I'm copying a slab of plain text that contains URLs into an RTF file in TextEdit, which I am hoping to automatically, (as there are a lot of them in the text), 'linkify' into rich text hyperlinks - make them clickable, and underlined in blue or as per the default appearance.

In WordPad on Windows, if you paste plain text, WordPad will automatically linkify any links, but TextEdit, Word 2011, and Pages on the Mac all will not.

I've also tried to export the text to PDF in TextEdit, Word 11 and Pages and fiddled around with Tools in Acrobat Pro itself - all to no avail.

An AppleScript would be fun, but (even if hooked into FastScripts), still not as quick or elegant as Windows' WordPad's instant and automatic linkification of URLs upon insertion into a document.

Is there something this elegant in OS X?


2 Answers 2


To convert multiple plain text URLs to hyperlinks in a rich text file in TextEdit, you must apply an action.

After pasting the text, go to Edit > Substitutions > Show Substitutions, making sure 'Smart Links' is ticked, and either select the text and use 'Replace in Selection' or use 'Replace All' to apply to whole document itself:

smart links


I pasted same text twice for demonstration.

After pasting I selected the second paragraph (only for demonstration) and used the Smart Links - Replace in Selection:



The plain-text format does not support rich-text formating like blue, underlining, or indeed linking. It only supports unformattedplain text. You can press Command+Shift +T in TextEdit to toggle between rich-text and Plain text format.

Rich-text mode will allow you to use formatting and linking.

Now, as for linking things you have copied into your clipboard. Any block of text containing formatting (bold, linking, etc.) from most web browsers (Safari, Opera, Chrome) will retain all of this information when you paste it into TextEdit.

For smart links, as mentioned by another user, to work, you have to actually type out the link in TextEdit. You can “hack it” by searching for ”.com ” and replacing it in your document with “.com ”. I have had to do it twice while testing now for it to work. Not sure what is up with that.

  • Not so: plain-text format does support hyperlinks.
    – duozmo
    Aug 1, 2015 at 18:25
  • That is absurd. Plain-text is just plain-text. Henec the name. There is no formatting or interactivity supported.
    – Daniel
    Aug 2, 2015 at 3:35
  • i.stack.imgur.com/4X22Z.png
    – duozmo
    Aug 2, 2015 at 20:29
  • That is a system Data Detector who recognize the string as a link and not a property of the document in any way.
    – Daniel
    Aug 3, 2015 at 21:03
  • Sure, but we're talking about TextEdit
    – duozmo
    Aug 3, 2015 at 21:17

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