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(Similar to my earlier question about Windows XP and darren_n's follow-up for Mac OS X.)

I regularly copy and paste text between spreadsheets, emails, browser windows, etc. I can't think of a single time when I've wanted to keep the formatting from the source text.

I already know about the following workarounds:

  • In OpenOffice, click Edit > Paste Special or press Ctrl+Shift+V, then click Unformatted Text
  • Paste to Text Editor and copy from there

What I want is to tell Ubuntu to just do this by default.

Is this possible?

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You'd have to modify the way the clipboard works, or the copying functionality of every application ever. Have you tried any alternative clipboard managers? – l0b0 Mar 5 '12 at 11:17

In Ubuntu 11.04 and higher I can use Ctrl-Shift-V to paste plain text.

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This works in 12.04 as well. – Corey Mar 12 '13 at 22:15
do you know if/where we can customize this shortcut? – chrismarx Apr 4 '14 at 18:28

Personnally I use an intermediate editor window (nedit) that would'nt support formatting. That's far from ideal though.

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Select your text with the mouse (highlight it), then middle click where you want to paste

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I just tried that - copied from this question to OpenOffice. It pasted formatted text. – Nathan Long Jul 24 '09 at 11:59
You're confusing things. Openoffice decides to paste the text formatted. What you highlight gets copied as plain text, always. The question is not about the OS, but about the OpenOffice suite. – Adriano Varoli Piazza Jul 24 '09 at 12:02
Remember, there is no such thing as plain text. – Stefan Thyberg Jul 24 '09 at 12:05
@Adriano - I AM confused. If the text were copied as plain text into memory, the formatting would have been removed before OpenOffice ever saw it, right? – Nathan Long Jul 24 '09 at 12:11
@Stefan - specifically, I want the pasted text to share the formatting of the destination text, not the source text. – Nathan Long Jul 24 '09 at 12:13

You should use the select - middleclick action, which on Unix only copies text (and this is cited as a drawback when promoting real copy-paste of rich objects).

What happens (I'm guessing a bit, but I'm fairly sure I'm right) is that OpenOffice recognizes characters in a similar fashion to Markdown (actually, the other way round: OO came first), and formats them.

For example, in OO, if you start typing "* text" and press Enter, you start an unordered bulleted list. Typing - text gets you a bulleted list starting with emdash. 1. text starts an ordered list. All automatically.

So what I mean is that this is not an Ubuntu problem, but the Office Suite trying to DWYM. Which, really, seems the best course here. If I copied your question into OO, I'd prefer the formatting to remain, otherwise I'd copy it into e.g. Vim.

Finally, there are some helpful tips here (basically, add a macro that does what you want, assign it to a key combination of your choice). This should work no matter the OS.

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