Message about a Problem with the Clipboard

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 17, 2018)

4

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, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365.

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

Deleting Worksheets in a Macro

Processing workbooks using a macro often involves the possible creation and subsequent deletion of worksheets. When it ...

Discover More

Setting Up Your Printer

Word allows you to take full advantage of the capabilities of your printer. Accessing those capabilities is done through ...

Discover More

Viewing More of the Left Margin Area

When working in Draft or Normal view, you may want to view the area just to the left of the document's left margin. ...

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)

A Shortcut for Switching Focus

While not technically an Excel-only tip, the shortcuts described in this tip will help you switch focus from your ...

Discover More

Converting PDF to Excel

Reports and other formal documents are often distributed in PDF format so that they can be read and printed on a variety ...

Discover More

Displaying a Count of Zeros on the Status Bar

Excel allows you to display the results of several common worksheet functions on the status bar. The available functions ...

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 9 - 8?

2018-12-13 02:57:47

Peter Waite

thanks, works fine now


2018-08-29 10:39:48

James Woolley

When you are only interested in copying Excel's values to the clipboard (not formulas or formats), the macro I posted Aug 5, 2018 might be useful:
http://excelribbon.tips.net/T013558_Pasting_Numeric_Values_in_Other_Programs.html


2018-08-28 03:35:14

MIkeB NZ

Tried disabling live preview but it didn't work. Closed a non-Microsoft programme IBM SPSS (which is statistics software) to and from which I had copied spreadsheet data. The excel error message has stopped for now.


2018-03-17 05:39:31

KHtipn

This has been drove me crazy finding in the past the error only happened when I had the very useful Spartan Clipboard Manager active. http://spartan.m8software.com/

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


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.