Message about a Problem with the Clipboard

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 17, 2018)

7

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. ...

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What is four minus 2?

2019-07-30 14:34:11

jason tindal

that worked!!!! thank you


2019-05-29 13:52:14

Jim

Seems like it's been around forever...I expect, and would like to believe that my Office 365 subscription ensures that I have the most current version of Office or something close to it...this fix does seem to work, albeit, at least for a while, but typically requires occasional reapplication. I'm mildly encouraged to know that MS is aware of it and working on it, but it doesn't likely have a high priority since it's only useful purpose seems to be to annoy the user.


2019-05-28 15:50:51

Data Wrangler

I get this error when copying data from one worksheet to another in the same spreadsheet file. When it happens, I no longer see borders around the active cell I click on.


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!


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