Copying Text Without the Horrible Formatting

Saturday, August 16, 2014 

Have you ever copied some text off a web page or a document and then gone to paste it in another document or spreadsheet only to find some horribly formatted hypertext pasted in for some bizarre reason, then had to go through the hassle of trying to figure out how to remove the formatting?

Have you ever used Putty or another SSH client that automatically copies highlighted text to the copy buffer and allows pasting with a middle click and wished all programs were this smart?

Has anyone, ever, in the history of using a computer, WANTED to paste formatted text from a web page or drop some idiotic OLE object into their FrameMaker document?  I know I’ve never once wanted that to happen.

Tonight I had to copy a 100 or so mac addresses out of a DHCP list from the web interface of pfSense into an Excel table and each damn time I got stupid formatting and then had to select the cell, select the drop down menu for paste options, select paste as text, repeat.  Holy crap, what the hell were they thinking?  No clue.

None of the paste solutions recommended for Excel worked for me and OpenOffice/Libre were just as screwed up.  But I found some solutions for the copy side for Windows.  Some of the plugins should work on Linux.  If you’re using a Mac, The Steve has already decided how your work is permitted to look and the Apple goons will probably break your fingers if you try to modify formatting.

  • Auto Copy makes Chrome on windowz almost as efficient as a linux application! Copy as text, select to copy. Middle click to paste.  Dang. But it doesn’t seem to always remove formatting (select to copy works reliably though).
  • Copy as Plain text fixes this stupidity on Firefox.
  • UPDATE: Márton Anka is an awesome developer who writes some of the best code on the internet and his plugin PLAINCOPY, is an excellent solution.
  • Autocopy2 adds the incredibly useful select to copy to Firefox.  Once you get used to it, you’ll be frustrated with applications that don’t support it.
  • This edit to maker.ini will prefer pasting plain text (or now UTF8) over OLE2, eliminating that horror from FrameMaker.

It turns out there’s a universal solution for Windows.

  • PureText removes formatting from text on the clipboard and pastes it with an alternate key command (like Windows-V), so even copying from word documents to excel isn’t a horrible nightmare of tedium.

I haven’t yet figured out how to copy images from Firefox to Thunderbird without pasting it as a reference to the original image.  Pasting an HTML reference to remote content means the recipient either doesn’t see the image (because they don’t auto-load remote content or because they don’t have permission to load it or aren’t on-line when they read their mail) or Thunderbird makes a request to the referenced site to load the media creating a privacy violating log entry.  The most convenient solution I’ve found is to paste the image into irfanview first and then copy from there into Thunderbird.

Posted at 15:40:40 UTC

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