How to Set ‘Paste and Match Style’ as Default on Mac OSX

Here’s a way to set your Mac to copy and paste unformatted text by default rather than preserving unwanted formatting. Updated for macOS Sonoma.

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Text & Photos By David Coleman
Last Revised & Updated:

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Quick Summary

  • Pasting text between applications can transfer unwanted formatting.
  • MacOS offers ‘Paste and Match Style’ to paste text without original formatting.
  • This method can save time but might not work perfectly in all instances.

If you’re pasting text from one application to another, it can get infuriating when the formatting from the copied text gets transported into the target document. If you copy text from an email into Word, for example–or vice versa–you can end up with clashing styles that take an unnecessary amount of time to tidy up. Extra bolds and italics where you don’t want it. Different-sized fonts.

UPDATE: There’s now a simple and free Mac app that makes this even easier. It was created by developer Sindre Sorhus, and you can find it in the Mac App Store.

MacOS also has an option for Paste and Match Style. In the vast majority of cases, that’s what I actually want to do. It’s different from the regular paste in that it takes its formatting the cue from the text you’re pasting into rather than the text you’re pasting from.

Out of the box, there are two options:

  1. You can right-click on the target document and choose Paste and Match Style from the list.
  2. Or you can use the standard keyboard shortcut Command + Option + Shift + V, which involves both remembering the combination and some digit dexterity.

But there’s a third option: overriding the default paste behavior.

Here’s how you do it. I’ve updated these screenshots to be from macOS Sonoma. The layout is a bit different on older versions of macOS, but it’s fundamentally the same process.

Open System Settings > Keyboard > Keyboard Shortcuts

From the Apple icon at the top right of the screen, open system settings. Scroll down on the left panel until you get to Keyboard.

Screenshot of System Settings for macOS Paste and Match Style Keyboard panel

Then click on the Keyboard Shortcuts button.

Screenshot of System Settings for macOS Paste and Match Style Keyboard shortcuts button

From the next screen, choose App Shortcuts from the list at left.

Screenshot of System Settings for macOS Paste and Match Style How-To Guide - App Shortcuts

Create a New Keyboard Shortcut

From the Application drop-down menu, choose All Applications to apply everywhere. Or you can specify an individual application, like Mail, if you prefer.

Click on the + symbol to assign a new shortcut.

Screenshot of System Settings for macOS Paste and Match Style How-To Guide - Paste and Match Style

In the Menu Title field, enter Paste and Match Style. Enter it exactly as is. It’s not asking you to make up a name; it’s asking you for the exact name of the existing menu command.

NB: Some users have reported that for some earlier versions of macOS they’ve had better results using “Paste and Match Formatting” instead. I’ve always used “Paste and Match Style” through many versions of macOS and now with Sonoma, and it has always worked as expected for me. But if it doesn’t work for you, try “Paste and Match Formatting”.

In the Keyboard Shortcut field, press Command + V (or whatever shortcut you want to use). That will capture the new shortcut. Command + V will override the regular paste command, which is what I want to do here. But if you want to preserve the option to still paste formatted text, you can assign a different keyboard shortcut.

Click the Done button.

When you expand the list of shortcuts now, it should show the new one on the list.

Screenshot of System Settings for macOS Paste and Match Style How-To Guide - Done List

Wrap-Up

And that’s it.

Each time you use it might only save you a second or two, but those add up. And I love not having to go back and clear the formatting every. single. time.

But there are, unfortunately, some instances where it doesn’t work as expected, and I’ve found the occasional app that doesn’t cooperate.

So your mileage might vary. If you find that it’s doing some odd things, you can simply remove the shortcut by highlighting it in the list of available shortcuts and then hitting the minus button. That will delete it.

Or you can take a more targeted approach to assign it to apply only when using specific applications rather than globally for all applications.

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David Coleman

I'm a professional photographer based in Washington, DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and many places in between. I've been shooting for 30+ years, and my photos and time-lapse videos have appeared in a bunch of different publications, from major newspapers to magazines and books, billboards, TV shows, professional sports stadiums, museums, and even massive architectural scrims covering world-famous buildings while they're being renovated. You can see some of my travel photography here and here.