How to Fix It When Copy and Paste Isn't Working in Windows 10/11

From closing apps to updating device drivers, here are the most common solutions

The following suggestions will help you resolve when copy and paste isn't working properly.

The tips below will work primarily for Window 10 and Windows 11, but may also resolve copy and paste issues on older versions of Windows as well.

Why Isn't My Copy and Paste Working?

Issues with copy and paste not working may appear in one of the following ways.

  • Other applications or processes that are running may use the clipboard and interfere with your copy and paste attempt.
  • Malware or viruses can corrupt or disable the clipboard.
  • A large clipboard history that hasn't been cleared recently can cause problems.
  • A faulty keyboard or mouse may not allow you to copy or paste correctly.
  • Corrupt system files or drivers can interfere with the clipboard.

These issues can occur at any time and may seem somewhat unpredictable.

How to Fix It When Copy and Paste Isn't Working in Windows 10/11

The following fixes will get copy and paste working again on your Windows PC.

  1. Uninstall any third-party applications that take over copy and paste functions. One of the most common causes of copy and paste issues on Windows is when an installed application is interfering with the clipboard. Uninstall those applications to see if that fixes the issue. If you struggle to remove them, try using uninstaller programs to force delete them.

  2. Scan for viruses or malware. Run a manual scan with your antivirus app to see if you have a virus or malware. If you don't use antivirus software, try running an online antivirus scan. If you're struggling to get that software removed, try running a different antivirus app. If you discover that you have malware, try using a malware removal tool.

  3. Close all other applications and processes. Close all other apps that you have open. Also, use Task Manager to review all running processes. If you see processes for software that shouldn't be running, you may need to force close those apps.

  4. Test copy and paste in safe mode. Safe mode ensures no other non-critical or system software is running in the background. Testing copy and paste in this environment will ensure it isn't some application, malware, or virus interfering with your ability to copy and paste.

  5. Clear the clipboard. If you are seeing any clipboard errors, clearing the clipboard history will often resolve those and get copy and paste working again.

  6. Use the Keyboard troubleshooter tool. You can access this is the Windows Settings app, by selecting System, Troubleshoot, and then Other Troubleshooters. Scroll down to Keyboard and then Run the troubleshooter. You'll also want to make sure your keyboard isn't locked. If your keyboard still isn't working then walk through troubleshooting steps to fix your keyboard.

  7. Restart the Windows Explorer process. This is a common fix for issues like a frozen taskbar or Windows Search not working. To do this, just open Task Manager, find the Windows Explorer process, and restart it.

  8. Repair corrupt Windows system files. To do this you'll need to scan your system files using tools like the System File Checker. While you're at it, you may want to take the time to check for and fix a corrupt Windows registry. Either corrupt system files or a corrupt registry can impact your ability to copy and paste.

  9. Restore Windows health. RestoreHealth is a parameter of the built-in Windows DISM tool, which will scan for and repair common issues with your Windows image. To run this command, open the Command Prompt as Administrator and type the command: DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth. Once the command is finished, test if you can now copy and paste again.

  10. Update all of your device drivers. Since the keyboard or mouse is another device, it would make sense an outdated device driver may cause issues. You can find and download the driver from the manufacturer's website, or use driver updater tools. If you recently updated the driver before the problem started, try rolling the driver back a version.

  11. Run the latest Windows Updates. An out-of-date Windows system can lead to unexpected problems like copy and paste not working. Installing the latest Windows updates will often fix these issues.

  12. Run Windows System Restore. The Windows System Restore tool will let you revert your Windows image back to a restore point before the copy and paste problem started happening. This should be a last resort, but it's also the most likely fix to work.

  • What is the shortcut to copy and paste on a Windows computer?

    The keyboard shortcuts in most programs are Ctrl + C to copy and Ctrl + V to paste. You can also right-click an item and choose Copy and Paste from the options menu.

  • How do I cut and paste in Windows?

    The keyboard shortcut for the cut command in most Windows programs Ctrl + X. Alternatively, go to Edit > Cut, or right-click and select Cut from the menu. To paste, use Ctrl + V.

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