Copy PlainText is a Firefox extension that lets you copy text without the formatting style

Nov 25, 2019
Updated • Nov 25, 2019
Firefox, Windows software

Have you ever tried to copy formatted text from a web page and paste it in a different tab? Sometimes it doesn't work as intended.

Say for example, you wanted to copy a list of ingredients from a recipe page, and send it to your friend via IM or email, and it resulted in some unwanted formatting.

Copy PlainText is a Firefox extension that lets you copy text without the formatting style

I have noticed this on various websites, e.g when I wanted to quote a line or two from a website on my social network page; the text that I pasted into the editor included code/syntax when I pasted it. In worst case, it could mean that you paste content that references scripts or changes the layout of the site in question.

While some programs support plain text pasting, e.g. Firefox users may use Ctrl-Shift-V to paste in plain text, others don't. Clipboard managers like CopyQ or resident programs like the Windows app PlainPaste provide options to deal with those.

Copy PlainText is an add-on that help prevent such annoyances, and it's very user-friendly.

Now, the add-on does not include a button on the toolbar. Initially I found this to be odd, because that's where most add-ons are accessed from. But there are exceptions to this "rule" and this extension is only useful at certain times so there isn't really a need for a button.

How to use Copy PlainText?

To access the extension, you need to select some text on any web page. Then, right-click anywhere to see the Copy PlainText option. It doesn't get easier than this. But, the job's only half done. The next step is to use the copied content. Go to the page where you want to paste it, say Gmail. Right-click in the page and select the Paste PlainText option. You can use the regular paste too, because the content is in the clipboard.

Paste PlainText

Note: The Copy PlainText context menu item does not appear when no text is selected.

So, how do you configure the extension?

Go to the Firefox Add-ons page and select Copy PlainText > Options. There are just two settings that you can modify. You can enable the "Remove Line Indent" option which will remove the leading spaces of each line (first space of every line).

The other option is to change the shortcut key, which by default is set to use F7. Since F7 enables "Caret browsing", I recommend changing it to something else. You can even set up a combination Control/Alt + Shift + Any other key. For e.g. Control + Shift + Space.

Tip: Click on the recycle bin icon on the Settings page to restore the original shortcut.

Want to see how it works?

Use the normal copy option first to see the difference. Go to an Amazon page (or any page that has a lot of text formatting) and copy a product listing along with the title and other text elements.

normal copy firefox

Now try pasting it in your email composer or any web page with a text field. It should use the original formatting.

normal paste firefox

Repeat the same process with Copy PlainText. It's simple, yet efficient and could save you some time.

Copy PlainText is from the same developer who made the excellent FoxyTab add-on.

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  1. Matthew Borcherding said on November 27, 2019 at 4:07 am

    I’ve been using the program PureText for years, and it works great with any program. Copy something, press , and you paste in plain, unformatted text.

    Simple, tiny, low ram usage, and free.

  2. Peterc said on November 27, 2019 at 3:46 am

    In Pale Moon and Waterfox Classic, I use a legacy extension called Copy Plain Text 2. In the past, I’m pretty sure I used it with the last version of Firefox to support legacy extensions, and I gather it still supports Thunderbird. (It can be found on the Thunderbird Add-ons site.) I don’t use Waterfox often, but in Pale Moon I use Copy Plain Text 2 on a pretty regular basis.

    In modern Firefox, I run Copy PlainText but can’t *personally* speak to how well it works, since I rarely use modern Firefox. I expect it works just fine. Copy PlainText has fewer customization options than Copy Plain Text 2, but that’s par for the course with WebExtensions.

    I never got into the habit of using Ctrl-Shift-V to “paste as plain text” in Firefox or Pale Moon because, for a long time, I had an extension that hijacked that shortcut for itself. It took me quite a while to get around to changing the hijacking extension’s shortcut, and by then the damage was done: I was in the habit of *copying* as plain text instead.

    If you use the format-stripping workaround of copying, pasting into a text editor, copying again, and pasting somewhere else, I’d steer clear of Notepad (for Windows 7, at least) and use a different text editor instead, like Notepad++. Among Notepad’s many other shortcomings, it apparently doesn’t display certain kinds of line breaks, even when it preserves them. That can make proofreading difficult and potentially create extra work if you add the “missing” line breaks manually.

  3. Anonymous said on November 26, 2019 at 8:27 am

    I copy a lot of text from webpages.

    AutocopySelection2Clipboard by Dook
    1) automatically copies the selected text to the copy buffer
    2) ability to format copied text to plain text

    extension page

    1. Sasika said on April 3, 2022 at 1:52 pm

      It was removed by Mozilla since version 5.0 had obnoxious skeuomorphic UI.

    2. owl said on November 27, 2019 at 10:12 am


      Certainly very convenient!
      Everything is easy and the operation can be simplified.
      Until now, I am using the Copy PlainText, but I switched.

  4. Reggie said on November 25, 2019 at 11:30 pm

    I’ve been using this add-on for years. Works well for me.

  5. Rando said on November 25, 2019 at 1:52 pm

    you can also ctrl+v, crtrl+a, ctrl+x into notepad/gedit/.. for no additional plugin/software.

  6. JF Berne said on November 25, 2019 at 1:25 pm

    I select the text I want to copy, then press Ctrl-F: the selection lands in the Find bar, where it is stripped of any formatting.
    I then select the content of the Find bar, do Ctrl-C and I have pure text in the clipboard.

  7. said on November 25, 2019 at 1:01 pm

    as @Lecquio said, Ctrl+Shift+V will paste text absent the formatting – i find this a preferable alternative to installing yet another add-on and it’s as fast or faster than setting up hotkeys or accessing context menus

  8. chesscanoe said on November 25, 2019 at 12:15 pm

    Under Windows 10 I do not use Firefox, but Chrome. I configured Notepad++ currently at version 7.8.1 to strip formatting and it has served me well for years.

  9. Graham said on November 25, 2019 at 10:00 am
    1. Jojo said on November 25, 2019 at 8:22 pm

      Yes, there are many clipboard managers and I have tried a few others over the years but Clipmate had an excellent, easy to use UI that many other such apps don’t have.

      Plus a lot of function such as what I named above. Another function they have is a the ability to get the URL along with anything you copy. This is great for when I post something to the net weeks later and can point people to the original clip easily.

      I actually use Clipmate as a mini dB. I have about 19k clips in hundreds of folders taking up ~100mb of clips! [lol]

      1. TimH said on November 26, 2019 at 5:08 pm

        Climate is still around

      2. Jojo said on November 27, 2019 at 3:16 am

        Yes, you can still download Clipmate but it hasn’t been updated in years and am not sure if there is any support. The webpage forum for support was also closed down years ago. The author says to email him for support but I don’t know if he is answering as, again, the program has not been updated in years. If you look under the support tab, you can see that the last OS the author references is Vista!

        The author pissed off a lot of people because his support was slow, when it was provided and then he up and closed shop with no explanation.

        If you download the progam, it will work fully for 30 days or so, then you’ll need a key, which is $35.

  10. Lecquio said on November 25, 2019 at 9:51 am

    I recently discovered Ctrl + Shift + V and I love it

    1. Jason said on November 25, 2019 at 6:38 pm

      I was about to say. :)

      And in the 1% of cases where that doesn’t work, just paste the text into a notepad application and re-copy it from there.

  11. Jojo said on November 25, 2019 at 7:41 am

    Yup, that can be a real problem. Luckily, I have been using a Windows clipboard program for over 10 years that has a function integrated called “Strip out non-TEXT data formats”. Single click operation, works across all browsers and has been very handy over the years.

    Sadly, the program, Clipmate, is no longer supported and hasn’t been updated in years although it continues to work in Win10.

    I wish someone would make a copy of the program because there are all sorts of useful functions. Like Case conversion of text, reformating text, removing line breaks and much more.

    1. Gerard said on November 25, 2019 at 1:47 pm

      Other clipboard managers have this feature as well. CopyQ, a cross-platform (Linux, OS X, MS Windows) application, comes to mind. Provided you have to set a shortcut for the ‘Paste as Plain Text’ feature in the Preferences.

      I’ve used other clipboard managers with such a feature as well, but can’t remember the details.

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