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 OSX to copy and paste to only read the the plaintext of my selection?

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

12 Answers 12


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
  • 10
    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.

  • 2
    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, 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.

Hope that helps!

  • 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.


In addition to the solutions already posted here, there are some utilities that can force Mac OS to always paste plain text:

  1. Plain Clip, free, with some extra features such as removing trailing white space

  2. iClipboard, paid, a full clipboard manager with history, search and grouping of clippings

There also was a tool called FormatMatch, but it seems to have been discontinued.


Command + Shift + V instead of Command + V

it is working in my mac 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.



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.


For users who wish to paste plain text in Microsoft Word, check out this resource. The other answers here only address pasting by matching the destination style or formatting.

The steps consist of creating a macro in Word and assigning a keyboard shortcut of choice to this macro. This process is fairly simple should take no more than 5-10 minutes in total.

For support in Word 2016, delete or comment out the part of the script for no content on the clipboard, as described in this follow-up post.


For my 50c 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.


I just started using an app called Plain Text Copy. Does just that - copies text without the formatting. In case anyone needs it, it’s here: https://itunes.apple.com/se/app/plain-text-copy/id1297888715


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

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