How do I get unmodified text content from the clipboard? If you copy the following into the clipboard and use ClipboardNotebook[] \[IndentingNewLine] is interpreted as \n:


and run

  NotebookGet@ClipboardNotebook[] /. 
   Cell[r_, ___] :> Block[{}, Throw[r, tag] /; True];
  $Failed, tag]


Apologies if there is something in alternative to ClipboardNotebook, I haven't found it.

  • $\begingroup$ So actually you need an analog of the MS Word command Paste Special ► Plain text, right? $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 26, 2016 at 22:24
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexeyPopkov Ideally yes although this question is slightly different. $\endgroup$
    – William
    Commented Apr 5, 2016 at 3:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Liam - what happens if you try to paste into a "Code" cell? If I create a code cell, and just hit Ctrl-v, then I get the same thing as if I manually type f[\[NewLine]] $\endgroup$
    – Jason B.
    Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 22:06
  • $\begingroup$ @JasonB code cell works but it isn't what I am after. I would like to programatically modify the clipboard. $\endgroup$
    – William
    Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 23:33
  • $\begingroup$ You say you need this for Linux but the question is tagged Windows. Can you correct this? $\endgroup$
    – Szabolcs
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 8:58

3 Answers 3


The following works for Windows borrowed mostly from here.


For completion here is how you do it in linux.

Import["!xsel --clipboard","Text"]
  • $\begingroup$ Note that xsel is not installed by default on Ubuntu. $\endgroup$
    – Ruslan
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 18:34
  • $\begingroup$ @Ruslan do you have an alternative recommendation. $\endgroup$
    – William
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 19:47
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ No, it seems all X11 clipboard-related utilities are not installed by default. So you have to just warn the user that he may need to install xsel via (for Ubuntu/Debian) sudo apt-get install xsel for your answer to work. $\endgroup$
    – Ruslan
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 20:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Ruslan if you post answer I'll give you the bounty I can't give it to myself. $\endgroup$
    – William
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 20:27
  • $\begingroup$ It wouldn't add anything new: I'm just suggesting you to improve this answer by adding a note about xsel (which you use here!) being not by default installed — it can still be easily installed, but the user must actually do this. $\endgroup$
    – Ruslan
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 20:28

And lastly OSX I haven't tested this on OSX yet but believe it should work.


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