You cannot paste any attributes into a workbook in another instance of Excel

Note

Office 365 ProPlus is being renamed to Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise. For more information about this change, read this blog post.

Symptoms

Consider the following scenario:

  • You run two instances of Microsoft Excel. 

Note

To force Excel to open in a second instance, press Alt, and then click the Excel icon.

  • You open a workbook in each instance of Excel.

  • Then, you intend to use the following Paste Special menu command to paste attributes from a cell in one workbook to a cell in the other workbook:

    use Paste Special to paste attributes

In this scenario, you cannot paste any attributes into the other workbook. The Excel Paste Special dialog box does not appear. Instead, the following Windows Paste Special dialog box appears:

cannot use Paste Special to paste attributes

Therefore, you cannot select any one of the following options:

  • Formulas
  • Values
  • Formats
  • Comments

These options appear only in the Excel Paste Special dialog box.

Cause

This behavior occurs because Excel cannot use its internal copying functionality when you run multiple instances of Excel. Instead, Excel relies on the Windows Paste Special dialog box for its copying functionality. When you run a single instance of Excel, Excel uses its internal copying functionality. Therefore, the Excel Paste Special dialog box is available in this situation.  

Workaround

To work around this behavior, open both workbooks in the same instance of Excel.