Use TextExpander to sanitize formatted text

September 16, 2012

This is such a trivial “hack” that I debated even writing about it at all, but whatever.

At work, I often have to copy and paste between apps stuff that has wildly different formatting (e.g., rich text, HTML, plain text, etc.), and, depending on what I’m pasting into (e.g., a spreadsheet, an HTML email, a Word doc, etc.), this can cause some serious headaches.

If I want to strip the formatting, one obvious solution is to just paste into a text editor, and then copy/paste out of it. But, well, that’s a lot of steps. An easier, almost mindless solution is to create a new TextExpander snippet that outputs only the contents of the clipboard, in plain text.

To do this, set the menu located just above the snippet body to “Content: Plain Text”, and set the body of the snippet to %clipboard. That’s it. When you want to keep the formatting, simply paste the contents; when you want to strip the formatting, invoke the snippet.

UPDATE: Of course there are a million ways to accomplish this, and my buddy Ben wrote up a couple of different methods, one using LaunchBar and one using Keyboard Maestro. Also, Twitter follower, Josh Whittington, reminded me that within most Cocoa apps, ⌘⌥⇧V will “Paste and Match Style”.

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