How to paste text without formatting on a Mac

Just the characters, please, no styles.

cut copy paste mac

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Because we use styled text in so many places in macOS (including when copying something from a web page), it’s easy to wind up frustrated when you want to paste it into a document or an email without carrying along its original (or a similar) font, type size, italics or Roman, indents, bullet list items, or other elements.

Here are several ways to copy styled text and then paste it without formatting.

Use the Paste and Match Style menu item in Apple apps. Most Apple software that supports adding text lets you choose Edit > Paste and Match Style, which strips most formatting from the text on the clipboard and matches whatever style is in place at the insertion point at which you paste. However, while it removes some styling, it doesn’t  remove all of it.

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Word offers an option paste unformatted text.

In Microsoft Word, use one of several paste commands. Word offers Edit > Paste and Match Formatting, similar to Pages and other Apple software. But it also has the Edit > Paste Special set of options, which includes Unformatted Text. This strips all rich-text attributes.

Use a text-only editor to paste, then copy the results. Many apps don’t support rich-text formatting. Pasting text into one of those apps strips all styles and fonts. You can then copy that same section of text, and it’s unstyled. Ironically, the macOS-bundled TextEdit doesn’t offer an option to edit…just the text. Instead, try BBEdit. (While it downloads as a 30-day free trial for the paid version, after 30 days it remains free to use, just with a more restrained set of text-editing features.)

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Using Pastebot, you can strip formatting among other filters.

Get Pastebot. The Pastebot utility from Tapbots received a five-mouse review from me in 2016, and it remains a constant part of my daily routine. You can set a keyboard shortcut to paste the current clipboard as plain, unformatted text, something I do 50 times a day. And you can set other shortcuts or use a filter feature to reformat text on the clipboard before it’s pasted.

This Mac 911 article is in response to a question submitted by a Macworld reader.

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