How to Fix When Copy and Paste Doesn't Work

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Matthew Wilhelm Kapell
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One of the most frequently used functions on computers is copying and pasting. It makes our work easier and allows us to complete tasks faster. But it can be frustrating when this feature stops working, and several factors can cause this.

If you are having trouble getting your copy and paste function to work properly, keep reading this article to find the possible solutions to your problem.

How does copy-paste work?

By copying a file/text, you save it to a virtual clipboard. Pasting it extracts it from the clipboard to a specific destination. Various services support this process and allow you to easily move files/texts from source to desired destination without having to physically drag them or store them somewhere permanently.



Due to its simplicity and advantages, this generalized action is popular on all operating systems and most applications. Let's see what you can do when this feature is not working properly.

Copy and paste not working in Windows 10

Check if Windows is updated

There are several reasons why copy and paste may not work in Windows 10. If your version of Windows is not up to date, it may cause your copy and paste to fail. Here's how to make sure it's up to date:

  1. Open the Start menu.
  2. Start typing “Settings” and open it.
  3. Tap "Update & Security".
  4. Tap "Check for updates".

If Windows has not been updated to the latest version, it will start downloading updates now. When you restart your computer, all updates will be installed. If that was the cause of your copy-paste problem, it should be fixed now.



Keyboard troubleshooting

Suppose you try to use keyboard shortcuts to copy and paste, but they don't seem to work. In this case, you can try troubleshooting your keyboard to solve your problem:

  1. Open the Start menu.
  2. Start typing “Settings” and open it.
  3. Tap "Update & Security".
  4. Tap "Troubleshoot".
  5. Tap on “Additional troubleshooters”.
  6. Tap "Keyboard".
  7. Press "Run the troubleshooter".

If your computer detects any potential problems, it will recommend how to fix them, thus solving your copy-and-paste problem.

Advice: You need to make sure that the copy-paste shortcuts on your keyboard are set correctly.

Scan for viruses

If you want to establish if a virus is preventing your copy-and-paste function from working, be sure to follow these steps:

  1. Open the Start menu.
  2. Start typing “Windows Security” and open it.
  3. Tap "Virus & threat protection".
  4. Tap "Scan Options".
  5. Tap "Full Scan".

You can also opt for "Quick Scan", although it is recommended to do "Full Scan". This option will scan all files, not just those where viruses are commonly found.

Advice: A full scan can take up to an hour, so be sure to do it when you don't have to use your computer right away.


Close Open apps

If you have too many apps open at once, they can overlap and prevent your copy-and-paste function from working. You can choose which applications to close using Task Manager:


  1. Right-click on the Start menu.
  2. Tap "Task Manager".
  3. Choose the program you want to close and select it.
  4. Right-click on the program and press "End Task".

If too many open apps or programs are preventing your copy and paste function from working, you should be able to fix it by following these steps.

Disable anti-virus program

While it is important to use anti-virus software to protect your device, such software can sometimes cause copy and paste to malfunction. To determine if this is the cause of your problem, you can try disabling certain features of your antivirus software or even disabling it completely. You can do this for a short time until you determine if this is the root of your problem.

Suppose you establish that this prevents your copy-paste function from working. In this case, the best option is to uninstall it and switch to another antivirus software. There are various antivirus tools available in the market, and you will easily find the one that suits you the best and causes you the least problems.

Run Check Disk Utility

One of the possible solutions for copy and paste not working in Windows 10 is to run the Check Disk utility. Check disk is a tool that can fix system errors, and here's how you can run it:


  1. Open the Start menu.
  2. Start typing “This PC” and open it.
  3. Right click on your hard drive.
  4. Press "Properties".
  5. Choose the "Tools" tab.
  6. Click the "Check" button under "Error Checking".

If there are any errors, they will be fixed once you restart your PC. If this was preventing your copy-pasting, it should be fixed now.


Copy and paste not working on Mac

If you are a Mac user and your copy and paste is not working, you have come to the right place. There are several things you can do to make your copy and paste work properly.

Check if your keyboard is the problem

If you're not sure if your keyboard is causing the problem, you can try using "Edit" in your menu bar. Here you can choose between "Copy" and "Paste".

You can also use your mouse to select text, copy and paste it. If it works, that means there is a problem with your keyboard, so make sure it's powered on/properly connected and you're using the correct shortcuts.

Clipboard restart

  1. Quit applications in which copy and paste does not work.
  2. Press "Go" in the menu bar.
  3. Tap "Utilities".
  4. Tap "Activity Monitor".
  5. Type "pboard" in the search box in the upper right corner.
  6. Double click on “pboard”.
  7. Press "Exit".
  8. Tap "Force Quit".
  9. Quit Activity Monitor.
  10. Open apps where copy-paste was not working. If that was the problem, it should work now.

Kill the WindowServer process

If force closing pboard didn't fix the problem and your copy and paste still doesn't work, you can try killing the WindowServer process.

Advice: Before doing this, make sure you have saved all your tasks, because once this is done, your Mac will ask you to sign in again. Even though Mac will reopen all tasks, you may lose all unsaved work.

  1. Press "Go" in the menu bar.
  2. Tap "Utilities".
  3. Tap "Activity Monitor".
  4. Type "windowserver" in the search field at the top right.
  5. Double-click on “windowserver”.
  6. Press "Exit".
  7. Tap "Force Quit".

Restarting your Mac device

If the copy and paste function still does not work, try restarting your device.

  1. Tap the Apple logo.
  2. Press "Restart".

Any problem that may have occurred should be corrected by restarting your computer.

Copy-paste does not work in Ubuntu

If you're using Ubuntu and your copy and paste isn't working, there are a few things you can try to get it to work.

Check your keyboard

If you can't use keyboard shortcuts to copy and paste it, try selecting the file/text with your mouse, then select "Copy" and "Paste" from the menu. If it works, that means your keyboard is the problem. Make sure your keyboard is on/properly connected and you are using the correct shortcuts.

Check authorization

If you have multiple accounts in Ubuntu and selected the wrong one, you will not have permission to use the copy-paste function. In Ubuntu, only root users have this option. If so, you can log out and select the correct account, where you will have this option available.

Close Open apps

If you open too many apps, they may overlap, disabling the copy-and-paste feature. If you want to confirm that this is indeed the problem, try closing several applications and then using copy and paste shortcuts.

Restarting your device

If this is the first time that your copy and paste function is not working, you can try restarting your device. It might just be a temporary problem, and by restarting the device, you might be able to fix it.

Copy-paste does not work in specific applications

It may happen that the copy and paste function does not work only when using specific applications. In this case, the first thing you can do is to close and reopen the application.

If that doesn't work, you can check if your app is up to date. If not, be sure to download the latest version, as this could be the cause of your copy-paste not working.

Using clipboard apps

There are various clipboard apps in the market that can make your copy and paste easier. These apps are beneficial for several reasons: they can save multiple texts/files that you want to copy, they keep a history that you can access at any time, they allow you to specify the formatting you want to use, etc. If you use copy and paste often, this is a great way to save time and make your job easier.

However, these third-party apps can often conflict with your built-in clipboard. So, if you have one of these applications and you try to use your built-in clipboard, your copy and paste function may not work. Make sure to close or disable the app and restart your computer, and that should fix your problem.

Enabling copy-paste is never a waste!

Now you know how to make your copy-paste option work properly. Since copying and pasting is one of the essential functions used several times a day, it is important to activate it. If you're trying to figure out why your copy and paste isn't working and possible solutions, you'll find the answers you need in this article.

Have you ever had problems copying and pasting on your computer? Tell us in the comment section below.

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