"We couldn’t free up space on the Clipboard. Another program might be using it right now." [Updated 2/1/2013]

By Anita Oakley

Hello everyone, we want to bring an emerging issue to your attention today. We have seen several reports of the error below in Microsoft Excel:

This occurs in multiple versions of Excel when you either cut and paste cells or drag them to move the contents from one location to another.

(Updated) We have narrowed this down to a conflict with the Bing Desktop Search Bar. If you have the Bing Desktop installed and run up against this issue, you can resolve the problem by updating to Bing Desktop or later. You should receive the fix through Microsoft Update, assuming that you have automatic updates set.

However, if you are currently experiencing this problem, you can:

1. Check for updates to see if the Bing Desktop update is listed. If so, update your system.
2. Uninstall Bing Desktop through Control Panel  Programs and Features, and then install the new version from http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=35844

 For more information about the Bing Desktop, see http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=35844.

Please also see the following Knowledge Base article, http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2807672 - "Excel produces error when dragging cells to another area"

Comments (47)

  1. Anonymous says:

    Tried your solution of uninstalling Bing and reinstalling from your http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=35844 shortcut version but the problem stayed the same

  2. Ed (DareDevil57) says:

    thanks for sharing.

  3. Lee, right now the Bing Desktop is the only thing we know of causing the error. There is probably something else installed on your system that uses the clipboard and has seized control of it. The best way to narrow down the culprit is to launch the task manager (START > RUN > type TASKMGR and hit OK) and on the Processes tab look for programs running under your user account name. You can click each of these and end the process (Leave Excel.exe running) and try the paste operation again.

    1. Kevin says:

      I’m having this problem on a new workstation. Brand new machine with very little on it. Nothing else is running when I check the task manager. I’ve even tried stopping some services that I thought could be affecting it. I’ve done a repair and re-install. This is on a Win 7 pro machine. I have a critical need for this computer to work with excel on a daily basis. I already have spent 6 hours on this. Any other suggestions?

  4. Lee Pappernow says:

    I am using Office 2013 and repeatedly get the "We couldn't free up space…" error.  Bing does NOT appear to be installed (not on list in Control Panel>Programs & Features; Internet Explorer>Tools>Manage Add-ons>Search Providers shows Bing "Disabled" – if its "Disabled" there seems like it is installed so why can't I find it under Programs & Features as installed?  If its NOT installed, then the source of the "Can't free up memory…." is NOT BIng but something else.  Please advise – this makes Excel almost unusable – SO MANY addditional keystrokes each time a cut and paste is done!

  5. MS office user says:

    Skype is a classic nightmare for the clipboard and office all the time turn your skype off and see what happens

  6. N says:

    Google Chrome causes the problem for me.

  7. N says:

    had to uninstall the ask toolbar extension in chrome.. problem no longer exists

  8. Harvey Specter says:

    For me it was Teamviewer that was causing this error.

    Hope that helps someone.

  9. badger says:

    Bing is not the only cause. I get the error, but do not have Bing.

    Several other forum users have posted the same issue.

  10. P says:

    I also have this problem and don't have Bing-anything installed. I tried the task manager steps, and my problem was due to having Outlook open at the same time…

    Wasn't a fan of the new Office to begin with, and this doesn't help.

  11. adesatria says:

    in my case, the problem is SKYPE, since I didn't install bing desktop..

    uninstalled skype, and all the problem is gone..

  12. Gary says:

    Multimon taskbar caused the same problem for me. Disabled it and no issue. Thanks.

  13. Seth Cohen says:

    This is ridiculous. Why should excel even care if another program has seized the clipboard? I don't have bing, or skype, or the ask extension for chrome, or the time to investigate everything in my task list. Microsoft, this is moronic. Update the KB article and list every conflicting program, or actually provide an update to Excel to fix the issue.

  14. Lee Edwards says:

    Try shutting down Zone Alarm if you have it, that worked for me.

  15. Karl Roth says:

    No Bing.  No Skype.  Still this problem is haunting me.  There must exist a better solution than uninstalling everything but Excel.

  16. gt6 says:

    I do NOT have Bing installed anywere on my PC

  17. Dolf110 says:

    I can confirm it was zonealarm doing the nasty thing.

    The moment I shut it down no problem anymore.

    @Microsoft: What is the name of the patch? 2013 is nearly over 😉

  18. GV says:

    Thanks.  I have had this problem pretty regularly.  I recently figured out that the problem I was facing was because somehow clipboard terminated.  When I tried to run clip board viewer (see here http://www.thewindowsclub.com/windows-clipboard-manager-viewer), it gave an error in opening the clip board itself.  I found a quick resolution to this by opening Dos Prompt, and:

    c:> echo Hello | clip

    which started the clipboard (from c:windowssystem32clip.exe).  After the Ctrl+C/Ctrl+V started working again.

    Thanks for this post as well in getting me on the path.

  19. Hayes R. says:

    My issue was a bit different. I could copy and paste just fine but I could not use my mouse to drag and drop a value from one cell to another without receiving the error.

    Stopping Real VNC Server corrected this. Removed the service and have not had the issue since.

  20. rdp says:

    For me it was Google Earth.  It only happens when I also have earth running.

  21. William says:

    I have also encountered this issue and like many of you, have not had Bing installed in any capacity. The suggestion by Harvey Specter on Teamview got me thinking about my issue being potentially caused by my remote desktop application and sure enough
    when I shut down TightVNC Viewer my clipboard issue went away. Restarted TightVNC to verify and drag and drop became a mess once again. Shut it down and I good. Long story short, check for programs like these too if you have this issue and no Bing to blame!

  22. moengineer says:

    It was Google Earth for me too.

  23. Rattanakawee says:

    Read all comments so the best solution is uninstalling excel. Or microsoft just update and fix it.

  24. bernard says:

    It seems to be the screen sharing software that also causes the issue. We use VNC Viewer and after i disabled the copy in both direction option the problem seems to have sorted itself out.

  25. FlyBoyMcCall says:

    This time (the problem recurs), Zone Alarm is involved. Shutting down the firewall enabled me to drag a cell normally. The problem returned with I restarted Zone Alarm. Still looking for a fix.

    Interesting side point: the “Undo” and “Redo” arrows do not trigger the error; only the act of dragging.

  26. Kosmosniks says:

    I had to close Free Download Manager v 3.9.2 build 1303 to stop this error from occurring. While Microsoft Excel 2013 was opened "n stopped the program from the Notifications section Windows 8.1 and the error stopped. Again while opening FDM while Excel
    stays open introduced the error again. I then upgraded to v 3.9.4 build 1472 and the error persisted! Maybe I will be searching for another download manager 🙂

    Next I tested on my Windows 7 Ultimate PC, same error. So I uninstalled FDM and the error persisted until the Free Download Manager Chrome plugin crashed by me manually ending one chrome.exe at a time. There after I was able to drag / drop cell contents or
    copy / paste them in my Excel. This version of Excel is 2010.

    Hope this help 🙂

  27. user says:

    google earth causes a similar problem

  28. David Chan says:

    If MultiMon taskbar is the issue for you, go to the Multimon Taskbar Properties and uncheck "Add Multi-Text Clipboard".

  29. Name says:

    M8 Clipboard (Freeclip) appears to cause the problem for me.

  30. Myra says:

    Thank you. Google Earth was my problem. I closed it and the problem went away. But every time I re-open it, Excel starts giving the error message again. At least I can avoid the problem now!

  31. Brent S says:

    It’s obvious by now that there are multiple programs that hook the clipboard and MS Excel doesn’t like it. I found a solution. Use another spreadsheet program like LibreOffice Calc until Microsoft fixes it.

  32. TKelly says:

    You haven’t "narrowed down" a damn thing! Hundreds of users WITHOUT Bing Search Bar and having the same problems. READ THE BLOGS!! IT IS TIME TO FIX THIS DAMN PROBLEM! We have businesses to run. We don’t have time to "Try this and try that". That is what
    we pay Microsoft for!.

    1. ThePreston says:

      @TKelly — MSFT will NEVER fix this Clipboard issue involving Excel 2010, Excel 2013, and NOW EXCEL 2016!
      *** FOR ME, this Infamous Excel Error cleared up (so far), when I uninstalled ToolWiz Time Freeze (which creates a temporary virtual machine environment). Funny thing, Excel 2010 was never troubled by ToolWiz.
      *** It is AMAZING the huge number of software hated by Excel. And I thought Outlook was temperamental.

  33. Hongjun Liu says:

    I met the error which was caused by PowerWordDict.
    Resolution: Close PowerWordDict software application.

    Hope that helps someone.

  34. anonymous says:

    I never saw this problem until the last update was installed last weekend. Now I see it constantly. I have not added any new software. This problem will also eventually result in Excel acting very strange. The cell box that highlights which cell you are currently in disappears and eventually, Excel just freezes up and stops working. Even without copying and pasting but just via entering data into cells. I have to close and reopen Excel to get it to work again. The clipboard error will no longer appear – for at least the first few copy/paste or format painter uses and then, it starts popping up again. This, in my opinion is either an Excel issue or a Windows issue with how it is using the clipboard. Fix this please.

  35. Mark Suggs says:

    Where’s the solution to UNINSTALL the Bing desktop?

    1. Mark Suggs says:

      The only application I have running is Excel and a browser. Excel is the only thing using the clipboard. This is an Excel problem that shouldn’t be blamed on other applications.

  36. Ryan says:

    I closed down outlook and issue gone. I opened up outlook and issue came back. So the clipboard issue is related to outlook running in the background somehow. WHY can’t you just turn off the STUPID clipboard option in Excel. Gates is worth how many billions and can’t make an off switch for clipboard option!!

  37. Martin Coard says:

    This “We couldn’t free up space on the Clipboard. Another program might…..” problem in Excel is plaguing me as well. Then Excel even refuses to allow selection of cells. I’m running Office 365 under Windows 10 and all Windows updates are installed. I don’t have Bing Desktop, Chrome, Google Earth, Skype, Zone Alarm or any of the other programs given in the various comments installed. SURELY Microsoft could come up with a solution that is crippling the use of Excel for me and, judging by the comments, many other users?

  38. ThePreston says:

    FOR ME, this Infamous Excel Error cleared up (so far), when I uninstalled ToolWiz Time Freeze (which creates a temporary virtual machine environment). Funny thing, Excel 2010 was never troubled by ToolWiz.

  39. jennifer says:

    I do not have Bing Desktop installed on my computer, I get this error message almost every time I cut and paste, which is frustrating because that’s all I do all day! I am using Excel 2016 on a Windows 7 laptop. Reading through all of these responses, I don’t really use anything that could be causing the issue. I always have Outlook open, why would a Microsoft product be fighting with itself? Not sure that’s the culprit as I still have the issue when it’s closed. I have closed every program except Excel and I still get the error. Based on what I’m reading, it appears to me to be Outlook or Firefox causing the issue, but I need both of these programs to do my job, so uninstalling either is not an option. Any other suggestions?

  40. John Davitt says:

    I never had this problem when I was running Windows 7 Pro. Since I have “Upgraded” to Win 10 Pro, almost every time I try to copy in Excel I get the error message “We couldn’t free up space on the Clipboard. Another program might be using it right now.” I don’t use Word very often. I haven’t seen this to be a problem in any other application. I am using Office 2013 in Windows 10 Pro Ver. 10.0.10586 Build 10586.

  41. Susan says:

    I don’t have Bing installed and have this error continually. MS needs to fix their program. This is a huge waste of time.

  42. LGrace says:

    Mine seems to have been Windows Shadow Service. OR acrobat updater. When I used task manager to shut these down, my copy paste in excel worked.

    1. LGrace says:

      That should have been Windows Shadow COPY service.

  43. David says:

    Was BeyondCompare for me, specifically their “Clipboard Compare” program. Excel would still let me copy/paste it would just give me the annoying message every time. Exiting Clipboard Compare from the task tray fixed it.

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