Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Can't Copy Data between Workbooks.

Can't Copy Data between Workbooks

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 5, 2013)


Neil has Excel installed on several PCs in his office. On most of these he can copy data from one workbook to another workbook with no problems. On one of the PCs, although he can copy data from one worksheet to another worksheet in the same workbook, Neil cannot copy data to a different workbook.

More than likely this has to do with how the two workbooks are opened on the problem machine. If you open the workbooks in two different instances of Excel, then copying and pasting between instances is not the same as when the workbooks are opened in the same instance. If you open the two workbooks in different instances of Excel, then when you go to paste information into the target workbook, you get the results of whatever formulas you are copying instead of the original formulas. (This is just one example; there are other pasting differences as well.)

The solution is to make sure that the workbooks are opened in the same instance of Excel. The easiest way to do this is to make sure that once the first workbook is open, you open the second workbook by using the Open dialog box within Excel. If you instead use the Windows Start menu or a desktop icon to open the second workbook, you are opening a second instance of the program.

If this doesn't solve the problem for you, then you should make sure that there is no macro running in the target workbook or worksheet when it is activated. Look for code in the ThisWorkbook module and any other worksheet module in the target workbook's VBA project. If you do find a macro there, then it could be that the macro is altering what is in the Clipboard or clearing it out entirely. You'll need to do some detective work to figure out if this is the case.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (8034) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Can't Copy Data between Workbooks.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is 3 + 4?

2016-11-24 17:27:30


I want to bring a date from worksheet 1 to worksheet 2 and place it in a particular cell B5. I am able to move the date to other cells on worksheet 2 but not to the cell where I want it to go B5. When I use the function "=Worksheet1Li" to move the cell contents of L1 to cell B5 of worksheet 2, what appears in B5 is "Worksheet!L1" and not the contents of L1.

2016-09-24 03:58:53


VCA 2016 P3D (SS Noorfizah).xlsx cannot be merged into the current workbook. Workbooks to be merged must be copies made from the same shared workbook, and must all maintain the change history for a sufficient amount of time.

2016-07-22 08:53:21


I have problem whenever i copy from one excel sheet 2013 and i want to paste in another sheet on 2013, it will only be spinning . but if you paste value, it will do immediately but if paste normal paste, it will not. please help, what could cause this and hoe can i resolve it?

2016-05-06 01:21:54

Mubariz Jafarov

If Fnum > 0 Then
For Fnum = LBound(MyFiles) To UBound(MyFiles)

'open file
Set mybook = Workbooks.Open(MyPath & MyFiles(Fnum))

With wsTotal

'activate if you want (optional)

'copy all the data on the sheet

'find the next empty row
nextRow = .Range("A1").SpecialCells(xlCellTypeLastCell).Row + 1

'select if desired (optional)
.Cells(nextRow, 1).Select

'paste the data
.Cells(nextRow, 1).PasteSpecial (xlPasteValues)

'turn off copy mode
Application.CutCopyMode = False

'Do you really want to change the worksheet name?
' .Name = mybook.Name
End With

'close file
mybook.Close savechanges:=False

Ihave 30 files with 34000 row.
this makros can copy only 34200 row. I need copy paste 150000row
Haw I can extend count of copy paste rows?

2016-05-02 16:16:51


This was helpful - Thanks!

2016-03-26 05:58:16


i am not able to copy and insert copied cells in the same spread sheet.

2016-03-01 11:10:01


Amazing that you figured this out! Thank you so much for publishing! I was getting so frustrated with this.

2016-02-12 14:59:39


You are a Rock Star!!! I have been trying to cut and paste between workbooks in 2003 and 2010 all day. I searched everything I could find on this issue and had no luck. Opening in the same instance did the trick!

Thank you!

2016-01-29 02:19:56


dear sir problem for my ms office excel 2007 page click for mouse wright not for cut and copy option not show

2016-01-26 11:16:27

Chris Snyder

didn't see below - THANKS to Wei Wang for finding this problem... I read this before but didn't know to what he was referring. I really like my Excel 2000... it doesn't reset my Sort Criteria, and can be set to remember the last 9 files I opened even when I do a disk cleanup.

2016-01-26 10:59:58

Chris Snyder

I'm no expert - and this problem drove me nuts. Not sure if for others, but there was a macro that I don't think I put in.

Had to get to VBA editor/projects? then saw this under macros for "This Workbook"

Private Sub Workbook_Activate()
Application.DisplayFormulaBar = True
End Sub

When I deleted this all copying from one workbook to another worked fine.

I found it by disabling all macros after I reinstalled Excel 2000 (I'm sure this can be done in Excel 2007 but I never saw how - the option pops up when I open a file in 2003 [now I have to figure out how to stop this warning]). Then I could copy. After clearing this is works fine with Excel 2007. I'm going to keep Excel 2000... I think MS does too much 'user friendly' junk with 2007 that I have to waste time figuring out how to disable - also glad to have my old shortcuts back (like Ctrl-V for print preview, and Ctrl-C to close a file).. icons at top are nice but my hands are already at the keyboard so I don't have to move the mouse.

2015-08-17 16:20:12


I encounter this error, "destination folder contains all kinds of 'names'"

2015-03-26 17:17:31

Wei Wang

I had this problem. The cause is as follows. Each of the following assignments clears the clipboard when the workbook is activated.

Private Sub Workbook_Activate()

ActiveWindow.DisplayHorizontalScrollBar = True
ActiveWindow.DisplayVerticalScrollBar = True

With Application
.DisplayFormulaBar = True .DisplayStatusBar = True
End With

End Sub

2014-12-04 07:52:43


I have a user with Excel 2013 installed on her workstation. However when she opens files that were built in Excel 2003 and tries to copy and paste the data into 2013 a conflict happens on the workstation and the system locks up. Is there a way stop this?

2014-09-08 10:18:57

John H

On a daily basis, I open two different workbooks; I need data on two screens. I have been using MS Excel 2010 Ver 14.0.7128.5000 for years and until last week I never had this problem, did an update get pushed out?
Why would MS not allow this operation to occur?
I found a work-around on line “paste into the second workbook via paste data as a link and then copy again and paste in the proper location”.
Again Why?

2014-02-16 18:24:59

Craig DeGeer

I have added a macro in the ThisWorkbook module that is affecting the ability to copy data from the sheet with the code to another worksheet in the workbook or from another sheet to that sheet with the code. So, I know that the code is the issue, I just don't know if there is any way to avoid this problem.

2013-10-06 03:12:25

Mr Paul Anthony Malycha

Your "Please Note:" at the top of the article includes Excel 2013 version.
I have Excel 2013 and can not open more than ONE workbook in each instance of Excel.
I understand this has been built into Excel 2013 by Microsoft. I am not sure it was a very smart thing to do as Workspaces can no longer be created which was a useful operation, for me anyway!
I would like to be corrected if anyone knows how to set-up Workspaces with multiple Workbooks in Excel 2013?

2013-10-05 21:34:06

Karl Vacek

Another place to check is the form of workbook. I often update older workbooks saved as .xls and all my boilerplate formulas,, etc. are in an .xslm workbook. Excel won't permit that - and gives an error message about the number of columns and rows not being equal. Save the target workbook as .xslm, close it, reopen it, and start copying.

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