Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Can't Empty the Clipboard.

Can't Empty the Clipboard

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 8, 2015)


Jerry is trying to cut information from one cell and paste it into another cell. He can cut it just fine, but when he tries to paste it he gets an error message, "Cannot Empty the Clipboard." Jerry wonders what causes this error.

This has been a problem in Excel for some time. (Actually, the problem seems to crop up in several different Office applications, not just Excel.) The solutions for the problem depend upon what is causing the problem and which version of Excel you are using. As an example, here are two different articles at the Microsoft Knowledge Base that address the issue:

Note that the articles are focused on entirely different versions of Excel and entirely different causes. Unfortunately, Microsoft hasn't seen fit to create a "here's how to fix it" article that addresses the wider range of potential causes. There are, however, resources available on the wider Internet that address the issue. Here's a good one:

You can find lots of other such resources by searching for the phrase "cannot empty the keyboard" (make sure you include the quote marks).

The underlying idea for all these potential causes and solutions is that there is some program (whether it be Terminal Services, GetRight, Flashget, RealVNC, or Quickeys) that is interfering with how Excel wants to use the Clipboard. The idea is to figure out which program it is an either stop using the program or implement some sort of workaround that is specific to that program.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (9809) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Can't Empty the Clipboard.

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 4 + 4?

2015-10-19 21:49:23


I had this issue, and RealVNC (Version 5.0.1) was the cause. Disabling the clipboard sharing option within RealVNC still did not stop the "Cannot empty the Clipboard" problem.

I have to stop the RealVNC server whenever I need to use Office 2003 (Word, Excel, ETC) to prevent this error happening.

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