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Esquire | Mac is a blog by Adam Greivell, a 20+ year Mac veteran and Maryland litigation attorney. Adam practices law primarily in Hagerstown, Maryland. Macs are his weapons of choice.
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(1) It should go without saying, but, I'm a lawyer and I can't keep from saying it: This site is for informational purposes, and is not to be construed as legal advice. I can't imagine how anyone could possibly think anything here equates to legal advice, but in case you did: it doesn't. 
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Paste Unformatted Text (Slightly) More Easily In Word 2008

In my professional writing, I often need to copy text from one source and paste it into whatever document I'm drafting. Legal writing, however, leaves little room for variation in formatting, and most paste jobs are better done with the formatting from the source stripped so that the pasted text matches the rest of the document I'm drafting.

As you know, the default paste command (Edit > Paste, or command-v), however, retains the formatting from the source (e.g., bold, underlined, font, size, color, etc...).

For most Apple applications (Pages, TextEdit, Mail, Safari, etc...), there is a universal command called "Paste and Match Style," which will - you guessed it - paste and match the style of the document you're pasting to. Using the Keyboard preference pane (System Preferences > Keyboard), it is possible to simply map a system-wide keyboard shortcut that will invoke the "Paste and Match Style" command in whatever application you're using, assuming it's available as an option in that particular application. I learned this tip a few months ago from the good folks at The Unofficial Apple Weblog, although I modified their suggestion slightly for my own tastes. I prefer to have the default Paste remain as command-v, and have the Paste and Match Style be command-shift-v. But that's just my preference. You can make your shortcut anything you want, even command-shift-option-control-function-F7 if having crazy complicated keyboard shortcuts is your thing.

The simple steps to accomplish this Paste and Match Style near-global shortcut are:

  • Go to System Preferences and click on the Keyboard pane;
  • Select "Keyboard Shortcuts" at the top of the window;
  • Select Application Shortcuts from the lefthand pane;
  • Hit the plus sign at the bottom of the right pane;
  • Select All Applications from the Application drop-down;
  • Type "Paste and Match Style" in the field for Menu Title;
  • Click in the field for Keyboard Shortcut and type the command you'd like to use.
  • Click Add.

And, you're done.

Except, if you use Microsoft Word a lot, like I do, this won't do the trick there. Word for Mac 2008, surprise, does not use the standard Paste and Match Style command. Instead, the command is Edit > Paste Special..., which, by default, does not have a shortcut assigned to it. After clicking Edit > Paste Special... in Word, you are presented with the window below from which you must choose Unformatted Text and hit OK. So, instead of one simple keystroke, it's a 4 step process.

The best I can do is reduce that process by one step, and I've got two ways to do that. One is to put the Paste Special command in the toolbar so you can just click it, and the other is to assign a keyboard shortcut to the Paste Special command. Either way, however, you are stuck with dealing with that window. If you figure out a way to automate that part of the process, please let me know!

Putting Paste Special in the Toolbar

To put the Paste Special button in the Toolbar for one-click access to the Paste Special command, right-click on the toolbar and select "Customize Toolbars and Menus..."

Once you've done that, you'll be presented with this window:

Select the Commands tab at the top, select the Edit item in the lefthand pane, and in the righthand pane, find the "Paste Special..." item and drag it to wherever you want on your toolbar. I put mine on the right, as seen here:

Creating a Keyboard Shortcut for Paste Special

To create a keyboard shortcut for the Paste Special command in Word 2008, you can follow the same instructions above for the near-system-wide command, only instead of choosing "All Applications" from the drop-down menu, choose "Other..." and then choose Microsoft Word. You can use the same shortcut as for the near-global one you did earlier if you want. For the Menu Title, type "Paste Special..." instead of "Paste and Match Style.

Alternatively, you can assign the shortcut from within Word, if you'd prefer to do it that way. To do this, right-click in the toolbar again to select Customize Toolbars and Menus. Then, when the window comes up, from the bottom-right, next to the OK button, hit the Keyboard button. This will bring up the following window:

  • In the Categories pane, select Edit.
  • In the Commands pane, select EditPasteSpecial.
  • Click in the "Press new keyboard shortcut" field and press your new keyboard shortcut.
  • Verify it's the right command, and click Assign.

NOW, you're done.

Gee, now that I've written it all out, that seems like an awful lot of work just to save one click. But, hey, productivity takes time.

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Reader Comments (4)

Excellent solution. There were a lot of other complicated, unhelpful sites out there. Great job!

April 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBen Radar

mac word is a piece of dog s**t, wtf, NOT SIMPLE!

August 13, 2011 | Unregistered Commentervin

Thank you very much!

January 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkunal

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