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When pasting text, some applications (Chrome, Microsoft Office, etc.) will do what they can to re-render copied text with style, and some of those applications do not appear to offer an option to paste without style.

This results in spending lots of time removing formatting (where it is even possible) and then cleaning up the mess left behind, just to get clean text.

I want to prevent text styling from attaching itself to text that I copy and paste between applications. Is there an OS-level way to do this, i.e. one that can apply to all applications? Failing that, is there a per-application way to tell Chrome, Safari, Word etc. not to copy and/or paste with style?

  • Unadorned, clear text. No style. – Alex Reynolds Apr 25 '14 at 1:13
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O/S X does have a "universal" key combination to paste without any style, it's SHIFT-COMMAND-OPTION-V

Unfortunately Microsoft uses their own text engine rather than the Mac's built-in one so that does not work there. The only options I have found for word is to create a Macro to paste plain text. You could download one of this but the one's I found were for the PC version and I never got them to work in the Mac version.

But I just find it easier to paste it into a plain text editor (I use Bbedit or TextWrangler, the free version.) Then copy and paste that into my word document. Annoying but it works for me.

I believe there are a number of clipboard utilities that will do what you ask. A quick visit to macupdate.com should help with that.

  • For Google Docs this works without the text editor. Thank you for the shortcut. – Michael S. Mar 5 '17 at 9:10
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You can use the edit option Paste and Match Style which actually works by inserting copied text as plain text. By doing so, you can just copy and paste without the notes detour in your work-around. The default shortcut is ⌥⇧⌘V (ALT/SHIFT/CMD-V) but see below how to configure a simpler one.

Some applications provide the same functionality, but name it differently in their edit menu. For these, you can add an entry to App Shortcuts with those applications' different Menu Title but with the same shortcut.

To do so

  1. go to System preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > App Shortcuts
  2. click the plus button to add a new shortcut
  3. select All Applications
  4. enter the app's Menu Title for pasting unformatted text
  5. enter the Keyboard Shortcut by pressing the keys (at the same time)

The default shortcut ⌥⇧⌘V requires quite some finger artistic skills. To set up a simpler shortcut, just follow the above steps but enter a different key combination. For example, I use ⌥⌘V (ALT/CMD-V) which is similar to the original shortcut, but much easier to handle.

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Alternately, AppleScript can type the clipboard for you.

tell application "System Events" to keystroke (the clipboard)

Save that and bind it to a keyboard shortcut, using something like FastScripts or Alfred, and you have a nifty way to paste plain text. As an added bonus, it works in this pesky forms that refuse to let you paste.

As an example for Alfred,

on alfred_script(q)
   try
      the clipboard as text
      display notification "Success! The clipboard has been typed."
   on error
      display notification "Error typing the clipboard."
   end try

   tell application "System Events"
      keystroke (the clipboard as text)
   end tell
end alfred_script

It'll even show a notification when it's done!

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I use Keyboard Maestro to manage my function key. I write the applescript below which I bind to function key F3.

on run
    try
        set fromUnix to do shell script "pbpaste -Prefer ascii | pbcopy "
    on error errMsg
        log " error..." & errMsg
    end try

end run

enter image description here

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