Unable to Copy and Paste on Mac? 3 Fixes to Try

woman using macbook

Operating systems installed on Macs are among the most reliable. That’s why this technology is popular not only among ordinary users but also among the advanced audience. However, nothing in our world is perfect, and problems occur even in the most reliable systems.

The main thing is not to panic and adhere to the recommendations of manufacturers and developers, and most of the problems can be eliminated quickly, and what is most important, independently, without turning to service centers for help.

Whether you’re working on a Mac desktop or a MacBook, there are certain key functions that you use frequently. The copy and paste functions are among them. They’ve been there since the first versions of the Mac. However, for some odd reason, users report that they’ve been unable to perform copy and paste functions lately.

Indeed, it can be a real pain if these functions stop operating properly, and someday a “clipboard error” message is displayed. As a result, the documents you are working on may freeze, or Mac’s universal clipboard may become unusable.

Why Copy and Paste Don’t Work

All the data you copy, such as text pieces, files, or images, is stored in a special buffer space called the clipboard. Technically, the clipboard is also software and part of the macOS package. That’s why it’s prone to errors and crashes.

And once the clipboard stops functioning normally, you won’t be able to perform copy and paste actions in the usual way. Furthermore, unlike other programs, the clipboard doesn’t have a user interface, so you can’t interact with it, log out of it, or restart it on a regular basis.

The only thing you can do is to see the last copied or cut object. To do this, perform the following steps:

  1. Open the Finder file and folder application.
  2. In the menu, click “Edit”.
  3. Select the command “Show clipboard”.

This action will allow the user to view the last copied object, but will not show the copying history.

If the issue is about moving files and folders to another location on your computer, we recommend that you first look at the properties of the file itself. Perhaps the problem lies in the lack of copying permission. In this case, all you need to do is to change the object’s access parameters (in some cases, the access parameters should also be changed for the folder or disk where you are going to copy the files).

How to Solve This Problem

After a detailed analysis of user feedback and study of the problem, experts, the developers offered specific recommendations on how you can quickly fix the problem. There are usually 3 ways that are aimed at getting the copy and paste functions back on your Mac.

It is best to try these methods step by step, one by one, and check after each one to see if the function has been restored. You may not have to do all three steps:

Solution No1. Forced Pboard server termination via activity monitor.

The Pasteboard option is an important feature of your entire laptop process that plays a role in copying and pasting. Pboard saves and transfers copied data from the source to the target folder or application. In fact, this is your clipboard, which is directly responsible for the correctness of the copy and paste operation.

If the copy and paste actions don’t work, it may be the Pboard server that is the problem. Consequently, it may help to stop the installation server. Using Activity Monitor to terminate the process is the easiest way.

  • Open Finder > Applications > Utilities, find Activity Monitor and double-click it.
  • Type Pboard in the Activity Monitor search box and double-click Pboard in the window with results.
  • Use the Exit and Force Quit buttons.

According to the reviews of most users, the above methods help to solve the problem of copying and pasting. If they did not help you, we recommend contacting a specialized service center, where they will help you figure out the problem and offer the most appropriate solution.

Solution No.2. Forced Pboard Server shutdown using the terminal.

As with the first method, terminating the Pboard Server process ensures that copy and paste actions are restored on your device as it clears the clipboard and updates these functions. In addition to using Activity Monitor, Mac users can also take advantage of the Terminal app to force termination.

  • Having opened Launchpad from the Mac Dock, select Other; after that you can open Terminal.
  • Enter the next command in the Terminal Console and press the Return key on your keyboard.
  • When the system prompts you, enter the password and press the Enter key.

After that, the installation server shuts down and is automatically restarted by your Mac. The copy and paste actions should resume their proper operation after the above actions are performed.

Solution No. 3. Forced shutdown of WindowServer.

WindowServer is an important system component that plays a key role in the entire Mac operating system. Forcing WindowServer to shut down is an efficient solution that helps fix the problems that have appeared on your device. Here is the algorithm for how to do it:

  • When the Activity Monitor is opened, proceed by typing WindowServer in the search box and double-click it.
  • Use the Exit and Force Quit buttons.

There are more detailed guidelines and information about how to activate the copy and paste functions. You can read and find out more here.