5 Ways to Strip Formatting When You Copy and Paste Text

Ben Stegner Updated 16-12-2019

You probably copy and paste multiple times per day. And while it’s an extremely handy function, one of its biggest annoyances is bringing along special formatting. Grab some text from the web, and you’ll often find that it keeps its original style when pasted in your document.


We’ll show how to copy and paste without formatting using several easy tricks.

1. Paste Without Formatting Using Shortcuts

If you need to paste plain text often, you should know the dedicated methods for doing so. Thankfully, there are efficient methods available in the form of app and keyboard shortcuts.

On Windows, while it’s not universal, many apps support the shortcut Ctrl + Shift + V to paste without formatting. These include Chrome, Firefox, and Evernote.

To paste as plain text on a Mac, you can use the somewhat cumbersome shortcut Option + Cmd + Shift + V to paste without formatting. This is a system-wide shortcut, so unlike Windows, it should work everywhere.

2. How to Paste Without Formatting in Microsoft Office

There’s one major exception to these shortcuts: Microsoft Office. You’ll probably want to paste plain text into your documents most of the time, making this a bit of a pain. Thankfully, there is a Word shortcut to paste without formatting.


The basic method is to paste text into your Word document as normal. Once you’ve done so, look for the little tooltip that appears near the text.

Word Paste Tooltip Options

Click on it (or hit Ctrl to use keyboard shortcuts) and you’ll have three options:

  • Keep Source Formatting is the default and will keep the text exactly as you copied it. (After opening the tooltip with Ctrl, press K to select it.)
  • Merge Formatting will make the text you’re pasting match the text around it. This will keep basic formatting like bold and bullet points, but changes the font to match what’s already in the document. (M is the shortcut key for this.)
  • Keep Text Only pastes in plain text, stripping all formatting. (Use T as the keyboard shortcut for this option.)

If you don’t like the above keyboard shortcuts or don’t want to use your mouse to select the tooltip, there’s another Word shortcut to paste without formatting. Use Ctrl + Alt + V or (Cmd + Alt + V on a Mac) to open the Paste Special window. Here, select Unformatted Text to paste in plain text.


Word Paste Special

Finally, if you’d like, you can set the default paste option in Word to always paste in plain text. Head to File > Options and select the Advanced tab on the left. Here, look under the Cut, copy, and paste header for default pasting settings. You can change your preference for various forms of pasting; Pasting from other programs will take care of text copied from your browser or other apps.

Word Advanced Pasting Settings

3. How to Always Paste Without Formatting on Mac

Have a Mac and want to paste without formatting every time? You can set up a simple override in System Preferences to customize your Mac’s keyboard 6 Apps to Customize Your Mac's Keyboard Behavior These Mac keyboard apps will take your productivity to the next level. Here are some great keyboard apps for faster typing, navigation, and more. Read More and avoid the finger gymnastics that the default shortcut requires.


Head to Apple menu > System Preferences and select Keyboard. Switch to the Shortcuts tab, then choose App Shortcuts from the list on the left. You’ll then need to click the Plus icon below the box to create a new shortcut.

In the Application field, select All Applications, since you want to copy without formatting everywhere on your Mac. Enter Paste and Match Style for the Menu Title box, followed by Cmd + V in the Keyboard shortcut box.

Copy Paste Plain Text on Mac

Click Add and you’re all set. Now the default Cmd + V shortcut should always paste without formatting. Because of menu names, it might not work in every single app, but should take care of most.


Just keep in mind that after doing this, you’ll need to use Edit > Paste if you ever want to actually paste with formatting.

4. Paste as Plain Text Everywhere on Windows

If you’re a Windows user jealous of the above workaround for Mac users, don’t despair. There’s a tiny Windows tool, called PureText, that gives you a new shortcut to always paste without formatting.

Even better, the tool is available on the Microsoft Store for easy installation and automatic updates. After you install it, right-click its icon in your System Tray and choose Options to configure a few settings.

PureText Windows Options

By default, the combo PureText uses to paste without formatting is Win + V. If you’d prefer to use something else, you can set a different shortcut here. Other than this, make sure you have Paste the converted text into the currently selected window checked, which makes the shortcut paste for you instead of only converting.

You’ll likely want to disable Play a sound, as there’s really no reason to hear this annoying sound every time you paste. Make sure Automatically run PureText when Windows starts is selected so you don’t have to think about it, and you’re all set.

It’s a simple utility, but it makes the action of pasting without formatting incredibly easy.

5. Copy Without Formatting Using a Text Editor

This is a clunky method that we include just so you’re aware of it. In most cases, you’ll likely find one of the above options more convenient.

Pasting without formatting is only an issue when you paste into an app that supports special text styles. Thus, one classic way to copy and paste without formatting is to simply paste the text into Notepad (Windows) or TextEdit (Mac) first.

(Mac users: TextEdit uses rich text by default, so you’ll need to press Cmd + Shift + T to convert the document to plain text after pasting. You can set TextEdit to use plain text files all the time by going to TextEdit > Preferences and checking the Plain text box.)

These programs are basic text editors, so they don’t work with various fonts and rich text like bold and italics. Simply copy the text you want, then paste it into Notepad or TextEdit. It will appear as plain text there; copy this and paste it to the final destination.

Windows Notepad Strip Text Formatting

It’s not the most efficient way to paste without formatting, but it doesn’t require you to download any software and works reliably. To make this a bit faster, you can instead paste into another plain text box, like your browser’s address bar.

Paste Without Formatting Every Time

We’ve looked at the best ways to copy and paste without formatting on both Windows and Mac. Whether you use the system-wide solutions or opt for built-in shortcuts, you can easily choose when to paste in plain text. This saves time and helps you strip out useless formatting in one step.

For more on copying and pasting, check the basics of copying and pasting on Mac How to Copy and Paste on a Mac Our look at how to copy and paste on Mac gives you everything you need to manage your clipboard like a pro. Read More and how to copy and paste on your iPhone How to Copy and Paste on Your iPhone How do you copy and paste on your iPhone? You will be surprised at the tiny tips that lie behind this simple task. Read More .

Related topics: Clipboard, Keyboard Shortcuts, Mac Tricks, Microsoft Office Tips, Notepad, Productivity Tricks, Text Editor, Windows Tricks.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Jim Demers
    January 7, 2020 at 4:24 am

    In Word for the Mac, go to Tools > Customize Keyboard. Once there, select Edit on the left and PasteTextOnly on the right. Then, add whatever keyboard shortcut you want.
    This works for me in Office for Mac 2016; your mileage may vary.

  2. Ken Mitchell
    July 30, 2019 at 5:03 am

    I generally have a tab open for Notepad++, the finest ever text editor. Paste text from anywhere into Notepad++, and then copy from there and all you get is the plain text.

  3. Eugene Shults
    November 20, 2017 at 5:37 pm

    Easily one of the dumbest design choices by Microsoft. Literally 10% of their end user base probably find it more useful than annoying.

    Plain text copy and paste should be default and format copy/paste shouldn't, not the other way around.

  4. jma43
    November 7, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    After copying desired content and placing cursor where I want to paste into a Word document, ALT+HVT (hold down ALT, then type H, then V, then T) works for me. I have Win7SP1 with MS Word 2010. It's a handful of keys, but no extensions or macros required.

  5. Pat
    October 25, 2017 at 7:03 pm

    A+ for use of "Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing" lol

  6. Jizziminny
    March 7, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    Rubbish. control key and shift key and v key do not paste anything.

  7. evin k sebastian
    February 28, 2017 at 7:01 am

    if i copied a text from the pdf and pasted in msword ,can we find the word is copied or typed

  8. JFitz
    November 7, 2016 at 11:30 pm

    Thank you! This has been vexing me for over 30 minutes!!

    • Ben Stegner
      November 8, 2016 at 3:55 pm

      I'm glad this helps you! Which method do you prefer to strip the formatting?

  9. cipricus
    October 12, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    About Nuvola player: it IS just a webkit browser page. -- The fact that it "integrates" with the system doesn't make it a player. - Also, I see no integration in KDE. It is just a simplistic webkit browser with some bookmarks for the music streaming sites.

    • Tina Sieber
      November 8, 2016 at 10:01 am

      Thank you for your comment Cipricus. I'm afraid you scrolled a little too far and left it under an unrelated article. The above is about stripping the formatting from text, not about Nuvola or webkit browsers at all.

  10. Burak
    May 24, 2015 at 8:59 pm

    I just googled for this issue and found there. I liked PureText :)
    and I liked "ctrl+k"
    I will use these features a lot during my thesis ;)

  11. Craig
    April 16, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    You had me at CTRL + Shift + V

  12. John Williams
    February 10, 2015 at 6:59 pm

    Since I retired I no longer own Office, but the world and his dog keep sending me .doc and even worse .docx files. Despite Abiword and Libreoffice and other free softwares claiming they can open docx, it often doesn't work.
    I find the only way to rid myself of MS Word bloat is to pass it through Notepad. The most startling thing you notice is the file size difference. Less than 1kb of pure ASCII text is turned into 30-50kb by Office! It can't all be formatting info.
    What is Word saying about you in the metadata it adds to every page you write? You'll have to Google that, it's too long for this comment.
    A useful tip is that saving without metadata in Word is not a global option, it defaults to "on" and has to be disabled for each document, or each page for the truly paranoid.

    Many spies governments and diplomats are returning to using typewriters, photographing the document and sending the .jpg .....

    • Ben S
      March 9, 2015 at 5:31 pm

      I've been curious about the metadata in Word, as you said - a half-page of text is ~50 KB, which seems like way too much. I'll have to check out the specifics soon - thanks for bringing this up!

    • Shing a light in the darkness
      October 14, 2016 at 12:13 am

      > Many spies governments and diplomats are returning to using
      > typewriters, photographing the document and sending the .jpg

      This seems like mere conjecture and extremely implausible.

      • Ben Stegner
        October 31, 2016 at 4:10 pm

        I think you're right, as there's not really any proof of this.

        • Learning to proofread
          October 31, 2016 at 7:27 pm

          Then why don't you take down the comment? Why succumb to the notion that, "The Internet is full of foolish statements, half-truths, and outright lies therefore why try to clean it up?" Freedom of speech is not absolute. Besides, freedom of speech does not even apply to website such as this one.

          Surely, eventually governments will pass laws requiring companies such as yours to "do the right thing." Why wait? Why not establish a solid reputation now?

        • Ben Stegner
          October 31, 2016 at 7:37 pm

          Because 80% of his comment is information, not conjecture. Further, we aren't fond of deleting every comment we don't agree with. Things that are offensive or malicious, sure, but we don't just blatantly delete every comment we don't agree with.

      • Ken Mitchell
        July 30, 2019 at 5:09 am

        Implausible, yes, but true. Sometimes inadvertently. About 10 years ago, somebody in the US government sent a document to somebody in the British government. During a press conference, the Brits said it was entirely their own idea, and released the Word document to the press - complete with metadata showing that an American had created the document.

        That was when people started getting SERIOUS about stripping metadata, and Micro$oft added the clear metadata functions.

  13. Jean LeRoy
    February 10, 2015 at 2:50 am

    If you are using a mac all you need is "text soap" I have been using it for years, it is simple copy, paste, scrub, copy, paste you are done. Gets rid of forwarding and all.

  14. Tom
    February 10, 2015 at 2:01 am

    I've never thought of this as a problem because I've been using Clipmate for so many years. Although not free, and no longer actively being developed, it still stands head and shoulders above the competition. IMHO, easily the most useful utility program of all time.

  15. Brian
    February 9, 2015 at 10:53 pm

    If you're pasting into Excel and you want to remove formatting, don't paste it into an actual cell. Instead, click in the input bar (above the grid area) and paste it there. This is a plain text input box, so it removes all formatting.

    • Ben S
      March 9, 2015 at 5:30 pm

      That's a great point, and if you use Excel a lot but don't want to install third-party tools or bother with Notepad it's a perfect solution. Thanks for a good addition to the list!

  16. LoveThisPost!
    February 9, 2015 at 4:58 am

    I used to use notepad, but I simply paste in the browser's address bar (URLs) and then copy/paste ...

  17. Ivan
    February 7, 2015 at 8:14 am

    I use this autohotkey script to strip the formatting:


    #v::Gosub Plaintext


    clipboard = %clipboard% ;clear any formatting from the clipboard
    send, {CTRLDOWN}v{CTRLUP} ;send normal paste command
    return ;end the function

  18. David
    February 7, 2015 at 5:40 am

    On my Mac, I prefer TextWrangler, both for removal of text formatting and general text editing. It's more like Windows Notepad than TextEdit.

  19. Ignacio
    February 7, 2015 at 12:10 am

    Wow! And I thought I had a lot of programs running in the system tray!!! And there is "only" 12 of them... never thought I'd see the monster quantity of programs on your screen shot!!! LOL Do you actually run other programs on your machine? Does it ever get "stuck"? How much RAM does your system have, 32 GB?

    • Ben S
      February 7, 2015 at 1:55 am

      I have 8 GB of RAM and a solid-state drive and my computer is screaming fast. Between cloud storage and productivity tools, I have a lot running! Note that some of it is pre-installed HP stuff along with Windows notifications.

  20. alc112
    February 6, 2015 at 11:15 pm

    I use notepad++ beacuse it lets me replace the "enter" with a "space" (It's called EOL to space) when I copy text from a OCRed PDF. In fact, I made a macro. so now I just have to Crtl+c in pdf, change to notepad++ and crtl+t and finllay go to Word to paste the plain text :)

  21. Jon
    February 6, 2015 at 9:51 pm

    my method (Firefox on Win):
    Ctrl+c; Ctrl+l/k; Ctrl+v; Ctrl+a; Ctrl+c
    copy; moves to address bar/ search bar; paste text(formating is cleared); choose all; copy

    just seen the last commenter - M R said exactly the same! posting it anyway :P

    • Tina
      March 8, 2015 at 8:43 pm

      Thanks for sharing anyway, Jon! I actually do the same with Chrome sometimes. :)

    • Jason
      October 24, 2017 at 4:11 pm

      Never thought to use Ctr-L usually I use win+R which works anywhere (easier than notepad but it may not be as good for many lines).

  22. M R
    February 6, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    I use firefox and when I have something highlighted on a website that I want to copy without formatting I 1) copy (Ctrl-C), 2) go to the seartch box (Ctrl-K), 3) paste it there (Ctrl-V), and then 4) select all and cut it from there sans-formatting (Ctrl-A, Ctrl-X). It sounds like a lot, but I do this all from the keyboard and its actually rather quick.

    • ??????Walkman??????
      February 23, 2015 at 10:04 pm

      You could probably make an AHK utility that maps a hotkey to that combination, making it even faster :P

  23. Paul R
    February 6, 2015 at 4:13 pm

    I use Office (the first example) 2010. Love its paste options.

    When that doesn't do it (occasionally I find PDFs from hell that insert formatting that would survive a crematorium) I use Stripmail. I copy the text I need, open up the small stripmail utility, click on a Do It All button, and the unformatted text is then transferred to my clipboard (and Stripmail itself gets minimized). Love this utility, been using it for years. I emailed the guy once, asking if he wanted donations, he said no, its just a hobby for him, doesn't need the cash.

    Pretty cool.

    • Ben S
      February 6, 2015 at 5:57 pm

      That's awesome! I love when developers fill a need that a lot of people have. So cool of him not to accept cash either.

      Thanks for your comment and letting me know about this tool!