov 2, 2018 at 15:18

As far as I know I use always CRTL+V to paste but when I'm in the terminal. For historical reasons CTRL+letter can't be used there, so I use SHIFT+CTRL+V in terminal.

I always believe that Shitf+Insert is an heritage from older Unix keep them to get old timers comfortable, but that modern GUIs use CTRL+V as default.

  • They are just two different clipboards, as explained by blueyed. May 9, 2015 at 9:06

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