Mac OS X: Changing How Apple Mail Copies E-mail Addresses

The default way to copy e-mail addresses out of Apple Mail doesn’t work well because it copies both the email address and sender’s name, which is probably more than you want or need. Apple doesn’t offer an easy way to change that, but there is a Terminal trick that can do it for you.

In Apple Mail, hovering over an e-mail address that’s in the “To” or “From” field shows a drop-down arrow that you can click to reveal a hidden menu. If you then choose “Copy Address,” well, the address isn’t all that’s copied. Apple, in their infinite wisdom, decided that in Snow Leopard, the information that’s copied looks like this:

Testy McTesterson <>

And that’s completely fine if what you’re doing is pasting the address back into the “To” field of a new message, but it’s pretty frustrating if you need to paste it as text somewhere.


This problem indeed makes me testy.


To switch this so that the e-mail address alone is all that’s copied (minus the person’s name and the angled brackets), open Terminal (in Applications > Utilities) and paste in the following, then hit Enter:

defaults write AddressesIncludeNameOnPasteboard -bool NO

Then just quit Mail and reopen it, and you’re golden. If you’d like to reverse this behavior back to the default, you can use the command above again, replacing “NO” with “YES.”