How to fix stuck Mac OS X clipboard – won’t copy/paste anything new

Something has been bugging me with OS X for a while — sometimes the OS X clipboard (officially known as “pasteboard”) gets stuck and won’t accept any new ‘copied’ content. Instead, when you ‘paste’ in any app, the clipboard always pastes back the last thing you successfully copied.

One solution to this is to reboot the Mac, but since Mac OS X is generally so stable and doesn’t need to be periodically rebooted as a matter of course, rebooting a machine with many open apps and windows can be a hassle.

Searching for this issue online provides a lot of bad advice (one website I saw said “repair permissions and if that doesn’t work, reinstall the OS”… terrible advice.)

Other websites incorrectly advise to kill the PBS process and restart it.

Apple’s manual page for PBS notes it is not related to the Pasteboard process. Instead, the correct process to kill is PBoard.

So, to fix a stuck clipboard (pasteboard) problem, you simply need to:

1. Open your application folder

2. Open the utilities subfolder

3. Open the Activity Monitor app

4. Type “pboard” into the search box at the top right

5. In the search results below, there should only be one result — a row listing the “pboard” process. Highlight it by clicking on it.

6. Click the “x” button at the top left of the window which represents ‘quit this process’

Once you’ve done that, OS X will kill the faulty PBoard process and re-establish it with a fresh one automatically. Your clipboard should be back to normal.

I have a suspicion that this stuck clipboard is a bug in OS X Mavericks 10.9 – I don’t recall it happening before I installed that. It is still an (infrequent) current problem as at 10.9.2.


26 thoughts on “How to fix stuck Mac OS X clipboard – won’t copy/paste anything new

  1. John may be a particularly bad offender. I have seen it be broken for one app and not others. This did fix Pages clipboard on Yosemite. (El Cap too buggy for me.)

  2. Pingback: Michael Tsai - Blog - How to Fix Stuck Mac OS X Clipboard

  3. Pingback: OS X will not be copy-paste from out of nowhere when the solution … Initialize the Clipboard | The Life is happy

  4. Ian

    Did anyone have any luck with this? It drives me crazy. I have to close all my applications and log out, sometimes more than one time a day.

  5. Emil Atanasov

    It’s not working for me either. The interesting thing is that I can copy-n-paste between SOME apps only. For example: Firefox & Terminal. Unfortunately, the drag between Finder windows is not working. No idea, what’s wrong, but I see this on regular basis.

  6. Arun Rajan

    Did not work for me. btw this always happens via Chrome browser for me when copy pasting URL. Thats what triggers it.

  7. Manoj Jhanji

    Same for me also, copy paste from Chrome browser. I killed the pboard multiple times, no luck so far.

  8. Andrey

    for me it was Apple’s Notes app that was blocking copy/paste. After closing it – everything started to work again as before.

  9. Paula

    This process didn’t work for me, but until I found this post, I thought I was losing my mind. I can’t paste between Pages (5.6.2) documents. Running 10.10.5. The last copied item was a URL from Firefox (not Chrome).

  10. Genevieve

    God Bless you! I had tried all types of other things that hadn’t worked. Thank you so much!

  11. Smithy

    This worked for me. One additional step is that I needed to quit and restart the apps that were affected. Better than rebooting the whole machine.

  12. David

    I have tried all the suggestions noted and still have been unable to copy and paste from one application into Word or notepad. I can copy and paste or cut and paste within Word however. Where it not for my iPad Pro I would be unable to continue working at all.

  13. James Saxon

    Absolutely unacceptable Apple…. Here I am in macOS Sierra and the thing that came with the ORIGINAL MAC is broken?!?!?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s