Commonly-supported Windows shortcuts for pasting without formatting

Raymond Chen

Sometimes you just want to paste as plain text.

Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox all support Ctrl+Shift+V as a keyboard shortcut for “paste as plain text.” This means that Ctrl+Shift+V also works in browser-based apps, like Teams.

Programs in the Microsoft Office suite naturally do things a little differently, and the way to paste as plain text is to hit Ctrl+Alt+V and then select “Unformatted Text”. Alternatively, you can do Alt, H, V, T. Note that the keys are pressed and released in sequence, not held simultaneously.

One trick I use if I need to strip formatting from the clipboard is to use the key sequence Win+R, Ctrl+V, Ctrl+A, Ctrl+C, Esc. This opens the Run dialog, pastes the clipboard into the edit box, then copies the text back out.

If I’m on a Web page, I use Ctrl+F instead of Win+R, using the Web browser’s “Find text on page” dialog as the temporary edit control.


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  • Rick G 4

    There is a very nice freeware utility that does this, which I have used for over a decade: PureText.

  • Adam Rosenfield 0

    On macOS, I use a stupid hack of Cmd+Tab’ing over to a terminal window and typing `pbpaste | pbcopy`. pbpaste is a program that takes whatever’s on the clipboard (aka the pasteboard) and prints it to stdout, and then pbcopy does the inverse of taking stdin and putting it onto the clipboard as plain text.

    It’s more typing than most of the alternatives and not the most efficient, but it’s what’s in my muscle memory.

  • David S. 1

    The run dialog trick is shocking because I have never ever seen anyone doing this except for myself. Now I don’t have to feel embarrassed about this ugly workaround!

    • Andreas Rejbrand 1

      I also use the run dialog like this! The same dialog is useful if I want to test my speakers and current sound volume: I just press Win+R, Ctrl+Q, Esc.

  • MGetz 0

    I’ve had a few situations where literally the only way to get plain text properly is to go through notepad++, even notepad didn’t always work. Not sure why but some apps get too smart for their own good.

    • 0

      Multiple formats can be included at the same time when copying data to the clipboard, and every consuming application makes its own choice what formats it recognizes. It is conceivable that an app can supply a rich text format but not the standard plain text one, leaving a program like Notepad++ confused. Or maybe it supports both, but the rich text format is badly formed data and the consuming app doesn’t have a strategy to fall back to the plain text format.

  • Mike Morrison 1

    My go-to for removing text formatting is to copy it into EditPad and then back out. It works for me because I nearly always have one such window open as a scratch space.

  • Patrick 1

    Looks like Ctrl-Alt-V doesn’t work in OneNote though. I guess I’ll keep using PureText for a little while longer.

  • Tim Dawson 0

    I’ve used the Run dialog trick myself since the beginning of formatted text. I thought it was just me. I kind of thought there must be a better way but I didn’t know about it, but this post proves there isn’t. It’s probably the single most annoying thing about my usage of computers. I have almost never wanted to retain formatting when copying and pasting from web content or anywhere else, yet removing it requires a load of actions.

  • Dmitry 0

    Tried Ctrl+Alt+V in my Word 2003. Doesn’t work. Luckily a single-line macro for Ctrl+Alt+Shift+V just works.

    Yes, better UX than Gibbon is more important than having a newer version. A lot of people around tend to do the same, compatibility package is enough to work with the rest.

    P.S. Win+R seems to only work for single-line text.

    • Andreas Rejbrand 1

      Win+R, “notepad”, Enter, Ctrl+V, Ctrl+A, Ctrl+C, Alt+F4, n.

  • Ron ParkerMicrosoft employee 0

    On Windows 11 (possibly only in insider builds?) the Win+V hotkey has “paste as plain text” functionality in addition to clipboard history. It’s behind the … menu for the clipboard item. If you hate using the mouse, as I do, it’s Win+V, tab, enter, enter to paste the current clipboard contents as plain text.

  • Georg Rottensteiner 0

    Nice shortcuts, I usually also use my favourite text editor.

    Hall of Shame Top 1: Eclipse (Yes, I’m forced to use it) . It copies the text with blue color and blue background (as it’s selected).
    This clearly shows nobody of the dev team ever used it themselves.

  • Peter Sasi 2

    Slightly easier than the run dialog _and_ works with multiline:
    1. Windows button
    2. Ctrl-v
    3. Ctrl-a or shift-up
    4. Ctrl-x 😉

  • Ian Boyd 0

    And here i’ve been doing: Ctrl+Esc, Notepad, Return, Ctrl+V, Ctrl+A, Ctrl+C like a savage.

    • Paul Gullas 0

      I do the same, only with Win+R instead of Ctrl-Esc

  • Daniel Rose 0

    I use a clipboard manager (Ditto), which includes an option to paste as plain text.

  • Mikko Kunnari 0

    I’m yet to figure out why anyone would ever want to paste something else than plain text when copy and paste is not done inside the same application. It would be nice to be a able to force plain text paste globally on Windows.

    • Brian Boorman 0

      You never paste between Office applications? Like a range of spreadsheet cells into Word or Powerpoint? Or a Visio diagram into Word or Powerpoint?

  • Brian Boorman 0

    A lot of applications let you right-click and “paste as”. Office apps, Outlook for example.

  • David Powell 0

    I often use the old CUA shortcuts for cut and paste, Shift-Del and Shift-Insert

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