My problem: I copy something from a webpage or Illustrator, then paste it into an email or another Illustrator document and the styles are carried over from the original doc when I just want the text to conform to the format of the new document.

Is there a way to force macOS to copy and paste to only read the plaintext of my selection?

  • FYI, dragging text from Firefox pastes unstyled. Sep 23, 2013 at 20:31

10 Answers 10


Usually, OS X applications allow you to paste without style using V. This is not necessarily supported everywhere though.

If you simply want to get plain text from whatever was in the clipboard, and then put it in the clipboard again, you could for example run the following command from a Terminal:

pbpaste | pbcopy

This will get rid of rich text formatting. You could probably wrap this in a Service using Automator.app to have it accessible via keyboard shortcut.

  • Hmm, now if I could just run this as a shell script every time I copy something from Illustrator....
    – nipponese
    Nov 29, 2012 at 18:33
  • 11
    There's an answer, thanks to the Keyboard & Mouse pane in System Preferences. If you click the Keyboard Shortcuts tab, you can assign "Paste Without Formatting" and/or "Paste and Match Style" to Command + V for all applications. tuaw.com/2009/07/07/…
    – Ian Atkin
    Nov 29, 2012 at 18:43
  • @IanAtkin That only works if the application supports this special paste mode in the first place.
    – slhck
    Nov 29, 2012 at 18:55
  • @nipponese No idea how to set that up to be honest, sorry. But in theory, does that approach work?
    – slhck
    Nov 29, 2012 at 19:02
  • @slhck Unfortunately I need the output to paste into Adobe Illustrator and there isn't a supported special paste command.
    – nipponese
    Nov 29, 2012 at 19:44

I'm extremely happy to have found a way to do it without using crazy shortcuts (that would annoy me more than the formatted text).

As mmdei is writing at http://ask.metafilter.com/187733/OSX-How-to-copy-plaintext-always-everywhere-without-exception

Open 'System Preferences'

Select 'Keyboard'

Select tab 'Keyboard Shortcuts'

Select 'Application Shortcuts' from the left listbox Click '+' below right listbox

Select 'All Applications' for 'Application' input box Type 'Paste and Match Style' into the 'Menu Title' input box In the 'Keyboard Shortcut' input box, pretend that you are about to paste something by typing command-v. There should now be the cloverleaf command sign followed by a -v in this box. Click add.

Victory! Thanks. I should have done this myself a decade ago. =)


in case you need to paste formatted text, use right click - Paste.

  • 3
    Great answer! Small problem I faced: if you have UI language different from English, instead of "Paste and Match Style" you have to type the name of the menu item in your language.
    – yaskovdev
    Jan 3, 2018 at 5:17
  • To find name of the menu item in your language: (1) open any app with "Edit" menu equivalent like Apple Notes, Safari, Text Editor, etc., (2) open this menu and see what is visible just under "Paste" equivalent. I have, for example "Wklej i dostosuj styl". Feb 7, 2019 at 9:35
  • Still sucks, because while it matches the font, it KEEPS the formatting such as bold, colors.
    – Micah B.
    Mar 12, 2020 at 17:22

As @slhck pointed out in their answer, V is a useful key combination that will "Paste and Match Style" in a number of apps, such as Safari, TextEdit, Mail, Messages, Notes, and even Microsoft Word (well, it does a "Paste and Match Formatting" in Word, but the result is identical as far as I can tell). One annoyance of Word's approach is that if the text you've copied is not itself styled, the V combination does nothing. So that's an obstacle to relying on V to always paste unstyled text. (In Apple apps, V will conveniently mimic V if the text is unstyled.)

As far as I can tell, of Adobe CS 6, only InDesign has a "Paste without Formatting" option (V; it uses V for "Paste in Place"). Although you could change those keystrokes with the help of System Preferences > Keyboard > Keyboard Shortcuts, that won't help you in Illustrator.

Thus, for a more all-inclusive solution, here are two methods, the first fast and graceful and the other quick and dirty.

  1. Install a program that offers clipboard management (of which there are many). For example, I use the free, simple, open-source app FlyCut, which as far as I can tell always pastes unstyled text. If you adopt this solution, it sounds like you might be interested in turning off the "Sticky bezel" (in FlyCut Preferences > General) and setting your hotkey to something like V (that's option+V) or CtrlV (in FlyCut Preferences > Hotkeys). As long as those keystrokes aren't already in use for another app, the result will be that your new two-key combination will paste unstyled text system-wide. (I could not get V to work properly with FlyCut, however, but other clipboard manager apps may do better—you could try Alfred, Quicksilver, ClipMenu, or others, though I don't know that all paste unstyled text only as with FlyCut.)
  2. For a quick-and-dirty way of clearing the styles from copied text, you can paste copied text with styles into a web browser's address bar and then copy/cut out of the address bar (although this trick should work with any field that only accepts plain text only). This works with the Safari, Chrome, and Firefox address bars (at least). Of course, this approach is far less elegant and more time-consuming than relying on a solution like #1, but it has the advantage of being easy and feasible on nearly any computer, even one you can't / don't want to install new software on.
  • Thank you for mentioning FlyCut, it is working great for me. Sep 16, 2013 at 17:43

Many applications (like Alfred) that provide a clipboard history only keep the plain text versions of copied items. So you can paste from clipboard history when the frontmost application doesn't support +++V.

Another option would be to assign a shortcut to a script like this:

set the clipboard to (the clipboard)

You could also try creating ~/Library/KeyBindings/ and saving a property list like this as DefaultKeyBinding.dict:

    "~@V" = pasteAsPlainText:;

It doesn't work in Illustrator though. Most applications that support custom keybindings and rich text also have a menu bar item for pasting as plain text.


To add to @IanAtkin comment, in “System Prefs -> Keyboard -> Shortcuts,” under ”App Shortcuts, All Applications,” you can add the following:

  • "Paste and Match Formatting" = Command+V
  • "Paste and Match Style" = Command+V

It's funny, but I had to add both. The former works in MS Word and the latter works in Evernote. Thus, if it's not working for some application, you can probably look under Edit menu and see what they call the non-formatted pasting that you want.

I also like to add:

  • "Paste" = Shift +Command+V

So I can paste with formatting.

  • The irony: you can't paste into the text area for the name of the command. You have to type it exactly as it is in the answer here.
    – jcollum
    Apr 12 at 16:20
  • This one did work for me and I appreciate the addition of the other shortcut for pasting WITH formatting.
    – jcollum
    Apr 12 at 16:21

Command+Shift+V instead of Command+V.

It is working in my MacBook Air. I copied from web and pasted in my presentation.


For a 2021 solution:

I found a free app appropriately named "Paste Plain Text." So far it's working great and is totally seamless. It does what it claims and nothing more.


  • Please read How do I recommend software for some tips as to how you should go about recommending software. You should provide at least a link, some additional information about the software itself, and how it can be used to solve the problem in the question.
    – DavidPostill
    Jan 21 at 18:03

For my 50 cents worth, as I have a PC keyboard on my Mac, doing Command+Alt+Option+Shift whatever it is is not really feasible to do or remember. I tried swapping "Paste Without Formatting" for Command+V in the shortcuts, but this breaks other stuff so reverted.

My current solution is to paste all text I want to paste into a Visual Studio Code window, then cut it again, then paste it where ever. This removes all formatting. VS Code is a free download from Microsoft, and, as a developer, I have it lying around anyway. Other text editors may work also.


There's a simply way to do this if you're copying from the internet.

  1. Copy
  2. Paste into address bar and they copy again.
  3. Paste in your program.

Anytime you copy from the address bar it will remove styling.

You can also do the paste copy inside the font box in Illustrator itself instead of the address bar. That also removes styling. Illustrator example below.

enter image description here

  • I also use this approach too, but it's not always working if you have a multiline text in the clipboard
    – keul
    Oct 23, 2018 at 7:13

The Pure Paste app (App Store link) by Sindre Sorhus removes formatting automatically when you copy and paste.

enter image description here

The newest app version requires macOS 14 or later. However, you can get the last macOS 13 compatible version from the app's website.

Pure Paste lets you paste as plain text by default. It sits in the menu bar and clears formatting (fonts, colors, bold, links, tables, etc.) from the text you copy. However, it does not touch unrelated content like files, images, etc. It also ignores content copied from password managers.

The app also includes other features (only indirectly related to the OP's question) such as "optionally preserve links" or "remove tracking parameters". You'll find more on that in the app store description.

I've been using this app for weeks now, and it works well for me. I used to use Flycut and paste with a Cmd + Shift + V key combo all the time, but with the Pure Paste app I don't have to do this anymore. And whenever I do want to have formatting, I just right click and paste via the context menu.

  • Please read How do I recommend software for some tips as to how you should go about recommending software. You should provide at least a link, some additional information about the software itself, and how it can be used to solve the problem in the question.
    – DavidPostill
    Jan 21 at 14:38
  • Hey @DavidPostill, thanks for the hint, I've added some more info. Wow, already 3 downvotes and a delete vote. The community of superuser.com feels quite hostile to me right now :'( Jan 21 at 16:26
  • You shoudln't really quote irrelevant parts like removal of tracking params. Using some own words to describe why this is preferred is also usually nice.
    – Destroy666
    Jan 21 at 17:18
  • 1
    @Destroy666 I've removed the irrelevant parts. Feb 11 at 14:49

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