Pasting Unformatted Text on OS X

One of the few default settings that genuinely annoy me on Mac OS X is the tendency for Apple software to retain source formatting when copy and pasting. This can be particularly annoying in Keynote (since pasted formatted text is incredibly small) and in Mail.app.

There are two solutions.

  • Set Command-V to paste unformatted text all the time:

    Simply follow this tip which sets a system-wide keyboard shortcut for Command-V to trigger the menu item “Paste and Match Formatting.”

    May not work in all apps, but it should work in most. When it doesn’t, you can use the first tip.

  • Manual workaround each time:

    Use the “Paste and Match Formatting” menu option, or the following keystroke sequence:

    Paste into Spotlight search, select it, copy it (unformatted), then paste. This even works for multi-line text.

    1. Command-Space (or whatever you have Spotlight set to).
    2. Command-V for paste. (The text is now unformatted).
    3. Command-A to select all.
    4. Command-C to copy that unformatted text.
    5. Command-Space to close Spotlight. (Focus returns to whichever app you were in previously.)
    6. Command-V to paste unformatted text.

    It looks like a lot of work but it is actually very, very quick for me. (I type in Dvorak, but I don’t think that makes a big difference here.)


July 30th, 2009
Alan Hogan (@alanhogan).  Contact · About