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November 28, 2006

The Annoying Need for "Notepad Paste"

I guess this is an example of software trying to do too much. Most of the time when I cut-and-paste, I just want the text, not the formatting. I know the software is trying to do the right thing, but I usually don't trust it anyway. When I paste from Word to Powerpoint, say, I have little faith that the data is really the way it appears. Even if it LOOKS right, I'm suspicious that there is some magic code embedded in there such that when I do something unexpected (like, say, hit delete at the end of the previous line) the whole thing is going to turn purple. Yes, I know Ctrl-space is supposed to remove formatting, but I don't really believe that either. And I don't want to hunt around for the little icon with paste options, only to find that it is not offering "Paste text only" as an option.

So I do the "notepad paste". You probably know what I mean. You run notepad, copy the data in the first app, paste it into notepad, reselect it in notepad, and paste that into the other app. It works because notepad is so simple that all it provides in the source data is the text itself. So the paste operation automatically takes on the formatting, bulleting, fonting, etcing of the target document, which is what I want. It works perfectly every time.

Hopefully the next version of Office will make it a goal to eliminate the notepad paste. If not, they should make it a standard keyboard shortcut. Ctrl-N could be "notepad paste". Ship it.

Posted by AdamBa at November 28, 2006 12:25 PM

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Edit->Paste Special & then selecting 'Unformatted Text' (or something similar) does the job for me, usually.

Posted by: Stuart Dootson at November 28, 2006 12:42 PM

Paste special is too many steps (although it's a bit easier in office 12).

I am a user and believer in puretext (http://www.stevemiller.net/puretext/). There's probably a version on the internal tool website as well.

Info from the web site:

"PureText is basically equivalent to opening Notepad, doing a PASTE, followed by a SELECT-ALL, and then a COPY. The benefit of PureText is performing all these actions with a single Hot-Key and having the result pasted into the current window automatically."

Posted by: Alan at November 28, 2006 12:57 PM

Edit->Paste Special ...'Unformatted Text' is so Office 2000. I like the Office 2003 Smart Tag that appears when you paste -- there's an option to "Keep text only". Works every time, and is a major reason I can't bear older versions of Office.

OTOH pasting to browsers etc, or to apps like IBM's Sametime -- now that's completely borked. Maybe a Paste as Text powertoy is called for? :-)

Posted by: Prasenjeet at November 28, 2006 01:48 PM

I'll second a vote for PureText. Just use Windows+V (by default) to paste without thinking. No need for remembering special different ways for VS, Office, or whatever. Since I often am pasting from Firefox, the Copy As Plain Text extension is useful there too.

Posted by: DonD at November 28, 2006 03:09 PM

In Word 2007 you can turn the default paste to "Keep text only", Under Word Options > Advanced > Cut, Copy, and Paste, there are about 4 pasting default settings, I changed them all to "Keep text only", in Outlook and Word. I presume the other Office apps have a similar option.

Posted by: Wes at November 28, 2006 04:17 PM

Isn't Ctrl-N new document?

Posted by: Ola at November 28, 2006 06:58 PM

ctrl+n for notepad paste... how would you make a new document in that case? (ctrl+n = new document, heh.)

Posted by: Kyle Brantley at November 28, 2006 07:13 PM

The little "Smart Tag" thing in Office 11 sometimes doesn't give you a "Text Only" option. I don't know why. Plus it is sometimes hard to find the thing. I liked the old "Paste Special" way which is now gone.

I will look into the Word 2007 paste default. Could be just the trick (actually it's PowerPoint that usually gives me funny pasting effects).

As for Ctrl-N....well, that's not something I do often enough to need a shortcut for. In fact I'm usually dreading the first stumbling steps of creating a new document, and welcome the brief respite I get from having to go through the slower process of choosing New from the File menu.

Actually the Office team, due to their excellent instrumentation (when opted-in to by users, I will emphasize) has a pretty good idea of how often people to New document vs. Paste.

- adam

Posted by: Adam Barr at November 29, 2006 08:14 AM

Clearly I am out of my tree here, but the thing I would like to do is generate pure text, but with line breaks added to make it readable. I get 1000 and 2000 character lines.

One reason I stopped using IE was that it does not allow the copying of pure text. It will either make it an html file (with all special characters like \ and ^ given html encodings) or a word file, which is even worse (for me) since I want the pure text. Mozilla does it without complaint. I have not tried the latest version of IE that Adam raved about a few weeks ago, but I was amused to observe that he still uses Mozilla at home.

Posted by: marble chair at November 30, 2006 04:55 AM

Another vote for PureText and it ilk. I used PureText for awhile but had better luck with the shortcuts with CopyCleaner. Both in theory allow you to wire up something like, say, Win-V, to do a "clean paste". Can't be beat.

It's frustrating because some applications (I'm looking at you, OneNote) lack a "Paste Special" entirely. Even the ones that do rarely, if ever, have it tied up to a keyboard shortcut at all.

It would be nice to see this as an option in the OS - the ability to set "clean" pasting as the default for Win-V, or at least a common shortcut for all apps to use.

In the meantime, we have separate prgrams like PureText and CopyCleaner :)

Posted by: Tim Marman at December 1, 2006 05:49 AM

Hmmm, tried to paste a link but it looks like it was stripped?


Posted by: Tim Marman at December 1, 2006 05:50 AM

Office 2003 allows you to change the binding of ctrl+v to "text only" (Go to the Customize dialog box).

I did that due to the reasons you explain above. However I just found out how often I actually want the normal behavior! So I had to change it back to the normal mode because I found myself just as frequently as before going to the "Paste special" box to get the formatting mode.

I'm a happy user of the "Paste options" SmartTag now :)

Posted by: andy at December 18, 2006 12:12 PM