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The cut, copy, and paste commands are essential tools when working on a computer, and you’ll find them everywhere in Windows. It’s easy to move things when you know how to cut. By understanding how to copy and paste efficiently in Windows, you can dramatically reduce the time you spend creating materials on your computer or device. Copy and paste is one of the best time-saving features on a computer. However, this comes with a common problem: pasted text retains its original formatting, which is often not what you want. Paste is a universally used function of a program and operating system that allows the user to copy text or an image from one place and place it in another place. Along with this extremely useful feature comes unwanted font formatting.
When copying the text with the mouse button or the Ctrl+C command, the user not only copies the text, but also the formatting attached to the text. This little problem becomes problematic when you copy a large amount of text. If you select a lot of text and press Ctrl+C, it not only copies the content of the text, but also the formatting of this text to the clipboard. Then, when you want to paste it into another app, paste both the content and the formatting at the same time. This is a normal copy and paste process that we do on our computers almost every day. But in many situations we want the text to just copy and paste because the formatting that comes with the text often messes up the formatting we’ve already set up.
Copy/paste plain text without formatting to your computer
Use keyboard shortcuts
The default shortcut Ctrl + V (or Cmd + V on a Mac) pastes the text with all of its original marks. But many programs include a secondary shortcut that allows you to paste without formatting. On Windows, you can use the Ctrl + Shift + V combination to paste without formatting in various important programs, such as Google Chrome. If the app you need to paste into doesn’t support this, see the options below for other ways.
If you are a Mac user, you are all set. macOS includes the Option + Command + Shift + V shortcut to paste without formatting anywhere in the operating system. While it’s a pretty clunky key combination, it doesn’t require any additional software.
Using PureText on Windows
Windows users who often need to paste without formatting should install PureText. It is a simple utility that adds a new keyboard shortcut useful for this procedure. On Windows 10, you can install PureText from the Microsoft Store for automatic updates. If you’re using an older version of Windows or don’t want to install the Store version, get it from the PureText website.
Once installed, you can right-click the PT icon in the system tray and choose Options to access the settings panel. If you want, you can change the default Windows + V shortcut to something else. We also recommend unchecking the Play a sound box, as this is not necessary.
Use paste options in Microsoft Office
Office applications, especially Microsoft Word, are one of the biggest culprits for unwanted text formatting. To avoid having to manually correct each piece of text that you paste into a Word document, you can take advantage of the paste options in Office. After you paste something into Word, Excel, or other Office applications, keep an eye on the Paste Options box. Mouse over it and you can choose from three options:
- Keep Source Formatting is the same as normal paste. This will paste the text as it was when you copied it.
- Merge Format will match the font of the pasted text to the font in the document, but will preserve basic text options such as bold or italics.
- Keep Text Only allows you to paste without formatting.
Instead of using the panel that appears after you paste, you can right-click and access the same Paste Options in that menu. Alternatively, press Ctrl + Alt + V to open the Paste Special dialog. This gives you essentially the same options without having to change the paste method afterwards.
Paste into Notepad first
Most text boxes support rich text, so they retain the formatting of what you last copied. However, basic text editors like Notepad don’t support anything other than plain text. Because of this, you can use Notepad as an intermediary to paste without formatting. Simply copy the text, paste it into Notepad, and then copy it again. Copying it from Notepad will give you a plain version that doesn’t contain any formatting.
While this works, we recommend using one of the above options if possible. This is a good backup, but it’s not efficient. For a slightly faster method, you can paste into a more readily available plain text box, such as the address bar in your browser or the search box in the Start menu.
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