Fixing My Most Common Gmail Annoyance

Fixing My Most Common Gmail Annoyance

Every Gmail user has dealt with this annoyance: you’re writing an email, you copy and paste some text from another page, and the text’s formatting comes along for the ride. It’s not the end of the world, but then everything you type after that is formatted the same. Ugh. So now you do what? Keep the formatting? Switch to composing in plain text? Hunt for Gmail’s default font and size?

You’ve got a couple of options:

  1. If you’re using Chrome, you should get familiar with the Ctrl+Shift+V keyboard shortcut (Cmd+Shift+V on OS X). It pastes text in Chrome without formatting, plain and simple. If you want to keep the formatting for your pasted text without hassling with weird formatting after you paste, then the next option is for you.
  2. You start using the Strike Formatting button in Gmail. It’s the button on the far right of the toolbar that looks like T×, and it does exactly what you’d expect: removes all the formatting from selected text and resets the styling to Gmail’s default.

There’s nothing fancy about this, I admit — these are default features built into Chrome/Gmail. But I’ve been growing more and more irritated by copy-and-paste formatting frustrations in Gmail lately, mostly because I’d forgotten about these options. I figure I’m probably not the only one, so it might help you out, too!

You could also just switch to Plain Text for all your emails. I used to be staunchly plain-text, but email is enough of a pain as it is; using rich formatting can help clarify your text, and a well-placed animated GIF never hurts, either.

Alternately, you could use a helper app like Better Paste for Windows (strips text formatting when you paste) or previously mentioned FormatMatch for Mac OS X.

Shortcut of the Day highlights a great shortcut on various platforms from the desktop to mobile devices to the web. You can find more shortcuts here.


  • Dear Lord!
    If anyone knows of a GreaseMonkey script (for Firefox) to move the Newer / Older navigation button left (next to the More drop down menu) I would be forever grateful!

    (Death to wide emails that push this off screen!)

    • Yeah, I rarely have my browser take up more than half the width of my screen so I run into this problem regularly (even with the layout set to ‘compact’).

      Give me small consistent labels rather than big icons that appear on a context sensitive basis any day.

  • I’m pretty certain the only time I’ve ever wanted to paste with formatting was moving stuff around inside a word document.
    I don’t even know why that became the standard. To me ‘paste’ should insert the text I want, ‘paste special’ should give me the option of pasting with extra fancy/annoying formatting.

    I’ve pretty much always just copy/pasted into notepad then back out into whatever I actually wanted to paste into.

    • You took the words right out of my mouth. For all the common sense of modern computing, copying formatting as default has got to be the dumbest thing ever.

  • I’ll try this next time.. What I usually do is paste to Notepad first and then copy from there, as plain text, to the email.. but this will definitely save some annoyance.

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