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

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

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)
      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!


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) which requires quite some finger artistic skills. To set up a simpler shortcut

  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 "Paste and Match Style" as the Menu Title
  5. Enter your preferred Keyboard Shortcut – for example, I use ⌥⌘V (ALT/CMD-V) which is similar to the original shortcut, but much easier to handle

Note that this shortcut will work for all applications that support Paste and Match Style in their edit menu. However, that should be most applications you have.

Some applications provide the same functionality, but name it differently in their edit menu. For these, you can simply add another entry with their different Menu Title for the same shortcut, allowing you to use your favorite keyboard shortcut in all applications.

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