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.

Can't Empty the Clipboard

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 2, 2019)

8

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:

https://support.office.com/en-us/community?threadid=d0239f09-cb2d-4300-b19d-603795f909b7
https://support.office.com/en-us/community?threadid=224b2a59-8a0c-4897-baba-a481dd06e085

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.

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

Jumping to the End of Page after Enter

Imagine you start typing in a new document, and when you press the Enter key the cursor jumps a huge distance to the ...

Discover More

Styles for Lines, Dashes, and Arrows

Create a simple drawing object, and Excel makes some assumptions about how that object should appear. Excel provides a ...

Discover More

Determining the Current Page Number

While your macro is processing the text in your document, you may need a way to determine the current page number where ...

Discover More

Save Time and Supercharge Excel! Automate virtually any routine task and save yourself hours, days, maybe even weeks. Then, learn how to make Excel do things you thought were simply impossible! Mastering advanced Excel macros has never been easier. Check out Excel 2010 VBA and Macros today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

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

Switching Editing Location

Excel allows you to edit the contents of a cell in two places--"the cell itself or in the Formula bar. If you want to ...

Discover More

Using the Same Range Name on Different Worksheets

Defined names can be a great boon when working in a worksheet. Usually names are available throughout an entire workbook, ...

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. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. 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 0 + 2?

2018-09-24 12:11:29

Neil

I occasionally get the error, but it doesn't appear to have any effect on anything; the requested operation still goes through, so I just ignore it.


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.