Convert copy-and-pasted rich text (italic, bold, etc) to markdown instead of or in addition to HTML

When copying a chunk of text that contains rich text formatting and pasting into most apps, the rich text formatting is preserved. When pasting the same chunk into Obsidian, the rich text formatting seems to be converted into HTML tags by default. Because Obsidian uses markdown, I think it would be more useful to have it converted to markdown by default (or at least given the option).

If that’s not clear, then I hope the following is helpful.

When pasting text into Google Docs, Text Edit, etc. I get an output like this:

James Clear. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones. New York, NY: Avery, 2018.

The exact same clipboard entry produces this in Obsidan:

James Clear. <i>Atomic Habits: An Easy &#38; Proven Way to Build Good Habits &#38; Break Bad Ones</i>. New York, NY: Avery, 2018.

What I’m saying is that I wish it would instead produce this:

James Clear. _Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones._ New York, NY: Avery, 2018.

Because it always helps to just show something whenever possible, I recorded a quick demonstration of what I’m talking about in 30 seconds. In it, I simply paste a chunk of text containing italics and an ampersand into Obsidian, Google Docs, and Text Edit to compare the outputs.

That said, there are some weird things I’ve noticed while exploring this. If I paste into Google Docs or Text Edit, copy what I just pasted from either of those apps, and then paste that into Obsidian, I get this:

James Clear. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones. New York, NY: Avery, 2018.

I’d actually prefer this plaintext output over the HTML output, but markdown output would still be my top choice.

So, maybe all of this is actually a bug? Or maybe it’s partly a feature request and partly a bug? Most (but not all) other apps seem to preserve formatting, so if it’s a bug then I don’t think it’s another program’s bug – but of course, I’m not a programmer. I’m just trying to make sure I include all the information you might want.

One more odd thing worth mentioning is that the behavior I’m talking about doesn’t seem entirely consistent. When I copy directly from Zotero (instead of from Zotero by way of ZotHero), it outputs the plaintext formatting in Obsidian. But it still outputs the desired rich text formatting in Google Docs and Text Edit. As far as I can tell, ZotHero itself is just copying from Zotero, so this is all quite mysterious to me. What is consistent is that other programs seem to always paste what I want, but Obsidian never pastes the markdown I want.

In any case, I hope I’ve made the desired behavior clear and done a good job of scouting this out. Thank you for considering.

14 Likes

I suggest 2 mode:

  • paste as plain text
  • paste as Markdown (by default)

Typora works the same.

1 Like

Hello all,
I am enjoying the process of learning Obsidian and how it may fit into my daily workflow. I have been a long-time Dynalist user and find that if I copy/paste a bulleted outline from Dynalist to Obsidian -all the formatting is lost. This means I spend an inordinate amount of time fixing formatting issues.

Is there any sort of trick to get around this problem? Is this a feature request? I assume so because it doesn’t seem that Obsidian is very good at retaining formatting of copy/pasted text in general.

An aside: Roam is incredibly friendly when it comes to copy/pasting from Dynalist, websites, and any other sources.

Thanks!

1 Like

The different paste mechanics on most software are:
Ctrl+V for formatted text
Ctrl+Shift+V for plain text

It’d be really nice to have this in Obsidian!

5 Likes

Has anyone figured out a solution to this? As others have mentioned, some other platforms support this natively.

This seems like a core functionality for interoperability with basic systems (e.g., outlook…) but definitely in order to make migrating notes from other systems into obsidian. Seems like there’s a few low-traffic topics that have all been merged.

This would be amazing to have. If it’s not going to be natively supported, maybe it’s possible to roll a plugin using something like turndown to do the heavy lifting?

1 Like

Yes, this would be a most welcome addition/upgrade. I found I can export from DynaList to a text file and copy and paste the portion I want into Obs with formatting preserved but it is an extra step out of the way of workflow. Thanks.

Copying\drag and drop from HTML will result in markdown conversion starting from 0.10.1

1 Like

You guys are so amazing!! :smiley:

Agreed, I use Ctrl-Shift-V regularly throughout most apps and it works in most places. Have been surprised to find it doing nothing in Obsidian. Definitely needs to be added!

What about the current implementation do you not like? I just copy from any website and paste (ctrl v) into Obsidian. It automatically turns it into markdown with all of the formatting intact as Markdown.