Use Paste Special to Avoid Problems

June 23, 2011

Hopefully you all have the shortcut keys for Copy (Ctrl + C) and Paste (Ctrl + V) memorized. I’m guessing I use them at least 100 times a day. There are times when the regular Paste command needs to be avoided.

When you copy data to the clipboard, it is often stored in a variety of formats. One of those formats is given priority and that is what you get when you paste. Copying and pasting data in a single program rarely causes problems with the default format. It is when copying data in one program and pasting into another that problems can arise. Typically the default will be to insert the data into the other software as an OLE object. The process sounds great, but can easily break.

In those cases, select Paste Special instead of Paste. You’ll receive a dialog box showing you all of the data formats available for pasting. The top choice is what you get when you simply select Paste. Most of the time I’ll choose one of the other formats. The right format is highly dependent on the two programs involved and what you need to do with the data. Just knowing to use Paste Special puts you far ahead of most users!

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