Use the Excel Clipboard to Copy Multiple Items Multiple Times

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Cut, Copy and Paste Data in Excel with the the Office Clipboard

How to Store, Copy and Delete Entries in the Office Clipboard in Excel
How to Store, Copy and Delete Entries in the Office Clipboard. &copy: Ted French

System Clipboard vs. Office Clipboard

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.

In more technical terms, the clipboard is a temporary storage area or data buffer in a computer's RAM memory that stores data for later reuse.

The clipboard can be used within Excel to:

  • store frequently used data for reuse within the same worksheet or workbook;
  • move or copy data to a different workbook or to a completely different program.​​

The types of data that the clipboard can hold include:

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.

If more than 24 items are entered into the Office Clipboard, the first entries are removed from the clipboard viewer.

Activating the Office Clipboard

The Office Clipboard can be activated by

  1. Clicking on the Clipboard dialog box launcher - shown in the image above - 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 (see below).

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.

Adding Data to the Clipboard

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.

Clearing the Clipboard

1) The most obvious 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.

2) 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 once all Office programs are closed.

3) Since the Clipboard is only a temporary storage area, turning off the operating system - either by shutting down or restarting the computer - will empty both the system and Office Clipboard of stored data.

Office Clipboard Options

There are several options available for using the Office Clipboard. These can be set using the Options button located at the bottom of the Office Clipboard task pane.

  • Show Office Clipboard Automatically: Automatically displays the Office Clipboard when copying items.
  • Show Office Clipboard When CTRL+C Pressed Twice: Automatically displays the Office Clipboard when you press CTRL+C twice.
  • Collect Without Showing Office Clipboard: Activates, and copies items to the Office Clipboard, but without opening the Office Clipboard task pane.
  • Show Office Clipboard Icon on Taskbar: Displays the Office Clipboard icon in the status area or tray of the taskbar when the Office Clipboard is active. This option is turned on by default.
  • Show Status Near Taskbar When Copying: Displays the collected item message when copying items to the Office Clipboard. This option is turned on by default.

Copying a Data Series 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.

Add Data to a Worksheet From the Clipboard

  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.