Offscreen Text for Copy & Paste

By  on  

The relationship between HTML and CSS is special: mixing content via HTML with presentation from CSS to make an awesome presentation. Sometimes, however, you need to employ CSS tricks solely to enhance functionality. This could be one of those cases.

When browsing through the Firefox DevTools console code, I noticed a really clever technique for hiding text on screen but making sure it's present during a copy + paste. Here's the technique:

<p>Jenny don't change your number <span class="copy-only">8675309</span></p>
.copy-only {
  display: block;
  position: absolute;
  left: -9999999px;
  top: -9999999px;
}

With the CSS above, the screen displays "Jenny don't change your number" while copying that line would result in "Jenny don't change your number 8675309".

When you plant the text offscreen via CSS, it's still copied to the clipboard when the user does a copy operation. You're essentially picking and choosing what gets copied, which can be very valuable if you expect users to copy your content.

Recent Features

  • By
    Vibration API

    Many of the new APIs provided to us by browser vendors are more targeted toward the mobile user than the desktop user.  One of those simple APIs the Vibration API.  The Vibration API allows developers to direct the device, using JavaScript, to vibrate in...

  • By
    CSS @supports

    Feature detection via JavaScript is a client side best practice and for all the right reasons, but unfortunately that same functionality hasn't been available within CSS.  What we end up doing is repeating the same properties multiple times with each browser prefix.  Yuck.  Another thing we...

Incredible Demos

  • By
    Using jQuery and MooTools Together

    There's yet another reason to master more than one JavaScript library: you can use some of them together! Since MooTools is prototype-based and jQuery is not, jQuery and MooTools may be used together on the same page. The XHTML and JavaScript jQuery is namespaced so the...

  • By
    MooTools FontChecker Plugin

    There's a very interesting piece of code on Google Code called FontAvailable which does a jQuery-based JavaScript check on a string to check whether or not your system has a specific font based upon its output width. I've ported this functionality to MooTools. The MooTools...

Discussion

  1. Charlie

    Very nice, gotta love those little CSS tweaks.
    Small caveat, only works if the user double-clicks on line to select, won’t if it’s a “click-hold on first letter and drag cursor” kind of copy

  2. Does it work in all browsers? It’s very easy to use and simple, but I’m concerned that it could be too simple to work in every browser.

  3. These simple and small tweaks help a long way in designing. Thanks a lot for sharing :)

Wrap your code in <pre class="{language}"></pre> tags, link to a GitHub gist, JSFiddle fiddle, or CodePen pen to embed!