First I would like to preface I found a work around for my issue but I am curious if anyone knows what might be causing it.

So in my case I have tab delimited data in VS and I pasted it into excel. As soon as it's pasted in to excel the tabs are condensed to spaces. (Fixed it by saving the my data as a CSV file and copy and pasting back into my excel doc) I tried moving the data in to textedit and the same thing occurred. So I am wondering is this an OS setting on Mac? what would be causing this?

  • Doesn't have anything to do with the OS. Clipboard data comes from the sourced application in a variety of formats and interpreted by the destination application. So you'd want to look at why Excel doesn't treat tabs as field delimiters. May 24 at 18:13
  • The correct way is to import the file into Excel and not paste it. Pasting treats it all as text and has no idea of field delimiters that import does.
    – mmmmmm
    May 24 at 18:17

1 Answer 1


The OS does not interfere with the contents of the clipboard.

Both the source application and the target application can handle file contents as they see fit.

In this case, it seems like Excel is interpreting the tabs as spaces when you paste. If Excel provides no setting for this, then there is no way around it as the OS is not modifying the contents.

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