Windows: why is copy and paste unreliable?!

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Ever since Vista, really, but it’s worse with Win10. Half the time I use Snip & Sketch (which is great otherwise), it won’t paste unless I open it and hit the copy button again. Sometimes I’ll grab a string of text (text selection oddities… that’s another rant), and it will paste one character. Just now, I tried copying from both S&S, RDP, MSPaint, and when pasting into a rich text form in Edge: nothing. Hold CTRL+C, then CTRL+V, nothing; hit the copy button, paste button, nothing. Yet, I was able to paste into other programs. And, I could paste an image from another program into Edge. It’s just all over the map.

This is across computers, different environments, different accounts.

Comments (18)

18 responses to “Windows: why is copy and paste unreliable?!”

  1. timewash902

    I am rarely copy/pasting these days but when I do, I use it to remove any text formatting with Notepad.

    • bluvg

      I wish it was just a formatting issue (I use Notepad that way also). This is not pasting full stop. As if it never reached the clipboard, like both CTRL + C and/or clicking Copy never happened (even with multiple attempts).

  2. winner

    Why doesn't Windows Explorer display jpegs right when there are a lot of photos in a folder? Why doesn't a folder remember it's display settings? Why does Windows say it can't shut down due to programs running, then shuts down anyway?


    These are just the charms of Windows, a not overly refined OS.

    • bluvg

      Perhaps they could spend more time on Explorer.exe and friends than Paint 3D and other things no one was really asking for. One gets the impression that a lot of attention is placed on getting to the point of no glaring. breaking bugs, but little on refinement. I'm sure appcompat is huge challenge also. But cut and paste? C'mon.


      I'm hardly a Windows basher--the OS has many great things, too--but it's these little things that do drive me bonkers.

  3. simard57

    Same here - Copy/Paste is one of the least reliable features in Windows. Too often, what is pasted is not what I copied but a previous copied item. . I have started to use Windows C to see the copy history so I can ensure what is pasted is what I thought I copied. This is maddening.


  4. ianw789

    Perhaps your password manager is over-actively clearing the clipboard in an attempt to avoid having any passwords left there?

    • bluvg

      That's a great suggestion, but I've also seen this on machines without a password manager, and also in applications where it wouldn't apply.

  5. Belralph

    I have similar cut/copy/paste issues intermittently. Never can fully document a repeatable situation. Seems to come and go with Windows 10 updates, most notably the H1/H2. It could be that I run multiple password vaults (Keepass, Dashlane, Roboform) and they have features that clear the clipboard after xx seconds, though this is only supposed to apply when copying from inside those programs.


    I always wanted some kind of visual cue when cut/copy, like a little popup for 1-2 seconds with the contents, or have a dedicated box in the taskbar or system tray that would display the contents of the clipboard. At least I don't waste the time of going to the destination location and failing to paste before being able to tell there isn't anything copied.

  6. dougkinzinger

    @bluvg - you're not crazy, I've experienced it (really in Chromium Edge) myself. It's like CTRL-C didn't actually copy, so when I go to paste there's nothing there. I have to go back to Edge, copy again (usually hitting it 3 or so times quickly), then paste.

  7. boots

    It used to be that selected text was blue in active windows and grey in inactive windows. Now selected text can be blue in inactive windows (this web page in Chrome or Edge) or grey in active windows (Office). Double check the window you are copying from is actually active and not just pretending to be.

    • bluvg

      Thank you for the suggestion, but it's not a window focus issue. Many times it's definitely copying, because it will paste sometimes and not others, or even into some applications but not others. It's intermittent.

  8. SWCetacean

    I've not seen this issue on my end with any of my computers at any point in the last 10 years. With Windows 10, there's that clipboard history feature where you can see the stuff you copied in the past. Perhaps that could be useful to see what it captured. Use Ctrl-C, then use Win + V to open the clipboard history and see what's in the top entry. If the correct data is there, that means the problem is in the Paste end of the operation. If the history contains the bad data, then the problem lies with the Copy operation.


    The only time I've ever had problems with simple Ctrl-C + Ctrl-V was with a web-based serial console terminal. That terminal implemented an override of Copy and Paste which was separate from the system clipboard, which made it really annoying to get debug info from that console to paste it into a Jira ticket.

    • bluvg

      I don't typically use the clipboard history, but thank you for the suggestion. Many times, it's definitely an issue on the paste side, as it will paste in some programs but not others. Many other times, it's something between copying and pasting, where it's like the clipboard just loses its mind. Then there are times where it simply won't copy at all, or I'll have to hold down CTRL + C for a couple seconds, like it's just not getting the message to copy unless I send it several times.

  9. darkgrayknight

    Hmm, I haven't really seen that issue at all and I'm always using copy/paste.

  10. shark47

    I am having the same problem with Edge on a Mac. Cmd+C and Cmd+V doesn't always work. Maybe it's an Edge issue?

    • bluvg

      My issue with Edge was just an example. I've seen it countless times across many programs, going back to Vista (when Edge didn't yet exist), though more with Win10 since its launch (and I didn't use the original Edge that much).

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