Using copy and paste is a routine part of most peoples Mac workflow, so if suddenly the Copy and Paste feature stops working or the clipboard appears stuck, you can imagine why that’s annoying.
Don’t stress out, most issues with nonfunctional clipboards and copy and paste on the Mac can be resolved with a series of fairly simple troubleshooting steps.
These tricks work the same on all versions of macOS and Mac OS X, they work by targeting the clipboard daemon and forcing it to relaunch. This resolves nearly all instances of a stuck clipboard or other issues where copy and paste stop working. We’ll show you two different approaches to this, one using Activity Monitor and another using the command line.
How to Fix Copy & Paste Not Working, Stuck Clipboard on Mac OS
One way to force the Clipboard to relaunch itself in Mac OS via Activity Monitor:
- Quit out of the Mac app(s) where copy/paste are not working as expected
- Open “Activity Monitor” application, it is found within the /Applications/Utilities/ folder or you can hit Command+Spacebar and type Activity Monitor to launch it via Spotlight
- In the Search box of Activity Monitor, type “pboard”
- Click on the ‘pboard’ process and then click the (X) in the Activity Monitor tool bar, then click on “Force Quit” button
- Exit Activity Monitor
Open a Mac app again where copy and paste was not working as expected, and try using the copy and paste commands again and it should work as expected.
If the commands are not working, next try using the “Edit” menu approach of manually selecting Copy and Paste. If that approach works, it suggests something is going on with the keyboard rather than the clipboard. Sometimes that can mean Mouse Keys is enabled, or that some other app is conflicting with the standard keyboard shortcuts.
If for whatever reason copy and paste is still not working after this trick, go ahead and restart the Mac by going too the Apple menu and choosing Restart. Restarting the Mac can often resolve issues like this, including some issues where Universal Clipboard may suddenly stop responding as expected, but obviously if you can remedy the problem without rebooting the Mac then that is preferable to most users.
Fix Stuck Mac Clipboard via Terminal
If you prefer to use the Terminal to remedy the problem, do the following:
- Open the Terminal application, found in /Applications/Utilities/
- Type the following command exactly:
- Hit Return
This will terminate and relaunch the pboard process, which is the clipboard daemon for Mac OS. If you’re savvy with the command line you can immediate test if the clipboard is working as expected with pbcopy and pbpaste, the command line tools that work with the clipboard on the Mac.
Again if this approach doesn’t work, just reboot the Mac.
If you know of another approach to resolving copy and paste problems in Mac OS and Mac OS X, share them with us in the comments below.