Is there a way to copy and paste code snippets from SE to Mathematica if these snippets are interspersed with text?

Like e.g. in Morphing Graphics, color and location in both the question and answer, there are code blocks separated by text and graphics.

Pasting this into Mathematica in n steps is tiresome. Perhaps there is some nice way to make pasting as comfortable as the other way round with the code and graphics palettes?


4 Answers 4


Code extractor using the StackExchange API

The following code uses the 2.0 version of the SE API and has also been cleaned up a bit (place it in your kernel's init.m or your custom functions package if you'd like to be able to use it anytime).

The function takes a single string argument, which is the URL obtained from the share link under a question/answer.


enter image description here

importCode[url_String] := 
  filterCode = StringCases[#, ("<pre><code>" ~~ ("\n" ...) ~~ x__ ~~ ("\n" ...) ~~ 
          "</code></pre>") /; StringFreeQ[x, "<pre><code>" | "</code></pre>"] :> x] &, 

  convertEntities = StringReplace[#, 
    {"&gt;" -> ">", "&lt;" -> "<", "&amp;" -> "&", "&quot;" -> "\""}] &, 

  makeCodeCell = Scan[NotebookWrite[EvaluationNotebook[], 
    Cell[Defer@#, "Input", CellTags -> "Ignore"]] &, Flatten@{#}] &, 

  postInfo = Import[ToString@
    #3, #1] & @@ {First@StringCases[#, Shortest[s__] ~~ "." ~~ ___ :> s], #2, #3} & @@ 
    StringSplit[StringDrop[url, 7], "/"][[;; 3]], "JSON"]}, 

  OptionValue["items" /. postInfo, "body"] // filterCode // convertEntities // 

NOTE: I don't do any rigorous error checking or check to see if you're entering a valid Stack Exchange URL or if the question/answer is deleted (deleted posts cannot be accessed via the API), etc. So if you get any errors, it might be worthwhile to check if there's something wrong on the site.

Also, SE API limits you to 300 calls/day/IP, if I remember correctly. That's quite a lot of calls for any reasonable person and ideally, you shouldn't cross that. Nevertheless, a possibility of being throttled is something to keep in mind if you also happen to be playing with the API for other purposes such as site statistics, etc.

  • $\begingroup$ Could it grab the URL from the clipboard? $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 14:55
  • $\begingroup$ @Verde You could add a definition: importCode[] := importCode[ First@Cases[NotebookGet@ClipboardNotebook[], Cell[x_, ___] :> x, Infinity]] which will copy whatever is in the clipboard (no checks to see if it is a URL or not), but I don't think this is useful as the chances of you having forgotten and copied something else is high... pasting it as an argument shouldn't be hard and I would prefer explicit over clipboard copy :) $\endgroup$
    – rm -rf
    Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 15:16
  • $\begingroup$ The call throttling problem can be circumvented if you use an API key. I've written about that before. I believe it was in my SO API answer that you were referring to in a comment above. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 26, 2012 at 6:39
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @R.M. If there was an animated gif to show how it works would be very good. $\endgroup$
    – LCarvalho
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 12:50
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I take the liberty to use NotebookWrite instead of CellPrint according to the discussion in mathematica.stackexchange.com/q/269955/1871. Feel free to rollback if you don't like it :) . $\endgroup$
    – xzczd
    Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 6:33

You could do something like this:

string = "(Paste Here)"

exps = Select[
   string ~StringSplit~ "\n\n",
   SyntaxQ@# && ! MatchQ[MakeExpression@#, _@__Times | _@Null] &];

CellPrint@Cell[#, "Input"] & ~Scan~ exps
  • $\begingroup$ Works splendidly! I´ll refrain from ranting about prodigious use of infix. $\endgroup$
    – Yves Klett
    Commented Mar 24, 2012 at 9:39
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I am more of a prefix person, myself. Mind you, some of my best friends are infix users ;-) $\endgroup$
    – Yves Klett
    Commented Mar 24, 2012 at 9:53
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Yves so you write Map[f, #]& @ x in that case? :o) $\endgroup$
    – Mr.Wizard
    Commented Mar 24, 2012 at 9:55
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ For my sins! I am an infix addict after all. Perhaps someone could analyze submitted code for the predominant syntax flavors? I´d upvote that no end :-) $\endgroup$
    – Yves Klett
    Commented Mar 24, 2012 at 10:02
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Sjoerd it filters out lines that do parse, but parse to Times[___] (such as this is text and not code) or Null (such as a line return). $\endgroup$
    – Mr.Wizard
    Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 0:24

I posted a possible answer for this on meta (Download questions or chats for offline reading), but perhaps it belongs here on the main site instead. I have a paclet that downloads a stack exchange question url, and creates a notebook version where code blocks are evaluatable.

It can be downloaded from:


Download the .paclet file, and then run:


To use, do:

NotebookPut @ StackExchangeView["http://mathematica.stackexchange.com/q/3535/45431"]

where I use this question as an example (the NotebookPut won't be necessary when the paclet is final). The following is snippet of what the notebook output looks like:

enter image description here

I use Import[url, "XMLObject"] instead of the Stack Exchange api (since I didn't know about the api when I started), so I need to investigate the merits of using the api or not.

It is also possible to use style key tabbing (tab at the start of a cell), shift-enter and right click to modify "StackExchange" styled cells to a markdown version, a hybrid WYSIWIG version, or a deployed version (although this aspect is a bit buggy). This is what the notebook looks like after converting the snippet to the deployed version:

enter image description here

As you can see, the deployed version still needs work (h2 and * formatting)

Feed back is welcomed.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Carl, excellent! Definitely belongs here as well. $\endgroup$
    – Yves Klett
    Commented Mar 19, 2017 at 17:19

The StackAPI answer seems really nice, however it failed for me when I tested it, so I coded a bare bones implimentation which simply pulls out any code blocks from an arbitrary html page, without needing it to be from stackexchange, or even well formed html:

 codeBlocks[url_] := CellPrint[
   Cell[#, "Input"] & /@ 
     StringCases[Import[url, "Source"], 
     "<pre><code>" ~~ p : (Shortest[___]) ~~ "</code></pre>" :> p]]
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ could you share the exact call you made that failed? What error did you get? A bunch of badly formed string boxes? $\endgroup$
    – rm -rf
    Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 13:57
  • $\begingroup$ @R.M I ran the code posted in the answer and the suggested command StackAPI`GetCode["http://meta.mathematica.stackexchange.com/a/307/5"], which returned a set of errors from StringCasesand StringReplace. Seems like the call to the API is failing, returning {"answers" -> {}, "page" -> 1, "pagesize" -> 30, "total" -> 0} from the Import. $\endgroup$
    – jVincent
    Commented Aug 23, 2012 at 8:53
  • $\begingroup$ For some reason, I wasn't pinged by this comment from you back in August. Anyway, the reason it failed for you is because this question was originally on meta (which is where I wrote this answer) and then it was migrated here. The suggested command pointed to the original, but since it was deleted, you couldn't retrieve it using the API (This was something I had mentioned in the post). In any case, my answer used v1.0 of the API, which was bound to fail at some point since they've deprecated it. I updated my answer today with a new version (using API v2.0), which is when I saw this comment. $\endgroup$
    – rm -rf
    Commented Feb 16, 2013 at 0:40

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