April 24, 2010

Paste in Place comes to Photoshop & Illustrator CS5

Let’s say you copy some data in Photoshop & want to paste it in the same spot but on another layer. How do you do it?

If you’ve kept the same selection active, no problem: PS will deposit your pixels into that spot. But what if you cut instead of copy, thereby deselcting the original pixels? Or what if you want to paste your pixels at the same coordinates in a different document? Sure, these things can be done (New Layer Via Cut, or Shift-dragging pixels between docs), but the solutions aren’t obvious.

Photoshop CS5, along with Illustrator CS5, introduces the “Paste in Place” command (Shift-Cmd-V/Shift-Ctrl-V). If you’ve ever used Paste in Place in InDesign or Flash, you know what it does, preserving object coordinates when pasting (e.g. copy something in the upper-left corner, then paste it in just the same spot, even in other documents). The command appears under Edit->Paste Special in Photoshop. For bonus points Illustrator also adds “Paste On All Artboards” for pasting data in the same coordinates on each artboard (one of the numerous artboard-related enhancements made in CS5).

There’s always more room for improvement, and I may as well mention that we hoped to make the command work between applications. That way you could, for example, set up a 1024×768 design in Illustrator, copy data to the same coordinates in a PSD of equivalent dimensions, and then copy data to the same coordinates in a Flash Pro project. We ran out of time to make those changes, but if you’d find them useful in the future, please let us know.

Posted by John Nack at 2:55 PM on April 24, 2010


  • Julian Kussman — 3:38 PM on April 24, 2010

    Glad to see this added but why is this not the default behavior?
    [Glad you asked. A couple of reasons:
    One, pasting in place automatically is problematic if the destination coordinates are not visible on screen. Pasting would have no apparent effect, except if you were watching the Layers panel. We could get into changing that behavior depending on whether the destination coordinates were visible, but that seems dicey.
    Two, pasting in the center of the document is well established behavior in most applications, including PS, and many times it’s desirable. Even if we made Paste remember coordinates (thus making it inconsistent with other apps), we’d probably then need to add a “Paste in Center” command, so the net number of commands would be the same. –J.]
    I think there are way more instances of wanting something in the same place vs. in some random place.

  • David Portela — 4:18 PM on April 24, 2010

    Interoperability for that command would be swell, I’d especially use it between PS and IL.

  • Julian Kussman — 4:21 PM on April 24, 2010

    I guess to clarify, in my UI design workflow, I never want to paste in center. I am always duplicating buttons or other elements and wanting to move them horizontally or vertically from the original.
    [Understood, and now you can just add Shift when pasting to preserve coordinates. –J.]
    Also, one of the first commands I add to Photoshop is CMD+OPT+G to duplicate a group or multiple layers. I can’t be the only one who needs this all the time.
    [The problem is that until someone adds letters to English or adds a foot pedal or something to one’s computer, we’re going to be short on keyboard shortcuts. –J.]

  • Pierre — 5:27 PM on April 24, 2010

    Sounds great!
    I’ve always missed the option of duplicate/clone an object in AI (as I could in Freehand) to be exactly in the same place. This “paste in place” will really be handy both for AI and Photoshop!

  • Andrew Phang — 6:40 PM on April 24, 2010

    Doesn’t Paste In Front in Illustrator do this?

  • Mark Alan Thomas — 7:12 PM on April 24, 2010

    Adobe should have a look at how well copy & paste works between Pages, Keynote and iWeb. The default behavior is to paste in place, and it works predictably even if the documents are different sizes.

  • Phil Brown — 7:51 PM on April 24, 2010

    I know there’s already “Option Overload” but this seems like one of the features that would benefit from an option to change the default behaviour.

  • gaspy — 11:16 PM on April 24, 2010

    This is definitely something good, as I use Paste in Place all the time in Flash.
    In the same vein, I’d like to propose a new addition for the next version:
    “New from Clipboard”. Currently, if you have a bitmap in clipboard and go to File –> New, the new image dimensions are preset to the size of that bitmap, and then you click OK and then Edit –> Paste. New from Clipboard would automate this, creating a new document with that bitmap as a layer.

  • thorsten wulff — 11:33 PM on April 24, 2010

    Excellent news, I commandshift-v in ID all the time!

  • Barry Pearson — 12:32 AM on April 25, 2010

    Yes, “New from Clipboard” would be very useful.

  • Shangara — 12:47 AM on April 25, 2010

    While New from Clipboard sounds like a good idea, current behaviour of automatically using clipboard for *every* new document is very hit and miss. Out of 10 new documents, Photoshop might get it right once or twice (YMMV). Defaulting to last new doc would be more useful. I can always select Clipboard *if* that’s what I want.

  • DrWatson — 1:09 AM on April 25, 2010

    Just to be sure: If I copy an object on artboard 1, go to artboard 3, select “Paste in place” – Illustrator will paste the copied object on artboard 3 with the same coordinates like on artboard 1?
    Until now, “Paste in foreground” (Cmd-F, don’t know the command’s name exactly), always places the copied object exactly at the same place (hence on the same artboard). If paste in place is “artboard-aware”, you just made my day…
    [Yep, you’ve got it exactly right. –J.]

  • Herman — 1:57 AM on April 25, 2010

    Yeah, along with paste behind! -would be practical to just copy those shortcuts (and their functionality ;)

  • Daniel — 2:05 AM on April 25, 2010

    isnt cmd + f in illustrator = paste in place available for a long time already? but nice to have it in ps too

  • Brian Spence — 2:09 PM on April 26, 2010

    In Illustrator, I always hit CTRL +F to paste it in front of the layer, which pastes it in place. CTRL + V just moves it down and to the right (I think) inexplicably. Why would anyone want to randomly place a pasted object is beyond me and one of those weird design decisions that nobody outside of Adobe can understand.
    [If the pasted artwork were dropped exactly on top of the copied artwork, people would be carping that “I can never tell whether I’ve actually pasted something, so I do it more than once,” etc. One could also argue that pasting something into the exact same coordinates is a minority case (don’t people normally copy/paste to move things among locations?). The point is that there are times and places for both approaches, and both are supported. –J.]

  • Douglas Bonneville — 10:59 AM on April 27, 2010

    “…If the pasted artwork were dropped exactly on top of the copied artwork, people would be carping that “I can never tell whether I’ve actually pasted something, so I do it more than once,”
    I’m more than willing to bet a flock of sheep there is no UI user testing data to back this up. It’s an anecdotal truth that in 20 years of design I have never met or heard of someone wanting paste in center. “Gee I wish this would just paste in center!”. In fact, I can recall many times hearing things like, on many applications, “why does it paste that way” or something similar. It seems the expected behavior is that pasting a copy should be…a copy! All attributes, etc. A copy is a copy.
    I bet you don’t have data the Fireworks users get confused, since copy paste in place is the default behavior. It’s much more intuitive and useful. If you can dig up any Freehand user testing data, I’d venture the same, that nobody ever got confused about paste in place vs paste offset or on center.
    To me, it always seems that the offset paste was a feature a programmer came up with, not a designer. Designers are keenly aware of their pasting actions.
    Anyway, very glad that it’s finally added. It’s one of the UI gripes I’ve had for years and years.

  • martin wright — 6:11 AM on May 29, 2010

    Still in CS4,
    Pasteboard tool’s change from crop tool in CS3 has created a mess of our workflow.
    Is there a way to return to the pasteboard location of the original document? We always need to paste in place across multiple designs toward the end of our production process and with the pasteboard location changed multiple times during design it’s now nearly impossible. No longer being able to “Print to PDF” is also a pain but we’ve adapted to that loss.
    I still miss Freehand.

  • Ario Probo — 3:31 AM on June 28, 2010

    why does my AI CS5 : paste in front & paste in place, ACT the same??
    in my AI CS4 it remember the coordinate of the ruler, why can’t i do that anymore?
    did i miss something?
    HELP Please…

  • Ant Gray — 10:02 PM on July 17, 2010

    It’s much easier to alt-drag layer, because pressing ctrl+shift+alt+v, it’s too hard with hand.

  • LuxAqu — 1:51 PM on August 18, 2010

    Wow nice feature for CS5! I really wish Adobe had some decent market competition! =D

  • Richard Lead — 9:21 AM on November 11, 2010

    It would be immensely useful and time saving to me if I could paste Illustrator paths “in place” into Photoshop, so as to easily preserve the coordinate relations between multiple paths being pasted into multiple layers.

  • Grasiano — 1:20 PM on November 13, 2010

    Now we just need to be better able to paste multiple objects AI, in multiple layers in PS.

  • Jason — 8:52 PM on December 04, 2010

    I’m with Ario here. I don’t mind having the new options, but I do mind (very much) the way that “Paste in Front” now works in CS5. “Paste in Place” gives me 2 new ways to do something I don’t need to do in the first place (3, if you count “Paste on All Artboards”), in exchange for losing the best way to do something I need to do very frequently.

    – Paste in Front should always paste an item in front of the exact place from which it was cut/copied—regardless of which artboard is selected at the time of pasting. I often use(d) this functionality so I could cut an object, perform a dozen other things, and reliably paste what I’d cut right back in the spot from where it was cut. Now, I can’t do that unless I’ve got the same artboard selected?

    – Paste in Place sounds useful for a lot of people, so congrats to them. However, PIP and PIF seem to do the exact same thing! In fact, I’ve run through a series of tests and have yet to uncover the difference. If I’ve cut/copied an object, PIF pastes that object in the exact same place as PIP—both, pasting relative to the currently-selected artboard, according to the position of the selected artboard at the time of cutting/copying.

    What is the difference between this commands???

  • Jason — 9:32 PM on December 04, 2010

    addendum to that last post:

    The official documentation for this topic is a total joke. Let’s consider each of the statements in this section:

    • FALSE: “The Paste in Place command pastes artwork on the active artboard.” (“on” should be “relative to…” since it only pastes *on* if the object which was cut/copied was on an artboard.)
    • OK/DUH: “To use this command, click Edit > Paste in Place. “The keyboard shortcut is Ctrl+Shift+V (Windows) or Cmd+Shift+V (Mac).”

    • FALSE: “The Paste on All Artboards command pastes the selected artwork on all the artboards.” (see note above re: “paste in place”)
    • MYSTERIOUS: “Before using the Paste on All Artboards command, make sure that the artboard from which you are copying the object, is the active artboard.” (There is no explanation as to why one should “make sure.”)

    • OK/DUH: “To use the Paste on All Artboards command, click Edit > Paste on All Artboards…”
    • HUH? “…when you cut or copy the artwork.” (The conclusion of this sentence is confusing since it’s inconsistent with similar language about the PiP command, and it adds no value.)

    • REPEATED FALSEHOOD: “If you copy artwork, and then select Paste on All Artboards, the artwork is repasted on the artboard from where it is copied.” (This is statement is a repetitive and false, as noted above.)
    • HUH??? (Recommended) Cut and then paste objects if you do not need to modify the original objects before using the Paste on All Artboards command. (Utterly nonsensical, as far as I can tell)

    • TRUTH!: “Note: Paste in Place and Paste on All Artboards commands paste the object at the same position as the copied objects referenced from the active artboard at the time of copying.” (While in your quest for understanding these commands/behaviors, if you’ve managed to survive the confusing language above—much of it obviously false, since you’ve probably come looking for help after experiencing unexpected behavior that runs counter to those statements—you finally get this nugget of usefulness. There is no asterisk in the above statements indicating additional clarification that can be found in this statement.)

    ••• In summary: 3 false statements (one, a repeat), 1 mysterious recommendation lacking any context or explanation, 1 statement that’s completely nonsensical, and one helpful/true statement offered only to those who have survived long enough to read it. “Help” this is not. :-/

  • Jay Harlow — 2:14 PM on July 20, 2011

    Those doubting the usefulness of Paste-in-Center: I came upon this thread via a Google query for just that. I keep one production file of elements that each consist of two layers, a fill and a stroke. I create these in Illustrator, and paste them into PS, and they need to be pasted on-center to align.

    Unfortunately, I’m finding that CS 5.5 actually does *not* paste in center correctly, which is how I ended up Googling the issue. In my file, the Paste command places each layer off-center, differently. I haven’t been able to figure out a system for it, and I’m probably just going to have to change my workflow.

    John, a preference to reset that behavior, or at least a Paste in Center command would be extremely helpful.

  • asd — 2:22 PM on April 24, 2012

    How absolutely alarmingly fucking pathetic that it has taken PS this long to have the basic functionality found in software like GIMP…. good lord.

    Next maybe they can find some way to develop scissor tool for After Effects… since that functionality is only available in premiere.

    Adobe is horrifically behind the times for being an “industry standard” unreal.

  • Nathan — 3:04 PM on June 12, 2012

    The changes to paste in front in CS5 single-handedly destroyed 10+ years of templates and muscle memory. I’d roll back to CS4 except our design partners like to be on the bleeding-edge and are already on CS6.

    Just awful.

    • April Berardi — 6:37 PM on May 25, 2013

      Yes!!! I agree completely. Muscle memory for a decade and now the shortcuts do different things.
      I have been using the same keyboard shortcuts since PS version 7, and this has eaten up hours of my time trying to figure out how to paste an object into a selection, and create a mask from the selection for that layer.

      Can anyone point me to the new keyboard shortcut to accomplish this?
      In other words, what did the old “cmd+shft+v” change TO?

      Thanks, in advance for any help. :)

  • Pen — 12:31 AM on June 21, 2012

    Hi There,

    I have copy a sentence by Ctrl + C and I paste in front by Ctrl + F, the font type, size and position are different with the original sentence. Any one can help please?

Copyright © 2020 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use | Privacy Policy and Cookies (Updated)