Mac Fixes

Copy & Paste Acting Up on a Mac? Here's How to Fix It

Restarting your Mac seems like the most obvious solution when copy and paste not working. However, it’s not always timely. Imagine you’re having a video call with your potential customer, and suddenly, you get a "sorry, no manipulations with clipboard allowed" message — no time to restart your Mac.  

Did you know?

The most common reason for the standard Mac functions error is that the device is clogged with unnecessary stuff and overloaded with open activities. It is possible to give your Mac a clean slate in just several clicks:

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Let’s fix copy and paste not working by using:

Fix the copy and paste not working with Activity Monitor

Activity Monitor is the best app when it comes to Mac troubleshooting. The best thing is that this utility can fix Mac copy and paste issues. You’ll need to quit and then relaunch the pboard process right from Activity Monitor. 


Here’s how:

1. Quit all the apps where copy/paste doesn’t work properly

2. Open Finder > Applications > Utilities > look for Activity Monitor. Alternatively, use Spotlight to open Activity Monitor  

3. Type pboard in the Activity Monitor search bar

activity monitor with search bar highlighted

4. Highlight the pboard process — press the X button in the right upper corner of the Activity Monitor window

5. Click the Force Quit button

6. Quit Activity Monitor


Now check if you can use copy/paste. Open the app where Command (⌘) + C and Command (⌘) + V weren’t working and use these shortcuts. Do copying and pasting text work correctly? If yes — you managed to fix this without restarting your Mac!

Fix the clipboard with Terminal

If you’re an advanced macOS user who knows what the Terminal app is for, you may use it as an alternative way to fix the copy/paste issue. The Terminal app can help you quit the process responsible for clipboard activity, and you can do it in three easy steps:


1. Launch the Terminal app. Go to Finder > Applications > Utilities. Or use Spotlight to find it

2. Type in killall pboard in the Terminal


 terminal with killall pboard highlighted


3. Hit Enter

How to enable copy and paste on a Mac

The fastest ways to copy and paste on your Mac are:

1. By using keyboard hotkeys: use Command (⌘) + C and Command (⌘) + V. Highlight some text or an item—press Command (⌘) + C hotkeys to copy — open the folder or a document — press Command (⌘) + V to paste

2. By using a mouse: highlight the text or item you need to copy. Right-click it — choose Copy from the drop-menu. Go to the folder or document — right-click in that window — select Paste from the drop-down menu. You this method if your Magic Mouse is acting up, too.


drop down menu with paste option highlighted

Parting thoughts

Did you know that you can also copy/paste by using menus on your Mac?


That’s it. Both these troubleshooting tips should reboot the clipboard’s daemon processes and help fix the copy and paste not working. Simply decide which troubleshooting method to use.  


If you see that copy and paste is not the only combination not working on you, Mac, try rebooting your Mac. Also, check your keyboard is plugged in properly. And if it's wireless, your Bluetooth might not be working.


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