When clipboard freezes

By J. Carlton Collins, CPA

Q: Occasionally my Windows 8 computer refuses to copy and paste additional content, and I find that I must reboot to restore the copy-and-paste functionality. Can you tell me how to avoid or fix this problem?

A: You don’t need to reboot your computer to solve this problem. By default, Windows Clipboard saves the last 24 items you copied automatically; and you can view your cache of copied content from Word’s Home tab (or any Office product’s Home tab) by clicking the dropdown arrow located in the bottom-right corner of the Clipboard group, as circled in red in the image below.


By default, the Clipboard keeps the content from your last 24 copies until you close all of your Office applications, and then starts over again when you restart any Office application. If you fill the Clipboard with 24 copied objects and continue to use the copy tool, Clipboard simply truncates the oldest copied content and saves your newest copied content, so it continuously maintains your 24 most recent copies.

The problem occurs when the 24 saved copy jobs contain large amounts of text or larger images that require an unusually large amount of memory. For example, copying a sentence of text or a small picture requires very little memory, but copying 80 pages of text or numerous large high-resolution images may consume the maximum amount of memory allocated to the Clipboard function. In this case, Clipboard may not capture your next copied image because there is not enough memory available to complete the task. When this happens, clicking the Clear All button in the Clipboard tool (as circled in green above) will clear the saved images, freeing up memory that will allow you to continue using the copy-and-paste function.

If this is a frequent problem, you may want to increase the amount of memory allocated to the Clipboard tool, by taking the following steps:

1. Sign in as the administrator. To sign in to Windows 8 or 8.1 as the administrator, from the Apps screen, right-click on the Command Prompt icon and, from the pop-up menu, select Run as administrator, as pictured below.


At the prompt, type the command net user administrator / active:yes, and then press the Enter key.


2. Adjust your virtual memory. From Control Panel, select System, Advanced system settings to launch the System Properties dialog box. On the Advanced tab, in the Performance section, click the Settings button to launch the Performance Options dialog box. On the Advanced tab, in the Virtual Memory section, click the Change button to launch the Virtual Memory dialog box (pictured below).


Uncheck the box labeled Automatically manage paging file size for all drives; then, in the Initial size box, enter the amount of memory as recommended near the bottom of the dialog box (5112 in this example). Finally, enter a number in the Maximum size box equal to four times the amount of your computer’s installed RAM. (In this example, my computer has 12 GBs of installed RAM, or 12,000 MBs; therefore I entered 48,000 MBs into the maximum size box.) (By default, Windows sets the maximum size to three times the amount of RAM, but for this expansion of virtual memory, it is recommended that you increase this amount to four times the amount of RAM). To complete this process, click the Set button, and then click OK, OK, OK.

3. Deactivate the administrator account. To deactivate the Run as administrator setting, repeat step No. 1 above, but change the word yes in the command line to no, as pictured below. Alternatively, you could also log off and log back in to Windows using your normal username and password.


J. Carlton Collins
(carlton@asaresearch.com) is a technology consultant, CPE instructor, and a JofA contributing editor.

Note: Instructions for Microsoft Office in “Technology Q&A” refer to the 2013, 2010, and 2007 versions, unless otherwise specified.

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