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Office 2003: Cannot Empty The Clipboard Error Message

ms office 2003 error cannot empty clipboardCannot Empty The Clipboard

There are a multitude of explanations out there as to why this error appears but thus far I have only experienced this error for one reason and it’s very specific.


I connect to a Windows 2003 Server through Remote Desktop Connection and the next time I attempt to do a copy or cut & paste operation in Excel or Word I receive the error message:  Cannot empty the Clipboard as displayed in the above screenshot.<!– ckey=”35103946″ –>


I have never received this error for the following reasons (as alleged by many other websites):

  • Auto calc not on
  • User error
  • Windows Clipboard Viewer
  • Download Managers
  • Pixie Dust or Gremlins 🙂

This article briefly explains exactly what conditions this error occurs under and provides you with two solutions.  One is a temporary solution and one is more permanent.


It depends on the level of access you have to the Windows 2003 Server that you are accessing via Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) as to which solution you want or can use.


So briefly, when you connect to Windows 2003 Server via Windows Remote Desktop Connection your Windows Clipboard gets shared with the session that you create on the Terminal Server.  This process is managed on the server by a file named rdpclip.exe.  It is this file that is causing the problem.


Solution 1 (Temporary):

This solution is temporary and the problem is likely to return the next time you create a new session through RDC.

  1. Close all Microsoft Office programs that you currently have open on your local system.
  2. Open your Remote Desktop session on the Windows 2003 Server and close any open programs
  3. Right click on the taskbar and click Task Manager
    Cannot Empty Clipboard
  4. Click the Processes tab and then click the first column to sort the processes alphabetically
  5. Locate the process rdpclip.exe and click it to highlight it
  6. Click End Process buton
  7. In the next warning dialog, click Yes
  8. Now minimize your Remote Desktop session
  9. On your local system, start Microsoft Excel and test the copy/paste function


Solution 2:

This solution is more permanent but it requires you to have the access and confidence to install Microsoft hotfixes on the Windows 2003 Server and you’ll also need to reboot the server when you’re finished installing.

  1. Ensure you meet the following requirements:
    • Windows 2003 Server
    • x86 (for ia64 visit microsoft.com)
    • Service Pack 1 installed
  2. Download the hotfix here
  3. Install the hotfix on the Windows 2003 Server system
  4. Reboot the system and reconnect via Remote Desktop Connection


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  1. Raul says:

    Your solution might work for Server-2003.
    However, I’m running Excel-2007 on a Vista client.
    Same problem when trying to use the ‘drag & drop’ method for moving cells around (in my case 1 or 2 cells at a time – no large selections).
    In Vista there is no such rdclip.exe process.
    The clipboard has the option ‘Collect Without Showing Office Clipboard’ – I have done it with and without – same result.

    Thus, at least for me no answers.

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