Excel 2013 often complains that "We couldn't free up space on the clipboard. Another program might be using it right now" when I'm trying to copy cells.

Some say it might be caused by Zone Alarm or Bing Desktop. I have none of them. I'm running Windows 7, so I don't have clipbrd.exe. How can I know which is the other program Excel is complaining about?

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    This also happens with Excel 2010 a lot.
    – s_a
    Mar 26 '14 at 16:36
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    Try one of these programs, if this still happens :) thewindowsclub.com/windows-clipboard-manager-viewer Jun 20 '14 at 18:25
  • Did those programs work? (I like following up on comments :) Jul 3 '14 at 17:03
  • @ṧнʊß I haven't used Microsoft Excel for a while and the complain does not appear very frequently. I use Ditto but it removes the formatting, which might be annoying sometime. I cannot remember whether Ditto did copy the text even when Excel was complaining. Next time I have to use Excel heavily I'll keep an eye on it and let you know! Jul 27 '14 at 22:14

I too was seeing this very frustrating error. Since making the below change though it appears that the problem is resolved.

Note that I am not running any of the programs (Bing Desktop etc.) that are commonly attributed to this issue, even by Microsoft themselves.

It seems this might be caused by the Office Clipboard, the need for which I have never been quite sure of since it appeared in Office many years ago. Turning off the notification or recognition for Office Clipboard seems to do the trick.

Open up the clipboard options by clicking the expansion arrow on the ribbon in the home section (this is Excel, but other Office apps should be identical or very similar).

Clipboard ribbon expansion

Open the Options dialog at the bottom left of the pane that opens up. Select 'Collect Without Showing Office Clipboard' and close the pane.

Clipboard options

Hopefully the issue is now resolved and you can copy and paste without errors or the cell focus being lost.

Edit: It appears, anecdotally at least, that this may be related to running the 32-bit version of Office on a 64-bit OS. That's certainly what I'm doing and many others seems to be in the same situation. Be interesting to see if this holds true.

  • This didn't work for me (Windows 7, Excel 2013). I don't have Bing Desktop. Apr 12 '15 at 5:31
  • This seems to have solved the issue in Excel 2013 under Windows 10 10240 x64. This also should add the functionality described here: support.office.com/en-us/article/…
    – timelmer
    Mar 18 '16 at 23:32

Hope this helps someone else. I have a user a HP Z820 workstation with windows 7 Professional sp1, 32GB RAM, 1TB drive with ~712GB free space, Office 2013 sp1. Yes, it’s a workstation but this user runs a lot of programs at once including large excel spreadsheets with pivot tables. They recently started having this error when trying to drag data in an excel cell to another cell. They figured out that if Outlook is not running then the error does not come up. But that is not workable as there is a need for the user to have outlook, word, and excel to be opened at the same time. I figured some other app was interfering with the clipboard since this error was not happening from day one when I installed office. I started to close programs one at a time and test after each. The last program I closed that allowed outlook to be open and not get the error message in excel was skitch. The user had installed skitch to allow them to capture screens and bring it into Evernote from other applications. And apparently the combination of Outlook and Skitch causes Excel to complain when you try to drag cell content to another cell. I could reproduce this every time. So if you have office 2013 sp1 and you have both outlook and excel running with skitch running in the background and you get the error when dragging cells in excel, simply go to the system tray area and kill skitch.


This also happens if any other program is monitoring the clipboard. For example, I had free download manager and it was monitoring the clipboard. When I switched this option off, the problem went away in Excel 2013.

And I do not have bing desktop nor do I have zone alarm.


Check if uninstalling Bing Desktop helps. Microsoft has identified that product as (one possible) cause of this error. See here: http://blogs.technet.com/b/the_microsoft_excel_support_team_blog/archive/2013/01/25/quot-we-couldn-t-free-up-space-on-the-clipboard-another-program-might-be-using-it-right-now-quot.aspx


I had light downloader running which was monitoring the clipboard. I disabled monitoring of the clipboard and wahlaah, no more error.


This is an old question but I thought I'd post my experiences with it so it may help others.

I am also having this error but I finally figured it out. I went through the task manager and started to kill all process and testing drag/drop. Once I killed the Dropbox process, the error went away. So it seems if you have Dropbox running, it messes with the clipboard.

This helped me so maybe it will help someone else. I'm not sure if there's a newer version of the Dropbox windows 8 app that doesnt cause this error. but for now I'm just not going to run Dropbox.

I ended up having to uninstall it for the issue to go away.

EDIT: Seems the issue is back. This is getting real frustrating....

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