Whenever you copy a cell or a range of cells in Excel (my version is 2010 on Windows 7), and then do something else like insert new sheet row or simply edit another cell, Excel removes the clipboard data. For me this seems to me so utterly stupid and it's very frustrating (probably it has some logic behind it like preserving references or something like that, but I don't think it would be rocket science to make it work like any other program that has Copy-Paste available).

The only workaround is to use the Office clipboard, but I don't want to (uses space on the screen and it's a lot less comfortable than CTRL+V) and I don't think I should be forced to use it.

Here's a reference to some posts also complaining about this problem:

How to make Excel retain the contents of its clipboard

Excel 2010 removes data from clipboard, how can I stop it?

Is there any way I can force Excel to keep my data into the clipboard until I decide I don't need it no more instead of it, without using the annoying (to me) Office clipboard? Maybe using the Windows clipboard.

Or at least you could explain to me why this is happening (I know this is normal behavior, but why?)

  • see superuser.com/a/222436/355286
    – f.thorpe
    Jan 13, 2017 at 19:34
  • 1
    Another workaround is if you copy from somewhere else, ( f.e. notepad ) you can repeat it in Excel. So unless you are copying a 'function' , you should be able to do it for text, which the default function does not do. As stated in the below answer, why it does for references. But when no references are relevant there is no need.
    – woony
    Sep 30, 2020 at 7:53

3 Answers 3


The answer, unfortunately, is no, you can't stop this from happening.

As described by Joel Spolsky, developer and program manager for excel:

The official reason is that Excel doesn't really have cut and paste, it has move and copy. That's necessary because Excel automatically does reference fix up. For example, if cell A2 is defined as =A1, and you move cell A1 to A3, cell A2 will be updated to =A3.

If Excel actually cut things to the clipboard you would somehow need to have a reference pointing >into< the clipboard which is bizarre and for which there is no reasonable syntax. In other words, Excel doesn't want to leave you with dangling references during a move operation and isn't confident that it would be able to fix them up correctly when you completed the move by selecting "Paste."

Joel Spolsky 3/9/2004


What this means is that because of the difficulty inherent in the way excel maintains references, at the time of development there was no good way to store these references outside of excel and have them remain dynamic to be re-inserted. Once you change focus excel's ability to retain your original references is lost.

Unfortunately, MS does not consider this a bug.

  • 1
    The very fact that before this change, they were not overwriting the paste functionality before this change means they can do this, they just don't.
    – ScrappyDev
    Jun 25, 2018 at 14:15
  • 5
    If Excel doesn't have a Cut/Copy and Paste functionality, than it shouldn't run a different functionality under that name. It should use a different name to reflect that it's executing a different functionality.
    – tparker
    Sep 16, 2020 at 16:26
  • Why doesn't excel just auto-execute the last copy selection when possible? Basically have it keep copying the same cells that were copied before each time. If it can't then it will be blank like today, but in the vast majority of cases this could help.
    – VoidStar
    Oct 29, 2020 at 8:15
  • Still can't understand why it keeps destroying any plain text content you have externally copied after any action rather than "paste". (Office 365 nowadays)
    – David Gras
    Nov 21, 2022 at 11:45

You can try some clipboard manager applications such as Ditto, here is the link Ditto


You can not stop this, but there is a workaround

In Windows 10 (and I assume in Windows 11 too) you can press Win + V instead of Ctrl + V. This brings up a popup with the 25 most recent items on the clipboard. You can navigate scrolling or up and down arrows, and you can pick an item to insert with Enter, or a mouse click.

It can be inconvenient to use something else in Excel, but might be simpler than instaling a clipboard manager application.

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