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Tips for Copy/Paste in Visio 2010 (Including How to Copy a Page)

Tips for Copy/Paste in Visio 2010 (Including How to Copy a Page)

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One of the things we all do a lot is reuse shapes or groups of shapes in several places and often the best way to do that is to Copy the existing shape and Paste it elsewhere. Even though you use it daily, there may be some behavior you’re not familiar with, especially with the Copy/Paste improvements in Visio 2010. So, here is a brief summary...

Where to find it

Copy and Paste is available in more than one way. Depending on your normal workflow and the result you want, you may want to use some or all of them.

The Ribbon,

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the context menu,

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and from the keyboard using CTRL+C to copy and CTRL+V to paste.

Pasting using the context menu, will always paste the object at your mouse cursor location, with the center of the shape where your cursor was when you right-clicked. This can be very useful when you want to copy items to specific places in your diagram.

Paste from either the Ribbon or using CTRL+V will paste the new object at the location of the object you originally copied. If you are pasting on the same page, the object will be offset slightly, to avoid “losing” it.

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If you paste something onto a separate page and use CTRL+V or the Ribbon control, this puts the pasted object in the same location that it was on the original page. This can be very useful for ensuring that parts of a diagram are in the same location on multiple pages.

Duplicating with Drag

A quick way to make copies of selected items is to hold down CTRL and the left mouse button. This lets you drag a copy of the selected item to a specific location. This allows you to make multiple copies of a shape or a group of shapes you’ve selected very quickly.

Hint: This works with grouped shapes or multi-selected shapes, so it’s a really quick way to reuse a group of shapes in multiple locations on a page.

Duplicating from the Ribbon

You can also duplicate objects that are selected using the Duplicate option in the Ribbon. Click on the arrow below the Paste icon to show the Duplicate option. Clicking on it will make a duplicate of the selected object or objects and drop them near the original, offset slightly, just like CTRL+V does on paste.

Hint: Note that if you duplicate multiple objects some of them may end up covering up the originals. As an example, if I selected the two rectangles above and did a Duplicate, the result might look like the example below. Though you can’t see it, there are really four shapes here, but one is exactly below the brightly highlighted shape. Hitting one of the arrow keys a few times while the newly duplicated items are still selected will move them enough to expose the shape underneath.

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Copying a page

Since pasting using CTRL+V or the Ribbon will place objects on the same location on other pages, it becomes much easier to make a copy of a whole page.

First, insert a new page. You can either add a page by clicking the “add page” icon on the last page tab, or by clicking a page and right-clicking to insert a page immediately after it.

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Once you’ve got a new page, go back to the page you want to copy. You can drag-select the whole page by left-clicking at one corner of the diagram and dragging the selection to the opposite corner. You can also select everything on a page by pressing CTRL+A. With everything on the page selected, copy it by using CTRL+C, or Copy from the right-click menu or the Ribbon. Navigate to the blank page you created, and press CTRL+V or click on Paste in the Ribbon (Remember that if you use Paste from the right-click context menu, everything will be pasted with the center around your mouse position, so the new page may not look like you expect). That’s it, a duplicate page in just a few clicks.

Hint: if you want to duplicate a whole page with the exception of one or two shapes, CTRL+A to select everything and then CTRL+left mouse click to deselect just the object you don’t want. Then you can CTRL+V everything else to the new page.

Pasting to other Office applications

Of course, Office applications “play nicely” with each other, so you can paste objects you’ve copied from Visio to other applications, as well. In most applications your pasted Visio objects will remain Visio objects and you can still edit them by double-clicking. This can be very useful when you want to be able to fine-tune a diagram in a Word document or a PowerPoint slide.

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Hint: If you would prefer the diagram not be editable, you can use the Paste Special option to paste it as a static image. You can find Paste Special on the menu that drops down when you click the arrow below Paste in the Home Tab.

Happy pasting

Those are the basics of Copy/Paste.

Post a comment if you have any other tips you’d like to share and please let us know if you have any feedback on Visio 2010, Visio Services, or suggestions for other blog posts you would like to see.

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  • Please add 3 and 8 and type the answer here:
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  • The fact that anyone has to come here to figure out how to do this, is proof that Office 2010 Sucks!!!

  • unbelievable when you copy a shape in visio 2010 standard it doesn't copy the dimensions. what a pos!

  • How do you make Visio keep the same aspect ratio and font size of the object your are copying? When you copy something and paste it, it looses all formatting of the copied object.

  • It used to be a simple task to copy an entire page (including any background) into the clipboard, and then paste it into a word document. It seems that this is no longer possible with 2010... or did I miss something?

  • Does anyone know how to prevent a column from resizing itself?  Auto resize is off yet I can't make the column a width of 1.25.  It keeps going back to 1.7688.  I can't take this version much longer--I copy and paste all the time but this version is screwing with my standard sizes!

  • It's bad enough that the pasted object is dropped light years from the part of the screen you're looking at (as in older versions), but the arrow keys move the object at a glacial pace.  The arrow keys are useful because sometimes, the object(s) only need to move in one dimension.

  • Does someone care to answer the fundamental issues raised here. If I copy a box with three lines of text in it and take it to another page [or sheet as would be the case with excel], two of the lines are not copied and one has to type them again. Can you add a feature to duplicate a page then I can take out what i do not want in the new page [duplicate] or make the paste feature work like in other office applications so that one doesn't lose data on pasting. it is so time consuming. This paste function only works well if you are copying something in the same page.

  • Spacing options:

    My current problem at Visio 2010 is not loosing the composition at copy-paste or unwanted auto-glue. My problem is auto-spacing. I cannot switch auto-spacing off. Is there any trick? There is a menu item: Home > Arrnge > Position > Spacing Options... But whatever value below 0.2953 inch I choose it allows me to click OK, but when I look the value up at Spacing Options again it is still at 0.2953 inch.

    Anyone can help me?

  • I was trying to copy layers onto a new visio page.

    This is how I accomplished it.

    1. Made a new page.

    2. Inserted my drawing onto that page.

    3. Went back to page 1 turn off the layer (visible) of oringal drawing

    4. Click OK.

    5. Copy

    6. Highlighted what needed to be copied over to new page.

    7. Went to new page.

    8. Paste

  • Wow, this copy and paste behavior is terrible.  Quite frankly, what clown thought this up?!?  I am starting with a new laptop that has Visio 2010.  It so unusable to me (and yes, I am reading help and trying to learn the updates - which is why I am here) but am running out of patience. This terrible copy and paste behavior may be the last straw.  Using CTRL-C and then CTRL-V should drop the object where I am looking right now.  Having to use the mouse to go to the ribbon to use the PASTE there is an incredible waste of time and effort - to the point I ask "What clown thought this up?"

    Going back to Visio 2007 is looking attractive or maybe I should go ahead and learn how to use Illustrator...

    Give us a fix for this terrible behavior!

  • FYI everyone - Microsoft will not respond to anything related to this garbage paste behavior in any forum anywhere.  Just revert to Visio 2007 like our company did and you'll be happy as a clam again.  We are an IT company and an MS partner but we have actively been recommending that customers do not update to Visio 2010 primarily for this reason but for a couple others as well.  

    For those that have already upgraded, an irate call directly from the customer to MS can often get you a free key for a reinstall of 2007.

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