Message about a Problem with the Clipboard

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 27, 2021)


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 8 + 2?

2021-06-03 13:15:14

Dave Biggers

Is there anything further on "Message about a Problem with the Clipboard" last updated by Allen on March 17, 2018? I updated to Excel 19 and have had this problem ever since. For me, it only happens when I drag a value from one cell to another. The CTRL keyboard shortcuts work fine. Also occasionally, even the drag cells operation works without belching, but I have not been able to discern a pattern. Very frustrating ... :-(

2021-03-26 08:15:35


Thanks Mark

This solved it for me, as well.

2021-03-21 17:20:11


Hello Allen, this is March 21, 2021 and we are still experiencing this problem. However, one related issue that we haven't seen generally reported is that we also lose the Excel cursor when this happens. In our case, we don't know what cell is selected until we type something to see where the text appears. There may be other fixes, but we have to quit Excel and restart the application in order to get back the cursor. At least in our case, this adds another frustrating complication to this problem.

2021-03-03 09:43:29

Mark Stepan

This solved it for me.

2021-02-08 11:36:38

Deborah Gearhart

It is now 2021. Problem still exists. Still NO solution.

2020-09-21 11:55:58


Thanks for the pointer, Allen.

I thought of Live Clipboard immediately (Chashi's comment), but I was having this problem with Live Clipboard disabled. (Besides, it can't be the original source of the problem back in 2018.)

The problem was more than an annoyance for me, as after it happened, it would disable the ribbon until I completely exited Excel. Turning off live preview seems to have worked. (One aspect of my environment that may be a factor was that I was using a workbook stored in OneDrive with autosave enabled.)

2020-05-15 18:18:40


Found the solution...

If you have enabled the Windows's Clip Board history and enabled the Windows Clipboard to sync across devices, then by disabling them Solved the problem. But you can no longer access the past clip board values. But getting away with this damn annoying error message which has NO meaning at all is worth than having the windows Clip Board history.

1. Type Clip Board on the search/start
2. Select Clipboard setting
3. Turn off clipboard history
4. Turn off sync across devices

Problem SOLVED....
Even MS does not know the answer.
Because the So called Moderators at MS are the most stupid dumb idiots that you can ever find who has no computer literacy at all...


2020-05-14 19:53:18


Disabling my 3rd party clipboard manager 'Ditto'. Never was an issue before. Maybe linked to a recent update.

2020-05-04 12:47:45

Joe Schlobodnik

Turning off live preview is disabling a feature to solve a bug. Not the best solution.

Microsoft needs to whack the mole that coded this.

2019-10-01 18:27:24

Larry Hamelin

Egad! Do we want Live Preview checked or not?

2019-07-30 14:34:11

jason tindal

that worked!!!! thank you

2019-05-29 13:52:14


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:

2018-08-28 03:35:14


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


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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