After the update to Mavericks (10.9), anything copied from Terminal is pasted in the target app with the same formatting as in Terminal, in my case, white monospaced letters on a black background, e.g.:


(I pasted some text from Terminal into a New Mail window.)

Previously (10.8 and earlier) only plain text was copied, without any formatting at all.

This happens in apps that are capable of receiving rich text formatting. In plain text apps, e.g. TextWrangler or TextEdit in plain text mode, only the content is copied, of course.

Can formatting copying be disabled for the Terminal app?

The same happens in Yosemite (10.10) and El Capitan (10.11) as well.

  • 2
    Use iTerm2 - the usual comment when somone has a Terminal issue :) or write emails in Plain text not rich text.
    – mmmmmm
    Nov 5, 2013 at 17:59
  • I do not believe that formatting of copied text can be disabled. My solution was to install the app Flycut which is a clipboard manager that will remove formatting from text copied from any application. Nov 5, 2013 at 18:04
  • 1
    @Mark It's not just about emails, it's about any rich text app. Nov 5, 2013 at 18:13
  • @pilsetnieks any particular reason you un accepted this 4.1/2 months later :-O. Do you need more help?
    – markhunte
    Mar 10, 2014 at 22:18
  • @markhunte Sorry, your answer is still very valid and appreciated, it's just that Tim K's answer answers the question exactly. I hadn't seen the answer until I revisited the question yesterday, since it was posted 3 months after asking. Mar 11, 2014 at 10:25

4 Answers 4


You can disable copy/pasting the formatting from Terminal by changing the com.apple.Terminal preferences file.

Open Terminal on your Mac and enter the following command: defaults write com.apple.Terminal CopyAttributesProfile com.apple.Terminal.no-attributes

This will strip all text attributes out of copy/pasting from Terminal

  • To confirm, it is the same process as above in macOS Sierra. Nov 12, 2016 at 0:02
  • To revert defaults write com.apple.Terminal CopyAttributesProfile com.apple.Terminal.attributes. Dec 13, 2018 at 5:48

Just use 'Paste Matching Style'

enter image description here

Which will keep the formatting as the same as the insertion point

So instead off:

enter image description here

You would get:

enter image description here

  • 4
    Yeah, "paste and match style" works, I was just hoping for a solution that wouldn't involve relearning keyboard shortcuts. Nov 5, 2013 at 18:15

In El Capitan, you can set the formatting in Terminal app. Simply select Edit -> Copy Special and select Plain Text for no formatting or you can create a profile that looks good when pasted in a document.

  • 4
    This should be the top answer at least for El Capitan and above.
    – akhan
    Jan 13, 2017 at 20:44

You can configure a global keyboard shortcut as described in this post: http://ask.metafilter.com/187733/OSX-How-to-copy-plaintext-always-everywhere-without-exception

This solved it for me. I am working on a big visio diagram and I need to copy stuff from terminal and paste it into visio a few hundred times a day - so this change in 10.9 was a big blow for me.

  • Note that using this method I can no longer paste text into Apple Mail Subject, URL or Contact fields on Mavericks.
    – MikeiLL
    Jun 25, 2015 at 20:11
  • The mentioned link is broken. Jan 10 at 13:25

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