Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. 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.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 23, 2019)
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 Office Support that address the issue for older and newer versions of the program:
Note that the articles are focused on entirely different versions of Excel and entirely different causes. Apparently, Microsoft has begun to listen to Excel users that have complained about this annoying error message. As noted in the second article listed above, in 2016 "we made some improvements to Office 365 users so that this error message only shows once per Excel instance." A quick Google search for the error message shows that it still occasionally 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, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Can't Empty the Clipboard.
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