“There Is a Problem with Clipboard” in Excel [SOLVED]

This tutorial deals with the clipboard problems posed by Excel. These problems occur when you try to copy and paste between different office programs.

What does this problem look like?

 The Clipboard problem

This message appears when a background program is using the clipboard.

Every Microsoft Office program has a built-in clipboard that will help you copy and paste information across Office programs. You can also copy information from an office program (Excel, Word, PowerPoint, etc.) to another program.

However, the clipboard error reads as follows:

There’s a problem with the clipboard, but you can still paste your content within this workbook.”

Occurs when users try to copy and paste something while another external program is using the clipboard in the background.

With Excel posing this error, you’d be able to copy (copy the formatting included) and paste stuff within your active workbook but copying/pasting across other programs would be restricted for a while.

Not to worry – that’s a very nominal problem, and there are various methods you can use to fix it.

In this tutorial, we will discuss all the possible solutions to fix this problem. So let’s dive right in.

How to Fix Problems With the Clipboard in Excel

There can be several ways to solve the clipboard problem in Excel. We have listed down all the methods that will help you resolve the Excel clipboard problems.

You can try these methods in a sequential order to see which one helps.

Clear Excel Clipboard Memory

Often when you’re copying and pasting heaps of information, the clipboard might be overburdened by the copied information.

When tons of content are copied into the clipboard, you can expect Excel to show the clipboard error message. If that’s the case, clearing up the clipboard will help the situation.

Follow the steps below to clear up the clipboard memory of Excel.

  1. Go to the Home Tab > Clipboard Group > Arrow at the right bottom.
Clipboard launching button

Clicking on this button will launch the Clipboard pane to the left side of your spreadsheet as follows:

Clipboard launching button

It would have the list of all the items that you previously copied.

  1. Click on the Clear All button at the top.
Clear All

Everything from the clipboard will now be deleted, and the “Clipboard empty” message will be displayed as follows.

Clipboard is empty

You can now re-copy and paste (whatever you wanted to copy/paste) to see if the clipboard now works rightly. How cool is that?

Disable the Problematic Plug-ins

Some of the times, we have some Excel Add-ins working in the background that disable certain functions of Excel. Even otherwise, such additional plug-ins often affect the performance of Excel.

If this is the cause of your Excel clipboard not working, you will have to identify the problematic add-in and put it to a halt.

Here’s how you can identify the problematic add-in in Excel and deactivate it.

  1. Go to the File Tab > Options.
Options under File Tab

This will launch the Options window as follows.

The Options window
  1. In the Options window, from the pane on the left, select Add-ins.
Add-ins options

From the Add-ins window, you can see which Add-ins are currently active in your workbook.

  1. In the Add-ins window, next to manage, click on the button Go.
The Go button

The Add-ins window will pop up on the screen that shows the add-ins available. The add-ins running in your Excel are the ones that are tick-marked.

Available add-ins

Now, to identify if the add-ins are causing the problem, you can deactivate all the Add-ins at once and see if the Clipboard works.

Once established that the clipboard is running into problems due to one or more add-ins, you can deactivate the Add-ins one after another to identify the particular add-in causing the problem.

  1. Disable (uncheck) all the Add-ins and press the Go button to run Excel without Add-ins.
Disable the Add-ins
  1. Now close this workbook and restart Excel.

That should fix the error and you can now copy items to your clipboard easily.

Launch Excel in Safe Mode

If you find it arduous to deactivate add-ins individually or altogether, you can try this method instead.

Launch Excel in safe mode and disable all the add-ins. Most of the time, it’s the add-ins that restrict users from copying/pasting. Disabling such add-ins can therefore fix the issue.

Here’s how you can launch Excel in safe mode to disable all the add-ins:

  1. Press the Window button + R key.

This launches the Run command as follows:

The run command
  1. Within the Run command, type in the following command.

excel /safe

Excel safe command
  1. Click on “Okay”.
  2. Launch Microsoft Excel.
  3. Go to the File Tab > Options.
Options under File Tab

This will launch the Options window as follows.

The Options window
  1. In the Options window, from the pane on the left, select Add-ins.
Add-ins options
  1. In the Add-ins window, next to manage, select “COM Add-ins.”
  2. Click on the button Go.
COM Add-ins

This time the COM Add-ins window will launch, showing all the available COM Add-ins.

COM Add-ins
  1. Uncheck them all and click Okay to save your changes.
  2. Restart Excel to make sure the changes you’ve made are saved.

If Add-ins were the root cause of your Clipboard problems, you’ll likely not see them now. The problem has been fixed and you can now easily use your clipboard.

Repair / Reinstall Microsoft Excel

After you’ve tried all the methods above, and if none of them has worked for you so far – don’t worry; here’s another method to help you get through this problem.

If, after trying everything above, you are still facing the “There’s a problem with the clipboard, but you can still paste your content within this workbook” error, your MS Office is probably broken.

This is again when some third-party Add-ins are interrupting the functionality of Excel. To help this problem, you may consider repairing it.

Here’s how you can repair MS Excel on your PC to solve the Clipboard problem.

  1. Go to the Start button > Settings > Apps.
Select apps from Windows
  1. Scroll down the list of Apps to find Microsoft Office Suite.
Microsoft Office Suite
  1. Click on the Modify button.

This will launch the following dialog box on your screen.

Repair dialog box
  1. Select Quick Repair (or Online Repair) and press the Repair button.

Online Repair will usually take longer than Quick Repair. However, it is more effective in solving the subject problem.

Repairing your MS Excel (or sometimes even updating it) is likely to solve the aforesaid problem.

However, if even after trying all the methods above, particularly repairing MS Office, the Clipboard problem is not fixed, you might need a different solution.

In this case, it might be advisable to uninstall and reinstall MS Excel. Doing so will set back all the settings to default, and the clipboard problem will likely be solved.

Uninstalling and reinstalling MS Office will be a time-consuming job. Hence, do not try doing this unless you've tried all the above methods.

To uninstall MS Office, follow the steps below:

  1. Go to the Start button > Settings > Apps.
  2. Scroll down the list of Apps to find Microsoft Office Suite.
Microsoft Office Suite
  1. Click on the Uninstall button.
  2. Agree to any prompts that come next to initiate the uninstallation process.
  3. Once uninstalled, reinstall it again to have all the default settings restored.

Copying and pasting within Excel and across MS Office apps should now be seamless.


For a regular Excel user, copying and pasting data across the same workbook and multiple Office programs is one of the most common jobs. You’d have to do those tens of times a day.

With that being said, Excel clipboard posing errors can be a big problem. It will hamper your jobs, including the copying of filenames, wastes a lot of time, and might also result in loss of data.

Until now, we have discussed a variety of methods that you can use to solve the Clipboard problem in Excel.

Try applying them in sequential order, and you will have your copying / pasting issues fixed soon.

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