Message about a Problem with the Clipboard

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 17, 2018)


When Rod is working with Excel, he sometimes receives an error message stating "There's a problem with the clipboard, but you can still paste this content within this workbook." He wonders what causes this message and how he can get rid of it.

This is an odd little error message that, it seems, doesn't have a lot of purpose in Excel. As noted in the error message, if you can still paste the contents of the Clipboard, then the message is nothing but purely informational (as it doesn't really impede Excel). Even though it seems informational, it still slows down the use of Excel.

The message is apparently caused if you try to use Ctrl+C, Ctrl+X, the Format Painter tool, or a drag-and-drop operation and Excel detects that the Clipboard is locked by a non-Office application or, in some cases, simply accessed a non-Office application. You can find through a search of the Web that this problem has affected many users. (I did a search for "there's a problem with the clipboard, but you can still paste"—with the quote marks—and found lots of discussion about the issue.)

It also appears that this problem has been around for quite some time and that Microsoft has been playing whack-a-mole trying to track it down and fix it. Different reports indicate that it first cropped up in Excel 2013, but most experienced it beginning with Excel 2016. A potential fix that has worked for some people is to follow these steps:

  1. Display the File Tab of the ribbon.
  2. Click the Options button at the left side of the screen. Excel displays the Excel Options dialog box.
  3. Make sure that General is selected at the left side of the dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Excel Options dialog box.

  5. Clear the Enable Live Preview check box.
  6. Click on OK.
  7. Restart Excel.

If you experience the error and the above steps don't fix it, we may need to be content to know that Microsoft is aware of the problem and is trying to get it fixed. (I know that knowledge doesn't provide a whole lot of contentment to those experiencing the problem; it can be very frustrating.)

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (10691) applies to Microsoft Excel 2013 and 2016.

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 six more than 8?

2018-03-17 05:39:31


This has been drove me crazy finding in the past the error only happened when I had the very useful Spartan Clipboard Manager active.

Made the suggested change in Options and am keeping fingers crossed!

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