A keyboard shortcut to paste UNFORMATTED text into Outlook and other Microsoft Office applications

I get mighty irritated by the fact that when you copy and paste text into an Outlook email, 9 times out of 10 the source is html or some other rich format – so you have to click Paste -> Paste Special -> select “unformatted text” and click OK – a right pain in the arse.

So, I went in search of a short key combination – CTRL V like, but to paste “unformatted”. Well, there isn’t one – the best you can do is to configure the default paste to be “unformatted” – but that’s not very useful when you need to keep the formatting.
Here is my top tip: download PureText from here: http://www.stevemiller.net/puretext/ it’s a cracker. It allows you to assign any short key combination to “paste unformatted”. I set mine to CRTL B – job done.

PS. While I am at it – if you do paste formatted text into an email and then discover that every subsequent Carriage Return drops you down two lines instead of one, just keep the shift key down when you press return, and you will only drop down one line.


25 thoughts on “A keyboard shortcut to paste UNFORMATTED text into Outlook and other Microsoft Office applications”

  1. Of course, it would have been too much for MS to have thought of simply using ‘Alt, E, S’ which is what works for Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

  2. Thanks for the V tip! I’ve been an Alt-E-S guy for so long and was despairing of a solution! I’m also not thrilled about the absence of textual documentation. The last thing I want to do is watch a video when I’m looking for a specific command!

  3. Thank you for this tip. It is brilliant and something I will at least 20 times a day. In words of Spock – May you live long and prosper (not really a Trekky fan but it sounds like the appropriate gesture for something you’ve given me that will help me on a daily basis LOL 🙂

    1. You could – but then you have an additional step of then having to select the paste format from a drop down list. Either you use PureText and select a simple key combination for pasting text in in the format of the host text – or you use CTRL ALT V and poke about in a drop box selection. Your call 🙂

  4. I use copy/paste constantly to put Plain Text into emails, where Outlook is set to use HTML by default. The Paste Special is not even an option, so I was opening Notepad, pasting – selecting – copying, then pasting into Outlook. What a pain. Thanks for this tip, I can’t wait to try out PT!


    1. A big thanks for taking the time to comment – it is really appreciated.

      Yes, this tip is over 3 years old – and PureText still works fine with XP, Vista and Windows 7. In fact, I use it every day with Windows 7 and wouldn’t be without it!

      Best wishes,

  5. Under Outlook 2010, when you paste a little drop-down appears just below the cursor, so you can choose whether to paste the formatting, merge it (need to experiment with this) or ignore it. So you can set the default to paste only the text, and easily override it for those occasions when you want to paste the formatting as well.

  6. Another way to do this with just the keyboard is to paste using CTL+V, then hit CTL and then T. Note, you should not hit CTL and T together, that will just get you a tab.

    1. Oh, wow Amit, you are a star!

      Not only did I never know that, but none of the 157K previous readers have ever pointed that out either!

      I can confirm that this CTRL-V, CTRL, T, trick works just fine on Windows 8 RTM (as does PureText – for those who want few key presses …. 🙂 )


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