Use the Excel Clipboard to Copy Multiple Items Multiple Times

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The system clipboard is a part of a computer's operating system, such as Microsoft Windows or the Mac O/S, where a user can temporarily store data. While the Office Clipboard in Excel, and the other programs in Microsoft Office, expands the capabilities of the regular system clipboard.

While the Windows Clipboard holds only the last item copied, the Office Clipboard can hold up to 24 different entries and offers greater flexibility in the order and number of clipboard entries that can be pasted into a location at one time.

Note: The Office Clipboard feature is only available on Windows PCs; Mac users will not have access to this functionality.

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Windows Clipboard vs. Office Clipboard

Screenshot of Excel showing the Office clipboard

The Office Clipboard can be activated in one of two manners within Microsoft Excel; they include:

  1.  Clicking on the Clipboard dialog box launcher, which will open the Office Clipboard task pane, located on the Home tab of the ribbon in Excel.
  2. Pressing the Ctrl + C + C keys on the keyboard. Pressing the letter C once sends data to the system Clipboard, pressing it twice turns on the Office Clipboard — this option may or may not open the Office Clipboard task pane, depending on other selected options.

Data Management with Clipboards

Data is added to either Clipboard using the copy or cut (move) commands and transferred or copied into a new location with the paste option. In the case of the system Clipboard, each new copy or cut operation flushes existing data from the clipboard and replaces it with the new data. 

The Office Clipboard, on the other hand, retains previous entries along with the new and permits them to be pasted into new locations in any order you choose or for all entries in the clipboard to be pasted in at one time.

Seeing Inside the Office Clipboard

The items currently located in the Office Clipboard and the order in which they were copied can be seen using the Office Clipboard task pane. The task pane can also be used to select which items and in which order items in the task pane can be pasted into new locations.

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Copying and Adding Data From the Clipboard

Screenshot of Excel showing data copied to the clipboard

If you have a series of data, such as a list of names that you will be entering repeatedly in the same order into a worksheet, using the clipboard can simplify entering the list.

  1. Highlight the entire list in the worksheet.
  2. Press the Ctrl + C + C keys on the keyboard — the list will be set as one entry in the Office Clipboard.

Once you are ready to paste information from the Office clipboard into your spreadsheet, simply follow these steps:

  1. Click on the cell in the worksheet where you want the data to be located.
  2. Click on the desired entry in the clipboard viewer to add it to the active cell.
  3. In the case of a data series or list, when pasted into the worksheet, it will retain the spacing and order of the original list.
  4. If you wish to add all entries to the worksheet, click the Paste All button at the top of the ​clipboard viewer. Excel will paste each entry into a separate cell in a column starting with the active cell.
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Clearing the Clipboard

Screenshot of Excel showing Clear All option

The most straightforward way to clear the Office clipboard is by clicking on the Clear All button located on the Office Clipboard task pane. When the Office Clipboard is cleared, the system Clipboard is cleared as well.

Alternately, Exiting all Microsoft Office programs has the effect of shutting down the Office Clipboard but leaves the system Clipboard active. However, since the system Clipboard holds only one entry at a time, only the last item copied into the Office Clipboard is retained.