Working With The Windows Clipboard 


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This page describes various methods in Visual Basic For Applications (VBA) for copying data to and retrieving data from the Windows clipboard. In VBA, you are restricted to setting and retrieving only text data.

To copy data directly from a worksheet cell to the Windows clipboard, you can use the COPY method of the Range object, e.g., Range("A1").Copy.   However, copying other data to the clipboard, such as variable, cell comments, sheet names, etc, is not as simple as it might be.

VBA does not give you generic PutOnClipboard or GetOffClipboard procedures, so we'll create them here. Along the way, we'll look at how VBA does interact with the Windows clipboard.

Because these procedures use the DataObject  variable type, you must have a reference set in your VBA project to the Microsoft Forms 2.0 object library.

Copying To The Clipboard

To access the Windows Clipboard from VBA, you must go through an intermediate object of the DataObject type.  If your VBA procedure will be working with the clipboard, declare a NEW DataObject object with the following statement.

Dim MyDataObj As New DataObject

The  SetText method of the DataObject variable is used to store a text string or numeric value in the variable  For example:

MyDataObj.SetText  "This Is A Text String"     Or
MyDataObj.SetText  123.456  

This sets the contents of MyDataObj to a value.   To copy the contents of the variable MyDataObj to the Windows clipboard, use the PutInClipboard  method .


Pasting From The Clipboard

To retrieve the contents of the clipboard, use the following statement:


This sets the contents of MyDataObj  to the contents of the Windows clipboard.

The counterpart to the SetText method is the GetText method.  This method returns the contents of DataObject to another variable.  For example,

Dim MyVar As Variant
MyVar = MyDataObj.GetText

Using this knowledge, we can create the following VBA procedures:

Public Sub PutOnClipboard(Obj As Variant)
    Dim MyDataObj As New DataObject
    MyDataObj.SetText Format(Obj)
End Sub

Public Function GetOffClipboard() As Variant
    Dim MyDataObj As New DataObject
    GetOffClipboard = MyDataObj.GetText()
End Function

Public Sub ClearClipboard()
    Dim MyDataObj As New DataObject
    MyDataObj.SetText ""
End Sub

I use these formulas quite often to place the formula of the active cell on to the clipboard, to allow cut and paste operations without Excel changing any cell references. You may find it useful to link them to command items on your right click menu.

Sub CopyFormula()
    Dim x As New DataObject
    x.SetText ActiveCell.Formula
End Sub

Sub PasteFormula()
    On Error Resume Next
    Dim x As New DataObject
    ActiveCell.Formula = x.GetText
End Sub

Clearing The Clipboard

To completely clear the clipboard, you need to use a few API calls:

Declare Function CloseClipboard Lib "user32" () As Long
Declare Function EmptyClipboard Lib "user32" () As Long
Declare Function OpenClipboard Lib "user32" (ByVal hwnd As Long) As Long

Sub ClearClipboard()
    OpenClipboard 0&
End Sub