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How To Easily Add Plain-Text Pasting to Windows

Copy and paste. Should be simple, right? Although Windows' copy and paste is probably the most often used and most useful functions of all time, the Windows clipboard still has one major flaw - pasting in plain text.

As an online editor, community manager, web consultant, and avid listener of Paul Thurrott's Windows Weekly podcast, I can tell you that anyone who would prefer to author content in a word processor or other application with rich formatting will constantly run into issues pasting content to the web.

In fact, you've probably had it happen to you in one way or another. For example, have you ever copied and pasted something from Microsof Word into a webform, only to discover tons of weird code coming along for the ride? If you have, then you've discovered the Windows clipboard offers no option to strip rich formatting. So while pasting text from one Word document to another works great, pasting it into a WYSIWYG editor on a website will usually yield disastrous results.

Stripping rich formatting from text isn't exactly difficult, but hardly convenient. Most people I encounter end up using Windows Notepad to do the job. Copy and paste into Notepad, then copy out of Notepad.

After listening to Mr. Thurrott complain for the tenth time that Windows doesn't natively include this ability (which is a bummer, I agree), I wanted to share a simple utility I've used for years that adds this ability to Windows in a transparent, almost as-good-as-integrated way.

Installing PureText

To start, download a small, free utility called PureText (http://stevemiller.net/PureText) The download link is at the bottom of the page, or you can click here. It works with Windows 95 through Windows 7.

(A note for TWiT listeners: Paul Thurrott incorrectly attributed me with the creation of this utility. PureText was created by and currently maintained by Steve Miller at the site listed above.)

There is no installer for this utility. It simply works upon opening it, and it consumes very little resources.

While you simply could just open it when you need it, it's best to simply have it start with Windows. There's an option in the program to do this, but I prefer to drop the .exe into my startup folder since I frequently move files around on my drive. Open your startup folder (Start --> Programs/All Programs) --> Right click the Startup folder --> Choose Open), then simply move the puretext.exe file into it. Go ahead and launch the program manually this time, but from now on it will simply start up when Windows does.

So what does PureText do? It does the equivalent of sending text through Notepad, but in a single keyboard command. If you want to paste as normal, press Ctrl+V. If you want to paste in plain text, press WINDOWS+V. You can also customize the keyboard shortcut if you want it to be something else.

It's really as simple as that. I've used this utility for so long, I forget it isn't a native Windows function... at least until someone comes asking why their posts look so screwy.

I know this isn't "built-in," but it's as close as you're going to get until a Microsoft employee gets tired of using Notepad to paste plain text.

Tags : how topaul thurrottpuretextsoftwarewindows weekly

Discussion:    Add a Comment | Comments 1-3 of 3 | Latest Comment

February 15, 2012 11:31 AM

I tried downloading this utility and nothing happened. Is it still available

February 15, 2012 1:34 PM

The link to download works for me. Save it to your local computer, unzip it, and double click the exe file. Then, drag the EXE to your startup folder so it starts with Windows automatically.

January 23, 2013 3:09 PM

#@%&$ Windows 8!

Where is the #@%&$ Startup folder?

Discussion:    Add a Comment | Comments 1-3 of 3 | Latest Comment

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