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Word changes a Paste Text option

Microsoft Word 365 is changing the default paste action, which is a noticeable difference. You should know some important details and how to make the change now for any version of Microsoft Word. Plus some unclear points in Microsoft’s explanation of the change.

Word 365 is only changing the default paste option for text coming from other programs. In other words, text copied from a web page, email or other program. 

Even that isn’t 100% clear because, as we’ll see, Microsoft’s own explanations conflict.

No change in Paste choices

Microsoft is NOT changing or adding any Paste options. All they are doing is changing what happens to some paste actions unless you choose something else (i.e. the default).

You can still change the default action and the other options are still available from File
 Options | Advanced | Cut, copy and paste.

The change is that “Pasting from other programs” becomes “Merge Formatting” as shown above.

This default change is a long time coming.  The old default of ‘Keep Source Formatting’ made little sense. Some Word users changed the default to “Merge Formatting” years before Microsoft finally woke up.

Or maybe not….

There’s a little confusion because of this incorrect message that appears in current releases.

“We changed the default paste options for content copied from outside your current document”

That’s WRONG … the change only applies to content from other programs. The message should say.

“We changed the default paste option for content copied from outside Word.”

Perhaps the current wording reflects an earlier test which changed more paste defaults?

Why the default change is a GOOD move

Pasted content almost always needs to use the current documents formatting, not the way it looked in the source document.  So, the default change to ‘Merge Formatting’ makes sense.

The real question isn’t why the default is changing but instead why was it ‘Keep Source Formatting’ at all and for so long?

Microsoft is always boasting about how they listen to feedback.  But really the company follows a Paul Simon lyricA man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest”.

What about other versions of Word?

At this point the default paste change only applies to Insiders Word 365 for Windows (from v2405 build 17624.20000) and it’ll eventually spread to the public (Current Channel) releases.

No need to wait because the paste defaults can be changed at any time.  Not just for Word 365 but also Word for Windows in Office 2021, 2019, 2016 and earlier.

In any modern version of Word go to File | Options | Advanced | Cut, copy and paste then change ‘Pasting from other programs…’

To keep the previous default change the setting to ‘Keep Source Formatting’.

Word for Mac doesn’t have a similar set of choices, just the Home | Paste button options.

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Inside Smart Copy and Paste in Word

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