HomeWINDOWSWe couldn't free up space on the clipboard Excel error

We couldn’t free up space on the clipboard Excel error


Some users are not able to copy and paste data in Microsoft Excel. Whenever they try to do so, Excel shows them an error message that says “We couldn’t free up space on the clipboard.” This error message affects the productivity of the users as they cannot copy and paste data in Excel. If you see this error message in Excel, use the solutions provided in this article to resolve the issue.

We couldn't free up space on the clipboard

The complete error message is:

We couldn’t free up space on the clipboard. Another program might be using it right now.

Why is my clipboard used by another application?

Another application may use your clipboard when you use the cut, copy, or paste command. You may experience such type of issue most commonly in Excel or other Office applications. The cause of the problem may be an Excel add-in or a third-party app or Service running in the background in Windows 11/10.

We couldn’t free up space on the clipboard

Use the following solutions to fix the “We couldn’t free up space on the clipboard” error in Microsoft Excel. Before you begin, it will be better to restart your computer and check again. Sometimes, issues on a Windows computer are fixed simply by restarting the device. If this does not help, proceed ahead and use the solutions provided below:

  1. Close all other running programs
  2. Clear your clipboard history
  3. Update Office
  4. Repair your system files
  5. Launch Excel in Safe Mode
  6. Disable Add-ons in Internet Options
  7. Troubleshoot in a Clean Boot state
  8. Disable Protected Mode
  9. Repair Office

Let’s see all these fixes in detail.

1] Close all other running programs

If you read the error message carefully, it is indicated that the other running programs may be using the clipboard space. Hence, close all the running programs and see if this fixes the problem.

2] Clear your clipboard history

When you give the copy command to a Windows computer, the selected file, image, text, etc., is copied to the Clipboard. Windows uses this clipboard to paste the copied data. Clearing the clipboard history erases all the data copied to the clipboard. Perform this action and see if it fixes the error message in Excel.

In Windows 11, you can open the clipboard by pressing the Win + V keys. After opening the clipboard, click on the Clear all button to empty the clipboard. In addition to this, we also suggest you clear the clipboard history in Excel. To do so, go through the following instructions:

Clear clipboard history in Excel

  1. Open Excel.
  2. Open an existing file or create a new one.
  3. Under th Home tab, click on the icon on the bottom right side of the Clipboard section.
  4. Click Clear All.

3] Update Office

Outdated applications can cause errors and issues. Therefore, we suggest you check for Office Updates manually and install the same if available. If it is a bug that is causing the problem, the update will fix it.

4] Repair your system files

Corrupted system files can cause different issues on a Windows computer. this might be the case with you. Hence, we suggest you repair your system files and see if it helps. You can use Windows 11/10 built-in command line tools for this purpose.

Run sfc scannow

System File Checker is a great tool that helps users fix the problems occurring due to corrupted system image files. Run an SFC scan to repair the corrupted system files. Do not interrupt the process. After the scan gets completed, launch Excel and see if the issue persists.

Sometimes SFC does not fix the corrupted system files. In this case, you can take advantage of the DISM tool. If the SFC scan did not work, the DISM scan will help.

5] Launch Excel in Safe Mode

In some cases, problems occur in Office applications due to installed add-ins. You can confirm this by opening Excel in Safe Mode. If the issue does not appear in Safe Mode, the problem is associated with an add-in installed in Excel. Now, your next step should be to identify that problematic add-in. To do so, exit Excel in Safe Mode and relaunch it in normal mode.

  1. Open Excel.
  2. Create a new file or open an existing file in Excel.
  3. Go to “File > Options.”
  4. Select Add-Ins from the left side.
  5. Now, select COM Add-ins in the Manage drop-down.
  6. Click Go.
  7. Uncheck the checkbox to disable an Add-in and click OK.
  8. Now, check if the issue persists.

Repeat the above steps till you find out the problematic add-in.

6] Disable Add-ons in Internet Options

This fix has helped a lot of users. Hence, it should also work for you. If the issue still persists, we suggest you disable add-ons in Internet Options. The steps for the same are explained below:

Manage add-ons in Internet Options

  1. Click on Windows Search.
  2. Type internet options.
  3. Select Internet Options from the search results.
  4. Go to the Programs tab and click on the Manage add-ons button.
  5. Disable the add-ons you may see for Office Excel one by one and then check the status of the error in Excel.

The above steps will help you find out the problematic add-on.

7] Troubleshoot in a Clean Boot state

If the problem still persists, you should check if any third-party startup app or Service is causing the problem or not. The error message says that the clipboard might have been used by another application. But it may be a third-party Service in place of the app. The Clean Boot state in Windows 11/10 computer will help you identify both problematic startup apps and Services.

Start your computer in the Clean Boot state. Now, launch Excel and see if the error occurs while copying and pasting the data in Excel. If not, you have to identify the problematic startup app or Service. Let’s start with identifying the problematic Startup app. Enable all the startup apps and restart your computer. After restarting your computer, launch Excel and see if the error persists. If yes, any one of the startup apps is the culprit. To identify it, follow the steps written below:

  1. Open Task Manager and go to the Startup apps tab.
  2. Disable any one startup app and restart your computer.
  3. Open Excel and see if the issue persists.

Repeat the above steps until you find the culprit. The steps to identify the problematic third-party Service are the same, but here you have to use the MSConfig app in place of the Task Manager.

Some users reported that the issue occurred due to the Internet Download Manager software.

8] Disable Protected Mode

Sometimes, users report that the Protected Mode in Office applications cause problems. If the Protected Mode is enabled in Excel disable it and see if it helps. The following steps will guide you on this.

Disable Protected View in Excel

  1. Open Excel.
  2. Create a blank file or open the existing one.
  3. Go to “File > Options > Trust Center.”
  4. Click Trust Center Settings.
  5. Select Protected View from the left side.
  6. Deselect all the options available on the right side.

9] Repair Office

If none of the above solutions worked, the problem might be occurring due to the corrupted Office files. Repairing Microsoft Office has proven helpful in fixing many Office issues. Hence, we suggest you run an Online Repair for your Microsoft Office applications. Online Repair takes more time than Quick Repair but it is more effective than Quick Repair.

How do I change my clipboard settings?

You can view or change your clipboard settings on Windows 11. To do so, open Windows 11 Settings and go to “System > Clipboard.” Do note that, not many options are available in the clipboard settings on Windows 11. You can turn your clipboard on or off, share your clipboard data with other devices, and clear your clipboard data.

I hope this helps.

Read next: How to fix Excel not responding without losing data.

We couldn't free up space on the clipboard

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