This keyboard shortcut will revolutionize copy and paste on your Mac

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Is the Mac's default pasting behavior driving you nuts?
Is the Mac's default pasting behavior driving you nuts?
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Did you ever copy some text from a Word document, or from the web, and paste it into an email, only to have the pasted text keep its stupid 24-point Comic Sans formatting? Maybe you had to select everything, then start futzing with the Mac’s font panel to get the new text to match.

The way to fix this annoying problem, as you may already know, is the Mac’s Paste and Match Style command. But what you probably never thought of is that you can make this the default option. That way, you can reap its benefits whenever and wherever you paste text.

Paste and Match Style

The default pasting behavior on the Mac is to preserve the formatting of the copied text. This can be great: If you copy a table from Numbers and paste it into an email, the table will stay nicely formatted, complete with line colors, outlines and any bold/italic/other text styles.

Paste and Match Style's default keyboard shortcut.
Paste and Match Style’s default keyboard shortcut.
Photo: Cult of Mac

But often, all you want are the words. Maybe you just copied the name and price of an item from a web page, and when you paste it into the Notes app, the price shows up in bold, red, 24-point lettering.

In this case, you should use Paste and Match Style, available in the Edit menu of most apps, or via the ⌥⌘V keyboard shortcut. This pastes the text, and matches the style to the target document. If your note is in 12-point Helvetica, then the name and price of that item will also become 12-point Helvetica.

How to make Paste and Match Style the default

If you prefer to have Paste and Match Style as the default option any time you hit ⌘V, then this tip from Ally MacDonald is for you.

  1. Open up the System Preferences app, and click on Keyboard.
  2. Go to the Shortcuts tab.
  3. Click App Shortcuts.
  4. Click the + button.
  5. Type Paste and Match Style into the Menu Title field.
  6. Click in the Keyboard Shortcut field, and hit ⌘V to record the shortcut. It should look like this:
Assign ⌘V to Paste and Match Style
Assign ⌘V to Paste and Match Style
Photo: Cult of Mac

From now on, whenever you paste text, it will automatically be converted to match the text style of the target document.

So … what if you sometimes want to preserve the original text formatting when you paste it? Just create another keyboard shortcut in the same place, using Paste and ⇧⌘V as the Menu Title and Shortcut.

Congratulations. Your Mac is now improved, with no chance of annoying text formatting creeping into your pristine documents ever again.

P.S. Want to smite messy text in iOS? Try the Clean Text app.