Word 2007 clipboard slowdown

Office 2007 is a great piece of work, but there are some annoyances. Here’s one. Ever tried to grab some text from a web page and paste it into Word? I do this, using IE7, and often experience an irritating delay of up to 30 seconds or so, during which time this message appears:

“Contacting the server for information. Press ESC to cancel”. If you press ESC, nothing gets pasted. If you let it do its thing, then eventually your text gets pasted, by default with some attempt to preserve layout. I almost always just want the plain text, so I select that from the little paste menu that appears (the last vestige of smart tags).

What’s going on here? Well, the Windows clipboard is a complex and ancient Windows feature. When you copy something to the clipboard, applications may place data there in several different formats. Creating all these different formats can be an expensive operation, so there is also an option for the recipient application (client) to query the sending application (server) dynamically. In other words, the paste operation might initiate a conversation, instead of just grabbing some data and inserting it into a document. It wouldn’t astonish me if it still uses DDE, the forerunner to COM from the days of Windows 3.1.

If the paste operation is complex, you can forgive a little delay. But Word 2007 now lets you specify a default paste, which I have set to plain text. I’m confident that IE7 puts plain text on the clipboard as soon as you copy. In fact, you can prove this by copying something in IE7, then pasting into Notepad, which only understands plain text. It appears instantly. Then switch to Word 2007 and repeat the paste. You still get half a minute delay, before the text appears.

The explanation must be that Word 2007 gets all the complex formats first, and only then pastes the plain text. In consequence, even if you only want the plain text you nevertheless have to suffer the delay. The only way round it is to use Paste Special and select plain text from the formats on offer.

I guess it might be possible to write a macro to do this and attach it to a keyboard shortcut. Perhaps I’ll investigate when I get a quiet moment.

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25 thoughts on “Word 2007 clipboard slowdown”

  1. DDE used window messages to send commands, and query values (even live values with “hotlinking”). DDEML fortunately encapsulated everything in a procedural interface (requiring one callback function).
    Clipboard access is procedural, with window messages being passed in case a server app custom-rendered contents or provided data only on demand.
    afaik clipboard does not use DDE, but technologically they are on the same level.

  2. I’ve hated the default paste behaviour for ages. I wrote a Macro to paste plain text (in 1998, it seems), which I’ve dragged along to my current copy of Word 2003. I assign it to Ctrl- (which is a bit awkward for the fingers but sits neatly near the cut and copy shortcuts.

    Sub Paste_Special()

    ‘ Paste_Special Macro
    ‘ Macro recorded 01/05/98 by Lem Bingley

    Selection.PasteSpecial Link:=False, DataType:=wdPasteText, Placement:= _
    wdInLine, DisplayAsIcon:=False
    End Sub

  3. Well, I’m using Outlook 2007 and I’m experiencing the exact same issue. Not only when I post, but most of the times when I’m pressing post on an email! It’s very very anoying! Especially since it’s really holding back everything else in Outlook! Isn’t there a way to blog this?

  4. Interesting article, and I have seen others on the Web like it, but my copy of Word 2007 utterly ignores all the settings I have for “paste behavior”. I turned absolutely everything off and it still pasted text from applications with all the formatting retained.

    Haven’t yet found an answer to my problem (maybe there is an option somewhere overriding everything I have set up in the paste section) but it’s highly annoying.

    I’ll be using that macro kindly supplied by Lem until I find something better.

  5. I have the same issue in Outlook 2007. In my case the cause is embedded hyperlinks that cannot be resolved, and cause a sizeable timeout until program returns control to the user.

  6. I am running Outlook 2007 and IE6. I am getting the “contacting the server for information” dialog box with no “press ESC to cancel” option. It locks up Outlook and I just have to wait for it to release…any where form 10 to 30 seconds. This happens when I try to delete an email or move it to an archive folder.

    I tried all updates but no luck. How can I stop this from happening?

    Thank you,
    Marvin Welles

  7. For Word 2007 the ‘contacting server….” message disappear when I changed the following setting:
    Word Options->Advanced->Cut, Copy and Paste

    Change the ‘settings’ for ‘Use Smart Cut and Paste’ to ‘Default Word 97 -2000’

  8. I am having the same issue as Marvin with Outlook 2007. I have not yet found a solution. I will post here if I do. please any help would be much appreciated.

  9. Advanced->Cut, Copy and Paste
    Change the ’settings’ for ‘Use Smart Cut and Paste’ to ‘Default Word 97 -2000′”>

    Tony — Thank you Thank you! I’ve been struggling with this for months, and that worked like a charm! Dan, have you tried that?

  10. Advanced->Cut, Copy and Paste
    Change the ’settings’ for ‘Use Smart Cut and Paste’ to ‘Default Word 97 -2000′”>
    Thanks a million! Works like a charm.

  11. … very cool that there’s SOME fix for this… but what about the Outlook issue? That one often hangs permanently for me.

  12. Advanced->Cut, Copy and Paste
    Change the ’settings’ for ‘Use Smart Cut and Paste’ to ‘Default Word 97 -2000′”>

    …seemed to work; then, nada. still getting the same message. BUT, I did not have this problem from the outset…it only showed up recently!!!

  13. For me the word 2007 setting “Advanced->Cut, Copy and Paste Change the ’settings’ for ‘Use Smart Cut and Paste’ to ‘Default Word 97 -2000′” did not help. I found out that the standard setting works for regular HTML pages, but when the selection contains pictures, word 2007 wants to contact the source server to fetch them – this is not possible if word is prohibited to contacting the web freely.

  14. I experienced same problem and found another way around;

    After selecting and copying the text from the web page, click on the ‘paste special” under Home tab and select ” unformatted text’ or ” unformatted unicode text”.

    It takes one extra step but works very well. Hope this will help.

  15. Thank u Hakan i was not able to solve the problem with that Advanced->Cut, Copy and Paste Change the ’settings way but your suggested extra step has solved my problem however if u find any permanent solution please mail it to ankit221215@yahoo.com

  16. Here’s what I did to fix my “Contacting the server for information” problem in Outlook 2007.

    In Outlook 2007 click on Tools -> Options. Click on the ‘Mail Format’ tab then click the ‘Stationary and Fonts’ button. Click the ‘Personal Stationery’ tab. Click on the Theme button and choose another theme.

  17. I played around with the settings and this fixed it for me

    but you have to restart word for the changes to take effect

    word options
    web options
    untick the box that says
    Rely on CSS for font formatting.

    then send mircosoft hate mail

  18. I found if I tell Internet Explorer (IE) to work offline (an option in its File menu) then Word stops trying to connect to the page you are pasting.

    One is still able to use Firefox (or other browsers, presumably) to browse while IE is working offline. You can even close the IE window and it remembers the setting.

    There must be a registery setting for this. Can anyone find what it is?

    (I’m running WinXP)


  19. I was attempting to copy information from an internal werbpage onto a word document and I was having the exact same issue. I clicked on the Office button -> Woed Options, then I went to Cut, Copy, and Pate where I changed the folowing;

    Pasting within the same document: Match destination formatting
    Pasting between documents: Match destination formtting.
    Pasting between documents when style definitions conflict: Keep source formatting
    Pasting From other programs: Keep source formatting (default)

    This resolved my problem and when I copied the information from the internal website, it pasted exactly as I copied it on the Word document.

  20. Daniel= thanks! That worked for me after trying many other workarounds listed here and elsewhere.

    However, it still takes forever to paste the data from the web page. There has got to be a way to tell Word not to try to talk to any servers, just paste the damned text. Taking IE Offline works, but it seems like Word is still trying to validate every URL and email address, or something equally stupid, and it takes forever to complete the paste. I am not using Sharepoint, I’m just pasting Changelists from a P4Web page loaded in IE 6 to Word so I can convert the tables to text, but I want to preserve the other formatting and hyperlinks, I just don’t want Word to care if they are valid or not, or fetch any pictures (Perforce seems to insert a tiny image as a spacer between fields for some dumb reason).

    Please follow up with a reply if anyone has found a registry setting to force Word offline permanently.

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