Copy and paste

I find myself having to use the following workaround almost once a day. Suppose you’re writing an email and want to paste in a snippet of text from another window. You select the text, copy it to the clipboard, and then paste it into the mail window. But there’s a problem. The original text was formatted with size, color and whitespace. Your software attempts to preserve this formatting but the end result is jarring: the fonts are too big, or too small, or the whitespace interrupts the flow of your letter. You just want the text but that’s not what you’re getting. Here’s what I do: I open up a plain text editor, such as Notepad on Windows, and paste the text into it first, stripping the formatting. Then I re-select the unformatted text and copy it to the clipboard. It works, but is clunky. Is there no better way?

7 thoughts on “Copy and paste”

  1. On Windows, take a look at ArsClip ( I originally installed this to take advantage of its multiple clipboards, but it will solve your problem, too.

    After copying the text, you would hit the hot key to show the clipboard list and then (w/o really having to look at the list) hit “1” to choose the most recently copied item. The hot key is configurable (ctrl-shift-Z by default).

    It’s not quite as easy as a simple ctrl-V, but it’s easier than what you currently do.


  2. Thanks for the suggestions! Ole, I tried ALT-E-S, but it just brings up the Firefox Edit menu and then bloops out because there’s no menu option to go with S.


  3. Thanks also Doug and Donovan, I’ll check those tools out. Unless I find a built-in command sequence first…


  4. Depending on the program you are pasting into, you may have a “Paste Special” option. Often this will be implemented with a “text” option, which should strip all the formatting. I use this with Outlook often for this very purpose.


  5. Rick, good point! I mainly use Thunderbird (email) and Firefox (blog authoring). Firefox doesn’t have any special options but Thunderbird has “Paste Without Formatting”. Heh, Ctrl-V is so hardwired into my brain that it didn’t occur to me to check the menu. Thanks!


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