Alex Alex - 4 months ago 79x
Javascript Question

JavaScript get clipboard data on paste event (Cross browser)

How can a web application detect a paste event and retrieve the data to be pasted?

I would like to remove HTML content before the text is pasted into a rich text editor.

Cleaning the text after being pasted afterwards works, but the problem is that all previous formatting is lost. For example, I can write a sentence in the editor and make it bold, but when I paste new text, all formatting is lost. I want to clean just the text that is pasted, and leave any previous formatting untouched.

Ideally, the solution should work across all modern browsers (e.g., MSIE, Gecko, Chrome, and Safari).

Note that MSIE has

, but I could not find similar functionality for other browsers.


The situation has changed since writing this answer: now that Firefox has added support in version 22, all major browsers now support accessing the clipboard data in a paste event. See Nico Burns's answer for an example.

In the past this was not generally possible in a cross-browser way. The ideal would be to be able to get the pasted content via the paste event, which is possible in recent browsers but not in some older browsers (in particular, Firefox < 22).

When you need to support older browsers, what you can do is quite involved and a bit of a hack that will work in Firefox 2+, IE 5.5+ and WebKit browsers such as Safari or Chrome. Recent versions of both TinyMCE and CKEditor use this technique:

  1. Detect a ctrl-v / shift-ins event using a keypress event handler
  2. In that handler, save the current user selection, add a textarea element off-screen (say at left -1000px) to the document, turn designMode off and call focus() on the textarea, thus moving the caret and effectively redirecting the paste
  3. Set a very brief timer (say 1 millisecond) in the event handler to call another function that stores the textarea value, removes the textarea from the document, turns designMode back on, restores the user selection and pastes the text in.

Note that this will only work for keyboard paste events and not pastes from the context or edit menus. By the time the paste event fires, it's too late to redirect the caret into the textarea (in some browsers, at least).

In the unlikely event that you need to support Firefox 2, note that you'll need to place the textarea in the parent document rather than the WYSIWYG editor iframe's document in that browser.