How to Troubleshoot When Copy-Paste Shortcut Isn’t Working

The copy-paste keyboard shortcuts (Ctrl + C to copy, Ctrl + V to paste) are some of the most frequently used shortcuts on a Windows computer. However, sometimes these shortcuts stop working properly leading to frustration. Here are the most common troubleshooting steps to try when the copy-paste shortcuts aren’t functioning:

Diagnose Keyboard Issues

First, ensure your keyboard is working properly and the shortcut keys themselves aren’t faulty. Try using the copy-paste shortcuts in the BIOS during startup to isolate issues with Windows. If the shortcuts work in BIOS but not in Windows, it likely points to a software issue.

Restart Windows Explorer

Sometimes restarting Windows Explorer can refresh the copy-paste functions:

  • Open Task Manager (Ctrl + Shift + Esc)
  • Go to the Processes tab
  • Right-click on Windows Explorer process
  • Select Restart

Run Windows Troubleshooters

Windows 10 has built-in troubleshooting tools that can diagnose and fix common issues:

  • Open Settings app > Update & Security > Troubleshoot
  • Run the Keyboard and Windows Store Apps troubleshooter
  • Follow the on-screen directions and apply fixes

Update Windows

An outdated Windows version can cause incompatibilities leading to copy-paste failure. Install the latest Windows updates:

  • Open Settings app > Update & Security > Windows Update
  • Install available updates
  • Restart your PC

Uninstall Conflicting Apps

Third-party apps, especially clipboard managers, can interfere with the copy-paste function. Uninstall such apps and check if that helps.

Clear Clipboard Cache

A full clipboard cache could prevent copying new content. Clear the cache:

  • Open Command Prompt as admin
  • Run cmd /c "echo off | clip" command
  • Restart your PC

Check for Malware

Malware could be blocking access to the clipboard. Scan your system with a good antivirus program.

Update Hardware Drivers

Outdated keyboard, mouse or motherboard drivers could cause copy-paste to fail. Keep your drivers updated using:

  • Device Manager
  • Manufacturer’s website
  • Driver update utilities

Use System Restore

If copy-paste stopped working after a Windows update or installing an app, use System Restore to revert changes:

  • Go to Settings > Update & Security > Recovery
  • Under System Restore, choose a restore point before the issue occurred
  • Follow on-screen directions

Create New User Account

Corrupted user profiles can prevent copy-paste from working correctly. As a test, create a new user account and check if copy-paste works there. If it works in the new account, your original profile is likely corrupted.

These are some of the most common and effective troubleshooting tips to try when copy-paste keyboard shortcuts are not working on your Windows 10/11 computer. Using the step-by-step guides outlined here should help resolve the issue in most cases.