Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. 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 Empty the Clipboard.

Can't Empty the Clipboard

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 3, 2015)

7

Jerry is trying to cut information from one cell and paste it into another cell. He can cut it just fine, but when he tries to paste it he gets an error message, "Cannot Empty the Clipboard." Jerry wonders what causes this error.

This has been a problem in Excel for some time. (Actually, the problem seems to crop up in several different Office applications, not just Excel.) It seems to be more prevalent in versions of Excel earlier than Excel 2007, but it has been reported in the latest versions, as well.

The solutions for the problem depend upon what is causing the problem and which version of Excel you are using. As an example, here are two different articles at the Microsoft Knowledge Base that address the issue for older versions of the program:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/196620
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/899266

Note that the articles are focused on entirely different versions of Excel and entirely different causes. Unfortunately, Microsoft hasn't seen fit to acknowledge that the problem exists in Excel 2007 or Excel 2010—at least not in the Knowledge Base—but there are reports of it happening in those versions. A quick Google search for the error message shows that it still routinely occurs in the latest versions of Excel.

Basically, the way you can fix this problem is to figure out what program (Windows add-on or third-party software) is interfering with how Excel wants to work with the Clipboard. You can do this by starting Windows with a "clean slate" (without any other programs running in the background). Add the programs back in, one at a time, until the problem crops up again. You can then determine whether you want to use the offending program or not.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (9810) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Can't Empty the Clipboard.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Using Non-Printing Notes

Adding notes to your document in Word is a handy tool. But what if you don't want those notes to be seen on the screen or ...

Discover More

Speeding Up Opening and Saving a Workbook

Use a workbook for some time and you may find that it gets progressively slower to open and save. Here are some techniques ...

Discover More

Adding Horizontal Lines at the Sides of a Word

Want to add a couple of horizontal lines at the sides of a word? It can be trickier than it sounds, but there are several ...

Discover More

Comprehensive VBA Guide Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is the language used for writing macros in all Office programs. This complete guide shows both professionals and novices how to master VBA in order to customize the entire Office suite for their needs. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2010 today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Changing Multiple Cells at Once

Excel includes several different methods of editing information in your cells. If you want to edit multiple cells all at the ...

Discover More

Jumping to a Range

Need a quick way to jump to a particular part of your worksheet? You can do it by using the Go To dialog box.

Discover More

Concatenating Ranges of Cells

Putting the contents of two cells together is easy. Putting together the contents of lots of cells is more involved, as ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is eight minus 8?

2017-01-01 04:38:22

Liam Xa

I had this error message in my spreadsheet when I tried to run macros (Macro 4.0). I removed the ECHO() command from the first line of the macro and the problem disappeared.


2016-05-10 20:22:56

Bill B

I take it back, Skype quit, and it's still doing it. The hunt goes on :(


2016-05-10 16:33:05

Bill B

Latest version of Excel (2016/365?) the culprit was Skype. Was consistently doing it, quit Skype and it was solved. Started Skype, problem was back.

Another reason to hate Skype, but also a great excuse to not have it running, so my boss can't bug me when he's offshore ;)


2015-07-02 04:16:06

Pertti

To me it seems that the culprit is the "Office Clipboard", not any additional blug-in or program installed into the system.

The problems are not limited to "Cannot Empty the Clipboard", but can also be noticed when doing large operations, which will be stored in the undo-buffer (Office clipboard) - Everything becomes sluggish and may even crash Excel completely.

Win7-64b, Office 2010-32b, Clean environment, 25yr IT-experience


2015-06-15 23:21:38

Gegurl

Hi...I have a problem when I do copy and paste. I copy one data and paste later I do another data I copy but it paste same first one data. So pls advice me what should I do...how to solve this problem...


2015-06-08 17:11:39

RAED

I use skitch ( by evernote)
once I close it, the error gone away
Thanks,,


2015-05-29 10:07:44

Mark

I was running google earth at the same time as excel and receiving this error message continually. Once I shut that down, the error ceased. thanks for the tip.


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.