Let’s Fix Paste!
Okay, this is a rant.
Cut and paste is broken in most apps today. More specifically, it is paste that is broken. There are two choices in just about every application: “Paste” and “Paste correctly.” Sometimes the latter one is labeled “Paste and Match Style” (Apple) and sometimes “Paste Special” (Microsoft).
However, they have it backwards. Usually, what you want to do is the latter one, which is why I called it “paste correctly.” It is the exception that you want to preserve the fonts, formatting etc. Usually, you want to just paste the damned text in.
I mean, Jesus Hussein Christ, how hard is it to understand that when I go to a web page and copy something and then paste it into my document that I want to use MY fonts, formatting, color, and so on? Even if I do want to preserve those, I ESPECIALLY do not want you to leave my cursor sitting at the end of the paste switched out of whatever my setting I’m using. In the rare occasion that I want paste as it is done today, the keys I type are:
modifier-V ! Paste (modifier is either (ironically) command or control) start typing ! Continue on my merry way modifier-Z ! Oh, crap, I'm no longer in my font, modifier-Z ! I'm in Web2.0Nerd Grotesque 10 light-grey ! undo the typing and the paste space, back-arrow ! Get some room modifier-V ! Paste forward-arrow ! Get back to my formatting (delete) ! Optionally delete the space start typing again ! Now where was I? Oh, yeah....
Note the extra flourish at the end because pasting is so helpful.
The usual sequence I type is:
modifier-V ! Paste modifier-Z ! %$#@*! search Edit menu ! Gawd, where is it, what do they call it? select Paste Correctly ! Oh, there start typing again ! Now where was I? Oh, yeah....
This is much simpler, but has its own headaches. First of all, Microsoft binds their “Paste Special” to control-alt-V and brings up a modal dialog because there are lots of options you could conceivably want, and just wanting to paste the %$#@&* text is so, so special. Apple (whose devos must long for the Knight keyboard) binds it to command-option-shift-V, but at least doesn’t make me deal with Clippy’s dumber cousin. They put “Paste Style” on command-option-V, which pastes into place only the formatting. Oh, yeah, like I do that so often I need a keyboard shortcut.
The upshot is that the user experience here is so bad that the stupid blog editor I’m using here that actually makes me type in my own <p> tags is a more predictable editing experience. I can actually achieve flow while I’m writing.
Most tellingly, the most even, consistent, out-of-my way editing experience is getting to be LaTeX! Yeah, I have to type accents by hand, but at least I don’t lose my train of thought every time I paste.
The solution is simple. Make modifier-V be paste. Just plain old paste. Put paste-with-frosting on control-meta-cokebottle-V and give it a helpful dialog box. Please?
Photo by adam.coulombe.