7 Ways to Fix Copy and Paste Not Working on Mac

7 Ways to Fix Copy and Paste Not Working on Mac

Using copy and paste is one of the early things you learned to save time. While it makes your work easy, we can only imagine how devastating it can get when copy-and-paste stops working on Windows or Mac. We’ve addressed the former in a dedicated article, so this one will address the latter. If copy and paste is not working on your Mac, we’ll help you fix it.

You might wonder why Mac’s copy-paste is not working suddenly. This happens for many reasons, including glitches with certain system processes, bugs, etc. Whether you’re using the keyboard shortcut or the Edit toolbar, the function may fail. If that’s the case, go through the solutions mentioned below one by one, and your problem should be solved.

How to Copy and Paste on a Mac

To resolve the issue of macOS copy-paste not working, here are all the ways you can copy and paste on your Mac.

1. Using the Edit Toolbar

The toolbar on macOS is dynamic, offering options based on your current task. When you select text or a file, the toolbar displays Copy and Paste options. To access these options:

1. Select the object you want to copy.

2. Click the Edit button on the macOS toolbar, located at the top of the screen.

3. Choose Copy from the menu. The selected text or file will be copied to the clipboard.

4. Navigate to the desired location for pasting the copied object. Click the Edit button on the toolbar again.

5. Select Paste Item.

7 Ways to Fix Copy and Paste Not Working on Mac

2. Using Control-Click

Windows and macOS both have a right-click option, but on macOS, it’s called control-click. This allows you to bring up a contextual menu to copy and paste items. Here’s how it works:

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1. Select the object you want to copy.

2. Hold down the control key on your Mac’s keyboard and click on the text or file you want to copy. This will bring up a contextual menu.

3. Click the Copy button.

That’s it! Now you know how to use the control-click option on macOS to copy and paste.

7 Ways to Fix Copy and Paste Not Working on Mac

Step 4: Move to the location you want to paste the copied object. Hold down the control key and click on the area to paste the item.

7 Ways to Fix Copy and Paste Not Working on Mac

Step 5: Click on Paste Item.

7 Ways to Fix Copy and Paste Not Working on Mac

3. Using Keyboard Shortcuts

Copying and pasting text or files is the most popular and convenient method. Simply select the item and use “command + C” to copy, and “command + V” to paste.

Now, let’s address why your Mac won’t copy and paste, and how to fix it.

Why Is My Copy and Paste Not Working on Mac

Here are quick solutions to fix the copy-paste issue on your Mac, along with reasoning.

1. Force Quit the Pasteboard Server

Pboard, short for Pasteboard Server, facilitates information exchange on your Mac. When you copy or cut data, the Pasteboard server temporarily stores it and makes it available for pasting into other applications. It serves as your Mac’s clipboard.

If copy-and-paste isn’t working correctly, glitches in the Pasteboard server may be the cause. Stopping the server can resolve the issue and refresh the functionality.

There are two ways to end the pboard process on a Mac.

Method 1: Via Activity Monitor

Step 1: Click Go in the menu bar. Select Utilities.

Step 2: Double-click Activity Monitor.

7 Ways to Fix Copy and Paste Not Working on Mac

Step 3: Type “pboard” into the Activity Monitor’s search box. Double-click on “pboard” in the result window.

7 Ways to Fix Copy and Paste Not Working on Mac

Step 4: Click the Quit button.

7 Ways to Fix Copy and Paste Not Working on Mac

Step 5: Finally, select Force Quit.

7 Ways to Fix Copy and Paste Not Working on Mac

Killing the pasteboard server process and immediately starting it again will solve the problem.

Note: Force quitting pboard will delete recently-copied content stored in the pasteboard server’s memory. Before quitting pboard, make sure you still have access to the copied content, so you can easily copy it again when pboard restarts.

Method 2: Via Terminal

Step 1: Click Go in the menu bar. Select Utilities.

Step 2: Double-click Terminal.

7 Ways to Fix Copy and Paste Not Working on Mac

Step 3: Paste the line below into the Terminal console and hit Return. sudo killall pboard

You will be asked for your Mac password to proceed.

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7 Ways to Fix Copy and Paste Not Working on Mac

The Pasteboard server will be shut down and automatically restarted by your Mac. Try copying and pasting content to see if it works.

Fun fact: The Pasteboard Server also handles Drag and Drop operations on your Mac. So, force-quitting pboard might help you if you can’t drag and drop files on your MacBook.

2. Kill WindowServer Process

We found that some affected Mac users could fix the Copy and Paste issue by killing the WindowServer process. If force-quitting pboard doesn’t work, you can try this method. Follow the steps below:

Note: Save any ongoing tasks on your Mac before proceeding. Killing the WindowServer process will log you out of your Mac and close all active windows. After signing in with your Mac’s password, the closed apps and windows will reopen, and unsaved tasks may be lost.

Step 1: Click Go on the menu bar and select Utilities.

7 Ways to Fix Copy and Paste Not Working on Mac

Step 2: Double-click Activity Monitor.

7 Ways to Fix Copy and Paste Not Working on Mac

Step 3: Type “windowserver” in the search box and double-click on WindowServer.

Step 4: Click Quit.

7 Ways to Fix Copy and Paste Not Working on Mac

Review:

Step 5: Finally, tap Force Quit.

Revision:

Step 5: Tap Force Quit.

7 Ways to Fix Copy and Paste Not Working on Mac

3. Restart Your Mac

If you’re unable to copy or paste content after refreshing the pasteboard server, simply restart your Mac. Save your work, click the Apple logo in the top-right corner of the menu bar, and choose Restart.

7 Ways to Fix Copy and Paste Not Working on Mac

Check if copying and pasting works when your Mac comes back on. It’s a basic solution that works for most software issues.

4. Use Alternate Methods to Copy and Paste

In this article, we mentioned three ways to copy and paste on your Mac. If one method doesn’t work, try another to eliminate any issues with keyboard shortcuts.

5. Try Pasting on Other Apple Devices

All your Apple devices are linked to the same iCloud account and have synced clipboards. If you copy something on your Mac, you can paste it on your iPhone and iPad.

7 Ways to Fix Copy and Paste Not Working on Mac

If you have multiple Apple devices, try copying content on your Mac and pasting it on your iPhone. If it doesn’t work, try the following solutions to fix the clipboard issue on your Mac.

6. Use a Third-Party Clipboard App

There is a possibility that your Mac cannot store copied items to paste them. To address this issue, you can use a third-party clipboard app like CopyClip. CopyClip maintains your clipboard history, allowing you to paste items that you have copied at a later time. This app not only resolves the problem of copy-paste not working on your Mac, but also provides additional functionality for pasting previously copied items.

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7. Update Your Mac to the Latest Version of macOS

Some macOS versions can have issues. The current version of macOS might be causing problems with copying and pasting items. Update your Mac to the latest version to fix any software bugs. Here’s how to do it.

Step 1: Click on the Apple logo on the top-left of your screen. Select System Settings or System Preferences, depending on your macOS version.

7 Ways to Fix Copy and Paste Not Working on Mac

Step 2: Navigate to the General section.

7 Ways to Fix Copy and Paste Not Working on Mac

Step 3: Go to the Software Update tab. Your Mac will search for updates to install.

7 Ways to Fix Copy and Paste Not Working on Mac

If an update is available, update your device.

FAQs for Copy and Paste Not Working on Mac

To copy a picture from Google on a Mac, simply hold the control key and click on the image, then select Copy.

Unfortunately, macOS does not have a built-in clipboard history like Windows, so you cannot copy and paste multiple items natively. However, you can use third-party apps like CopyClip to achieve this.

If you’re unable to paste items copied on your iPhone onto your Mac, ensure that both devices are logged into the same Apple ID and connected to the internet. This will enable you to copy and paste items on both devices.

Copy and Paste Easily

We all use the Command + C and Command + V shortcuts daily. If your workflow involves copying data multiple times, it would be a bummer if the copy-and-paste functionality is not working on your Mac. However, it’s a simple issue that should be fixed by following the steps above.

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