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Crazy new iPhone copy-and-paste trick will give you Minority Report vibes

iPhone 13 Pro Main

You might be taking copy and paste for granted on iPhone and iPad, but the feature wasn’t available on the original iPhone. It took some time for Apple to implement it in the early days. Many years later, Apple included copy and paste in the Continuity feature that unifies the various Apple computers you might use.

Continuity lets you move between iPhone, iPad, and Mac, without pausing your workflow. That is, if the app you were using on one device is supported on the other. Multi-device copy and paste support is also included in Continuity, allowing you to move text and images between the iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

This brings us to the brand new mind-blowing iPhone trick from TikTok that shows you how to use gestures to copy-and-paste content. It’s so cool that it’ll give you Minority Report vibes.

Minority Report is the movie everyone thinks of when imagining the computer user interface of the future. We’re in the early years of augmented reality (AR) computing which will eventually get us to a place similar to the Tom Cruise movie. We might move digital objects between supported devices with similar ease and see digital photos and videos overlaid on top of real objects. We might need AR glasses, or we’ll use devices that can project holograms anywhere in the room.

The mind-bending iPhone copy and past trick does not involve AR components or holograms. Instead, it relies on a hand gesture that translates into copy-paste actions. In the movie, Cruise uses his hands to maneuver digital content.

iPad Air (2022) Main
iPad Air 5th-generation. Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

How to copy and paste between iPhone, iPad, and Mac

iPhone, iPad, and Mac support the Continuity copy and paste features. You can copy an item on your iPhone and then paste it on a different Apple device where you’re signed in with the same Apple ID. You’ll also want your devices connected to the same Wi-Fi network and within Bluetooth range (with Bluetooth turned on).

Once that’s done, you’ll have to have Handoff enabled in the Settings app on all your devices so that copy-and-paste is possible between them.

But, mind you, the trick below won’t work if your devices are too old. They’ll have to support iOS 10, iPadOS 13, and macOS 10.12 or later for the Continuity Copy and Paste feature to work.

To copy/cut and paste between devices, you can just touch a selection on the first device and select the appropriate menu. That’s going to be Copy or Cut initially. Move to the second device, tap and hold a selection, and Paste. On Mac, you can use keyboard shortcuts to perform the copy and paste.

This brings us to the fantastic iPhone copy and paste trick someone posted on TikTok. It’s the hand gesture that makes copy and paste even easier.

macOS Monterey Universal Control
macOS Monterey: Universal Control demo from WWDC 2021. Image source: Apple Inc.

The mind-blowing iPhone TikTok trick

As you’ll see in the video below, all you have to do is pinch-close on the screen with three fingers on the iPhone to copy a photo. Then move your hand to the other device and pinch-open three fingers to paste the photo.

You have to make sure the gesture sequence happens within a short period of time. And you’ll want to hold your fist closed while moving between devices. Importantly, you should ensure that the destination supports the paste action. You can’t copy photos just anywhere on iOS or iPadOS. Also, you can’t use the gesture to move content to someone else’s phone. There’s AirDrop for that.

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The “secret” gesture isn’t a secret, as Apple explains it in a support document. If you make a pinch gesture with three fingers twice in a row, you’ll perform the Cut action. You can then paste the content elsewhere.

It might seem strange until you get more practice with the gesture. But the feature works on the same device, assuming you master it.

Also, it should work with any content that can be copied and pasted, not just photos. And it might work between iPhone and Mac, too, although I couldn’t get it to work on the trackpad.

You can still copy with a pinch on the iPhone and do the regular paste on the Mac.

Finally, it works with other content, like text. But when you select text to copy, you already get a Copy shortcut on the iPhone screen, so using the pinch isn’t necessary.

If you want to learn other useful iPhone tricks, check out our previous coverage.


More iPhone coverage: For more iPhone news, visit our iPhone 14 guide.

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he closely follows the events in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises. Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.