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Apple is too strict with copy and paste in iOS 16

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Where’s my “always allow” option, Apple? | Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

In the time I’ve been using iOS 16 so far, I’ve generally been very happy with the new features and improvements. The customizable lock screen is nice. Removing the background from images by holding down the subject of a photo still hasn’t gotten old. But just a few days after the new software rolled out, I’ve already discovered my biggest frustration: iOS now asks if it’s okay to paste an item from one app to another. Continual. Again and again.

There must be a better solution than this.

i understand the Why behind the new prompt. Your iPhone’s clipboard often contains sensitive data: passwords, personal photos, two-factor passcodes, and so on. Apps are probably inheriting this information more often than we realize. And this is another example of Apple adhering to its privacy mantra: ask people in plain English if they want apps to access their information. Ask them repeatedly.

But the new prompt adds friction where it never existed before. It inherently makes copying and pasting less seamless. For example, if I cut out the subject of an image in Photos, copy it, and paste it into some text in Messages, I’m hit by the permissions dialog. Every time. The same goes for pasting something into Notes.

A screenshot of the
Screenshot: Chris Welch / The Verge
I shouldn’t have to approve this every time. only. time.

These are the main iPhone applications, and while it’s appropriate for Apple to apply its rules universally, I also find myself frustrated thinking, “Yeah, naturally you can paste this photo in a message. Why wouldn’t it be? Enough already.” We’re talking about a basic, common action flow, and now there’s a hurdle in the middle. Why does Apple double check what’s clear user intent and a direct command?

The goal of preventing apps from snooping on your clipboard is reasonable. But it’s certainly possible for Apple to include “always allow” in the choices so people don’t have to constantly see this screen. Or the company could add a “pasteboard” toggle to the privacy settings for each app, just like it does for location, notifications, background data, and so on. Just give us some way to establish permanence for our copy and paste preferences.

The popup is so common that I almost wonder if it is a bug and not the intended behavior. And sometimes – like when pasting into Slack – it doesn’t show up at all. Nothing has changed in the first betas of iOS 16.1 so far, but I hope Apple will refine this interaction sooner rather than later.

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