Is there a simple way to insert an org-mode link directly from the system clipboard? I'm thinking of selecting an URL in Safari, and inserting that link directly in an org-mode document.


Your question isn't very specific with respect to what type of link you want and what you would consider to be "simple". Assuming that you mean a link of the following form:


the default workflow (after putting the URL in your clipboard) is:

C-c C-l C-y RET description RET

Entering a description is optional; if you don't specify one, the link will be of the form

  • Simple enough. It works as expected on a Windows machine, but for some reason can't copy/paste an URL from Firefox or Safari into Emacs on MacOS with Emacs 25.0.50
    – Alain
    Nov 7 '14 at 23:13
  • @Alain I am not on MacOS so I can't test it, but you could try using x-clipboard-yank instead of yank to paste the contents of the clipboard. This command is not bound to a key by default, so you will have to call it using M-x. If that solves the problem, you can of course set up a convenient key binding for it (via (global-set-key (kbd "C-c y") 'x-clipboard-yank)).
    – itsjeyd
    Nov 7 '14 at 23:20

I've created an emacs package that may help you with inserting org-mode links from the clipboard:

It makes an HTTP request to the URL from the clipboard and if the response contains HTML it tries to extract the title and inserts the org-mode link in this format: [[URL][extracted-title]].

For example, after copying this question's link, doing M-x org-cliplink in an org-mode buffer will insert:

[[https://emacs.stackexchange.com/q/3280][org mode - Orgmode insert link from clipboard? - Emacs Stack Exchange]]

and the link will look hyperlinked as org mode - Orgmode insert link from clipboard? - Emacs Stack Exchange in that buffer.


Depending on which of the two you prefer, here are two functions that check to see if there's a URL on the clipboard and, if so, insert it at point as an org-mode link. The former does it in the form of [[url]], and the latter in the form of [[url][description]] and leaves you in the description field.

(defun insert-url-as-org-link-sparse ()
  "If there's a URL on the clipboard, insert it as an org-mode
link in the form of [[url]]."
  (let ((link (substring-no-properties (x-get-selection 'CLIPBOARD)))
        (url  "\\(http[s]?://\\|www\\.\\)"))
      (if (string-match url link)
          (insert (concat "[[" link "]]"))
        (error "No URL on the clipboard")))))

(defun insert-url-as-org-link-fancy ()
  "If there's a URL on the clipboard, insert it as an org-mode
link in the form of [[url][*]], and leave point at *."
  (let ((link (substring-no-properties (x-get-selection 'CLIPBOARD)))
        (url  "\\(http[s]?://\\|www\\.\\)"))
      (if (string-match url link)
            (insert (concat "[[" link "][]]"))
            (backward-char 2))
        (error "No URL on the clipboard")))))

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