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What’s the Difference Between Typing and Copy/paste?

Is there a difference between typing and copy/paste? I’ve got the same data in Notepad. Now, I’m typing the data into a form or I’m pasting that same data into the form. What’s the difference between the two processes? Is it possible to know that I was not using the keyboard by typing, but I was just pasting the data? Or is there any software that can prove the difference between the two processes?

The difference between typing and copying/pasting depends on the program that you’re using.

In an ideal world, the program would not know whether characters were typed in or pasted from the clipboard. Most programs really have no need to know or care about the difference. In fact, many applications are simply not involved in the process whatsoever.

Many, but not all.

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Windows common controls

Many applications use  Windows standard or common controls. When you’re typing into a field in a program or on a web page, it’s actually a Windows common control that handles character entry – whether something is copied to or pasted from the clipboard, being typed in, or some kind of combination.

The program that’s receiving the data? It doesn’t know. In fact, it’s not even involved until everything is done and the person hits Enter, OK, or whatever.

Some applications need more control

On the other hand, some programs are deeply involved in the whole copy/paste process.

Edit MenuA good example would be a word processor. There are so many different types of content and different types of formatted information, that the application needs to make some decisions as to exactly how to treat that data when it’s pasted in. When that happens the application absolutely is involved in processing the paste, and potentially transforming the data or its formatting according to whatever its own internal needs might be.

Proving it after the fact

But can that involvement be detected or proven?

Theoretically, the answer is no. Theoretically the result of typing should be no different than the result of pasting that same text in. Once you have the data in your document or form, it’s just data with no real indication of its source.

I have to say “theoretically”, since there’s actually nothing that prevents a program that knows about copy/paste to somehow include the information in its file format, either explicitly for some reason, or as a side effect of a complex file format. In my opinion the chances of this are exceptionally slim.

87 comments on “What’s the Difference Between Typing and Copy/paste?”

  1. On a web page it’s typical that any data entered into a form isn’t processed at all until the form is submitted. But it is possible to process keystrokes (and mouse clicks) as they happen, so it’s within the realm of possibility that someone could build a web page that could detect whether you typed or copy-pasted text into the form. But I’m not sure why anyone would do so, usually the content is the only interesting data, not how it got there.

  2. Seems like there have been times when I’ve pasted information into an online form and could not go on to the next page until it was typed into the field instead. But there may have been other unknown factors involved. Anyone else had that experience?

    • I’ve had online forms stop me with a warning and not let me paste in. I wonder why they think that’s more secure. Seems like it would encourage people to use passwords that are easy to type.

    • I have, yes. Typically it’s forms that use Javascript to perform some kind of validation (often password complexity) as you type. If you paste in the code doesn’t perform its validation and thus prevents you from moving forward. Sometimes after pasting it’s enough to simply arrow back and forth in the field, other times only typing will do.

  3. Very interesting article! I am a software developer and a lil paranoid, generally 😉

    I have many passwords I need to remember, gmail, online banking, amazon…etc.
    I know and have heard of many keylogger/trojan and other methods of obtaining other peoples passwords.
    Hence, this is my methodology of saving/using passwords.
    I save them on notepad using a computer that is not connected to any network/internet.
    I then use WinRar to archive the Notepad file and give the WinRar a basic password.
    Save the WinRar archive on a USB.

    On a public or private computer, I use this this USB and get to the Notepad file after a basic WinRar password and then “Copy and Paste” my password wherever required, Instead of writing down my passwords on a paper and typing them in all the time.

    Do you feel as a computer expert this is a good way? I don’t like using KeyPass and other password security programs, infact I think using those are not at all wise! Btw love 2-step verification like gmail.

    I know this is a post regarding typing vs Copy/Paste, I hope you don’t mind my question regarding password security!

    • Pasting a password does not bypass any sufficiently intelligent keylogger. They can just as easily note the paste, and then snag your password from the clipboard.

      • Not only that but keyloggers often send out periodic screenshots which would capture the password as it appeared on the screen. So if you have several passwords in the text file, the keylogger would send them the whole visible page full of passwords and possibly more.

  4. I’ve encountered programs that do not allow copy/paste, or do not handle copy/paste correctly.
    As for storing passwords in a text document, Leo has mentioned some ‘keylogger’ malware that is capable of taking screen shots on mouse clicks, so in that respect copy/paste adds nothing.

  5. hello, i would like to talk about and know about difference between typed text or ocr converted copy past text. i am giving job work for typing to people but ,some people instead of typing he convert text by using software and then send me after doing some correction , so need to know how can i know it is typed or copy past by converting from ocr or any other software

    • It’s not possible to distinguish typed text and test produced by OCR and pasted into a document. This resulting files would simply be .doc, .rtf, .txt, .odt etc. with nothing to show that they have been copied and pasted from an OCR program. This is similar to what Leo said in the section “Proving it after the fact”. In order to know whether it was copied and pasted, the program which you are using for the data input would have to be designed to detect it.

  6. I have got a work in which the company provides me a PDF document fully password protected. they ask to type the PDF data into a word file and gave a security reason that if the data found copied then they will reject that data. i have used ABBYY to convert the PDF file to word and then i am copying it from there and pasting in the word file.. so can you tell that can this data be checked whether that data has been copied or not. if yes then please provide a solution for this so that no can know that whether the data is being copied or not

    • Your question kind of doesn’t make sense because you are copying the data. So yes the data is being copied.

      If they are asking you to rewrite the data in some way that it won’t seem like it has been copied then my only recommendation is to not do that. It’ is possibly illegal!

    • You could use ABBYY to convert the text and save it as a .txt text file, not a Word or RTF file. You could then copy and paste that text into Word.

      Word and other formatted text formats can contain meta-data, this is information about the file saved inside the file which is normally not visible, but using a function in Word, you can view it. That step of saving first as unformatted text can’t contain meta data, as any data in a text file is always visible in a text viewer. I use this method to prevent any strange formatting, which ABBYY does a lot of.

  7. i have been given a home based assignment that i have to see and type the content in pdf file. but i have copy paste and edit it according to their requirement. is there any chance to distinguish between copy paste and edited data and typed data. please let me know as soon as possible. and is there any software which can detect this??

    • Depends on the software you’re pasting into, mostly. It’s possible that meta-data could be pasted in that would indicate or have characteristics of the original source. Paste into Notepad, on the other hand, and the only thing you get is text.

    • Yes. Paste it into Notepad first and that will remove all formatting. It will be just like you typed into into Notepad. But the thing is – if you are trying to cheat on an assignment… don’t! Cheating is just not worth it.

  8. i had copied a text from image into a notepad……… is it possible to find that i had pasted in nootepad file rather than writting that file

  9. Yes. Paste it into Notepad first and that will remove all formatting…………………….. how to format after pasting text into notepad……. i want to copy text from GT Text into notepad….?

  10. Hi Leo sir. I have been given an assignment that is see the text from scanned pdf file and type it into a word document. I have a lot of work to do. My company gave me a warning that if any ocr find your work will be rejected. Is there any way to find the text that has been copied from any source or copied from pdf or notepad. If yes how can I solve this problem without knowing the text copied from ocr. software to download. I have read all your replies asked to you. But I didn’t get the clarity in this matter. If you don’t mind please explain once again. Thank you sir.

  11. Hi, I am doing data conversion work, from Images to MF Notepad (it is a Adobe flash Player version), I converted my images into notepad .txt format then using a software I converted into flash readable into MF Notepad (it is like Notepad). Then I correct it by my own by watching image provided. My company ask me to type in MF Notepad watching Images and not to use software. Can anyone or any software can detect this that I am using software to convert it. Please help me with the information.

    • I’m not familiar with MF Notepad, so I wouldn’t know if it stores any additional information. I assume it should, but If you take the extra step of copying it to the Windows supplied Notepad first, it should strip off any identifying information.

    • There is a possibility that some formatting information was copied from the source, but even if that formatting information were pasted, it would take someone with some computer forensic skills to find it. If you are extremely worried, copy and paste it into Notepad.exe and then copy it again from notepad to strip away any formatting before pasting into the new Word file.

  12. How to make copied text as my own typed text??Please tell me clearly if there is any pure solution regarding this….

    • Most, if not all, of the time, copied and pasted text appears exactly the same as typed text. Even if there was evidence that it was pasted, it wouldn’t prove anything as, very often, people cut and paste within the same document.

  13. i have got to type from a PDF to notepad if i convert that PDF file to text and copy paste to notepad is that be able to be detected whether it is typed or copied

  14. regards this conversation i got an answer for how to check word document is copied or copied/pasted.
    firstly convert the data what you want then to paste into the notepad.
    often To copy entire notepad data and again paste into the MS WORD document.
    to give proper alignments what you need,

    there is no software to find this type of documents typed or copied. the only spelling checked software is on market now.
    and one more thing it’s really no company doesn’t want to know this is typed or copied/pasted document, the data is correct (spelling mistakes) or not it will check only.
    No need to type all the matter the technology is growing. there is no cheating here. AM I RIGHT GUYS….

  15. hello lee / team,
    I have read all the questions and answers here from many different users but still i want to confirm about copy past. I have got a project which need to be converted from JPEG to Note Pad. If i convert the image file to notepad (text) using OCR software will the company be able to find it out? because they have mentioned in their terms and conditions that i should not use any other software for conversion but type it instead. Please advise.

    thank you

    • If you copy the text to notepad first and recopy the text into the document you are doing the project in, it should strip off any OCR identifying information.

  16. Hello
    Im given an assignment where i should type information of 20 pages. I got the information nd cut nd pasted it in word. If i copy it ona cd will that person come to know that it is copied in stead of typing.? We were allowed to copy but not entirely….i made changes by formatting nd chnging the font nd size i even cleared nombers from the information.
    Plzzz help mi. Tell mi if you come to no if the text is copied or typed

    • Read the article you are commenting on. It gives all the information we have on the subject. If it’s information you are copying from a page on the internet, you will very likely get caught.

  17. Hello frends…I m a student m unaware of all dis…but m planning to start work from home data entry.. as crisis of money for my college…n wen enquired I was told to convert PDF format to be typed in ms word …if I copy n paste will dey get to know I did copy abd paste or I typed..

    • If you copy and paste the text into Notepad first and copy it will strip of any identifying metadata. Then you can copy and paste it into the Word document.

  18. Is it okay to paste the data from PDF to ms word in data entry work . .
    Or will it be rejected in quality checking software. . ?

    • It normally shouldn’t be detectable, but to be sure, paste it into Notepad.exe first and then copy it out again, it will remove all traces. Or you can paste it by right clicking where you want to insert it in the Word document and selecting “Keep text only” or “Paste without formatting” under “Paste options”.

  19. Sir I have d question dat I have given assignment of ear file dat is fully password protected.This rar file us in d form of jpeg file,so plz give me a solusn how can i convert dis file in to word document

    • Sorry, but what you;’re saying doesn’t make sense to me. A rar file in the form of a jpeg? No such thing. And if it’s password protected you’ll need the password.

      • This is the rar file in jpeg format of size 58 mb.but I want to convert this jpeg format in to ms word using OCR software.I tried many times but can’t be successful in converting this file. So plz suggest how I will convert dat jpeg file to ms word file ,Thank you

        • Again, this makes no sense. A rar file is a compressed archive. If it’s password protected then you need the password. If it contains a jpeg – well, a jpeg is a picture, nothing more. Generally that means you’ll need to open the picture, look at it, and then type in what you see into a Word document. Sometimes OCR can be used.

          • If I understand, you say that the .jpg file is inside an encrypted, rar file. If that’s the case, you won’t be able to access the contents of the .jpg file without a password. That’s what an encryption password is for, to make it impossible to access for anyone without the password.

  20. Hy sir ,the company give their own notepad n I have to type in dat notepad also
    If I will copy n paste the text in dat notepad, the company can detect dat or not.Thanku

    • Those functions appear to be blocked by program to prevent sensitive information being held in the clipboard.

  21. hii sir my question is the company has given a typing project in jpeg file, but there is strictly mentioned no OCR can be used ,so is there any software that can detect whether the text is typed or converting text through OCR …plz sir reply ….thank u

  22. I am working data entry work. They provided a software(like excel) in which copy/paste is disabled.I have to enter the exact entries in the software from a PDF. So are there any ways to Enable copy/paste option and use it.
    Are there any chances that the software may get locked?? Or they would come to know that its copied and not typed??

    • If that’s what your employer insists that you do, I recommend you type and not waste lots of time trying to disable their systems. There’s always the risk that you can be found out.

  23. Sir i am doing data entry job but i cant type if we use any software to convert how they will detect whether it s typed or converted?

    • “How”? No way to know. They might be able to. They might NOT be able to. The safest thing to do is to follow your employers instructions.

  24. hello, sir, I want to know that I have received a .rar file which contains many jpeg files and I have to type it in notepad but I am doing copy-paste from the image in the Microsoft notes and then copy from there and I paste it in the notepad and I save the document as .txt then please sir I want to know that it can be detected?

  25. I have got some data entry work and im using ocr to convert image into text file and i will copy/paste in notepad.
    But in mail they have mentioned if it is detected as copy/paste work then project will automatically rejected .

    Is it really possible to detect that is not typed manually???

  26. I have taken a work from home job to convert jpg files to dxt. I have directly got them converted thru OCR to dxt. Now, since all the files were created the same day, it shows the creation date the same, when I make changes the modified date changes and the accessed date remains the same as the creation date. Can u let me know on this. Can this be traced as converted and not typed. Can the person understand from the Properties details of the file that its converted and not typed.
    Can the creation date be also changed?

    • Read the article you are commenting on. The same things would apply in your case. This isn’t a guarantee, but copying and pasting the text into notepad would strip of any formatting and metadata. But again, it’s not a guarantee.

  27. I have converted jpeg files to dxt files and now for each file when I check the General tab in properties it says”this file has been taken from different computer”, what does this mean, because I have received the zip folder on email and then I have copied the zip folder to my desktop. From this is it traced that the file was converted somewhere else and pasted to my pc.

  28. I was given one task to type jpg to notepad. They said that I can’t use any other software even MS Word also. I want to know why they say that? I just want to check spelling after typing. I am planning to copy that text into ms word, then again I will copy back to notepad. Can they find I copy the matter into word? And what problem maybe for them, if I type into MS word?

    • It’s unlikely that they could tell the difference. But to be sure, type it into Notepad and copy and paste the results into Word and use that to check the spelling. Then you can manually fix any spelling errors you find in the .txt document.

    • Why? Ask the instructor. My guess is they don’t want any tools to “help” you — they want you to practice and test accurate typing without any assistance at all. Follow those instructions.

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