Fix ‘Retrieving data, wait a few seconds, and try to cut or copy’ error in MS Excel


Are you constantly frustrated while trying to copy and paste data in Excel?

Does the dreaded “Retrieving Data. Wait a few seconds and try to cut or copy again” error keeps reappearing every time you attempt to transfer information between devices or apps?

This blog post provides insight into what causes this common issuevarious fixes for it, preventive tips on avoiding future errors, and other helpful knowledge for making your workflow more efficient.

Key Takeaways

  • The “Retrieving Data. Wait a Few Seconds and try to cut or copy again” error message in Microsoft Excel is caused by an incompatibility between the web app version of Excel and the Desktop application due to data synchronization issues.
  • Common fixes for this issue are deselecting & selecting cellsrefreshing the workbook, copying/pasting with Paste Special, trying a different browser, or downloading an offline copy.
  • To avoid similar errors related not only to retrieving data but also to potential cyberattackers it’s recommended to take preventive measures such as minimizing large amounts of stored data; relying on efficient shortcuts & functions; saving their work frequently; regularly updating software & hardware.

Understanding And Troubleshooting The “Fix Retrieving Data” Error Message In Excel

This section discusses the causes of the error message, as well as various troubleshooting tips and strategies to fix it.

What Causes The Error Message?

This error is triggered by an incompatibility between the web app version of Excel and the Desktop Excel application.

This happens when users make changes in the existing document on the online server without downloading an offline copy, as Microsoft Office programs were initially made for offline use.

When they attempt to paste that data, it goes through a validation process implemented by Microsoft Office to ensure that all information stored online matches what is contained within its desktop version before allowing users to proceed with their work.

The validation can fail due to certain conditions, resulting in this error message being displayed. Common issues that may cause these errors include working on incomplete documents (without any saved data), switching from one web browser extension’s clipboard history feature over another’s (e.g., IE versus Firefox or Chrome), temporarily losing connection with web servers, copying large amounts of data at once, or using outdated software versions which are no longer compatible with each other due to changes in file formats over time.

How Does It Affect Your Work?

The “Retrieving Data. Wait a few seconds and try to cut or copy again” error message can have serious implications in terms of productivity and efficiency in the workplace.

This issue is most likely encountered by Excel Online users when copying data from one app/location to another, either within Excel Online or between Excel Online and MS Office for desktop.

When this occurs, helpful information may be lost as well as precious time that could have been devoted to other tasks – which can easily hamper an organization’s workflow and business objectives.

Basic Troubleshooting Tips

  • This error message is commonly encountered in Microsoft Excel online when trying to paste copied data updating the app or copy content from the web version of Excel to the desktop application.
  • It often occurs due to problems with syncing data between their device and server. A validation process has to take place as part of this synchronization for data copied across different applications to work properly, and errors can occur during this time causing the “Retrieving Data” message popup.
  • This issue can be resolved by deselecting all currently selected fields, refreshing your browser window, copying/pasting with “Paste Special,” installing a new browser such as Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome, downloading an offline copy of the document then transferring it over manually, utilizing Microsoft’s Clipboard History feature-tools present in Office 365 subscriptions-or updating your software if possible.
  • To avoid future issues related to ransomware attacks that could cost you important information users should consider minimizing large amounts of stored data within worksheets whenever they can; relying on efficient shortcuts & functions available; saving their work frequently since manual backups are seldom enough; and regularly update & maintain software & hardware for best results.

Quick Fixes For The “Retrieving Data” Error In Excel

1. Deselect The Text Selection

Sometimes, the simplest solution to an error message is to simply deselect and then reselect the fields you want to copy or paste. Deselecting the text selection will help clear any data syncing issues that might be preventing your Excel document from transferring properly.

When attempting to deselect and select a field in Excel, make sure you first click outside of the cell area where you want to cut and paste data. This way, no other cells are accidentally selected along with it, thus helping avoid potential errors further down in the copying process.

Additionally, when selecting a new area of cells for pasting information into another application or a different version of Excel, do not drag-and-drop; make sure each cell is being selected individually by clicking on them one at a time before pressing the Ctrl + C key combination for cutting or copying actions respectively.

2. Refresh The Excel Workbook

Refreshing the Excel workbook is a simple yet effective way to troubleshoot the error message in Microsoft Excel. The process involves reloading your active workbook from the cloud server, synchronizing changes made by other users, and updating any existing formulas.

To refresh an Excel workbook, open the file on Windows or Mac and click ‘Data’ > ‘Refresh All’ in the ribbon menu bar. Note that when you do this, any pending modifications will be discarded.

It may also cause formulas linked to external sources like Power BI or SharePoint lists to become unresponsive if those resources are no longer available due to network restrictions or security protocols.

Also, note that refreshing affects all tabs within your workbook – a single tab at a time cannot be refreshed without loading into worksheet mode first.

3. Wait for a few seconds and try to Cut or Copy And Paste With “Paste Special”

Copy and paste is an extremely useful function found in most software programs, particularly those associated with Microsoft Office. However, users often run into errors while attempting to copy data from Excel online into other applications or copying content from one part of Excel online to another.

Fortunately, users can avoid these pesky errors by utilizing the “Paste Special” feature in Excel. This feature provides more precise methods of copying information from place to place without running into syncing issues, as well as giving you the ability to pick different formats (Text/HTML/Unicode Text, etc) when pasting copied information – all vital for avoiding potential problems while moving data around excel sheets & across different programs.

4. Try A Different Browser

Swapping to a different browser can be an effective way for dealing with the error message while using Excel. The issue is related to the validation process when copying and pasting operations are performed in Microsoft Office programs.

This makes certain web browsers such as Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge more prone to this problem due to their underlying code structure, which leads them to become unstable during these processes sometimes.

Switching the browser does require some preparations since all settings need to be adjusted for some security concerns to happen properly; especially if we’re talking about enterprise-level automation scripts across different versions of Excel files that have been protected by passwords beforehand.

For instance, downloading an offline document so it won’t interact with its online versions until whenever further authorizations occur could protect potential losses derived from human mistakes being replicated throughout multiple branches of information accumulated from internal sources mixing products’ values into one snapshot used at accounting departments most of the times (i.e: financial reports).

5. Download An Offline Copy Of The Document

By downloading an offline copy of the document, users can prevent experiencing the error message when attempting to copy or paste data in Excel Online.

The process is simple: after clicking “File”, select “Download a Copy” to save it onto your local PC or Mac computer and gain full access and control over the file.

This allows you to bypass Microsoft Office’s built-in verification process that causes the error message when you are transferring data between applications or versions of Excel.

However, there are some potential downsides when using this method. Downloading an offline copy should only resort if other potential fixes listed here do not work; depending on how many times files have been modified both online and locally since it was initially saved online, conflicts may arise due to files being out-of-sync resulting in further issues with saving changes properly once uploaded back up online.

It is also important to note that any changes made while working on an offline version must be eventually uploaded separately back onto its designated cloud server for those modifications to take effect across all users who share/access it simultaneously.

Advanced Fixes For Persisting Errors

1. Utilizing Microsoft’s Clipboard History Feature

With the Clipboard History feature, available in Microsoft Excel since version 2010, users can access previously copied items and paste them without encountering this issue.

Wait a few seconds and try to cut or copy again” error message. To enable the Clipboard History feature, open the Options menu from within Excel and select Advanced.

Once enabled, users have quick access to any of their recent copies through a popup menu that appears when they press CTRL+V on Windows computers (or CMD+V on Macs). This allows easy recovery of text or data copied earlier without having to go back through multiple steps.

Additionally, it supports up to 24 items that were clipped by using Office programs like Word or PowerPoint as well as standard keyboard shortcuts for cutting/copying – providing an efficient way of working with large amounts of information even if some data is lost due to retrieval errors along the way.

2. Updating Excel Software

Updating Excel software is an important step to ensure smooth usage of the application and mitigate any potential errors. It can make sure that users get bug fixes, security patches, and performance improvements that the developers added over time.

Fortunately, updating Excel can be a simple process if users have Office 365 or are subscribed to Microsoft’s Office suite. Users just need to click on “Check for Updates” in any version of Office under the “Help” menu option which will check with Microsoft servers for available updates automatically.

If new updates are available, then the user needs only select them and allow wanted changes to be downloaded and implemented. Those who do not have subscription-based access to their office tools like older versions may require a manual download from its official website after filling out necessary information regarding the purchased product depending on the brand/edition being used by them.

3. Switching Excel Versions

Swapping to a different version of Excel can be an effective way to troubleshoot the error. Downloading and activating the older or newer version may help users resolve data syncing issues and get their work done with fewer errors.

To begin, download a copy of the Excel version you want by going to Microsoft’s website, where you can also find installation instructions tailored for specific devices like PCs or tablets.

Users are advised to pay attention to compatibility when transitioning from one version of the Excel Office suite (2013-2019)to another; some features may not be supported on certain older versions, so make sure your documents won’t lose valuable information in that process.

After setting up the new software package, open it normally and attempt any outstanding tasks again–namely cutting/pasting functions–in hopes they’ll succeed this time around.

4. Clearing Cache And Temporary Files

This is an important practice for preventing errors and optimizing system performance. Regularly clearing the cache and temporary files helps free up disk spaceeliminate corrupted data from lengthy copy-and-paste operations, and reduce browser crashes.

On Excel specifically, clearing the cache can help resolve various issues and allows users to retry a cut or copy after waiting a few seconds as instructed by the message.

Clearing the cache and temporary files manually can be done using Windows 10 Disk Cleanup Utility (accessed via start menu > type “disk cleanup”) by selecting unnecessary file types for deletion such as recycle bin items, downloaded program files, system error memory dump files, etc; alternatively third-party software like CCleaner can also be used in addition to manual selections made within individual browsers such Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge settings tab options.

It is recommended that this process is regularly carried out on both home computers and business networks either manually or by syncing updates with external IT support where available.

5. Disabling Add-ins And Extensions

This maybe one of the more advanced fixes to try when troubleshooting errors in Excel. Additional features such as add-ins and extensions can interfere with Excel’s data syncing process, resulting in errors and interruption of work.

To disable an add-in or extension in Microsoft Office 365, simply open up the File menu followed by Options > Add-Ins; select COM Add-Ins from the drop-down list then click Go.

From there you will find a list of all activated add-ins that are currently enabled for use on your device; uncheck any unwanted items then close out – this should help reduce conflicts between real-time data synchronization services provided by Office 365 apps like Excel online.

6. Repairing Or Reinstalling Office Programs

Repairing or reinstalling Office programs can help resolve the error message in Excel. To repair an existing program, first, open your Program and Features list by clicking on the Start button and selecting Control Panel.

Then locate Microsoft Office in the list of installed programs, and select it with a right-click to start the repair process. You will then have two options – Quick Repair or Online Repair.

On the other hand, for situations where repairing does not work out, users can also look at completely reinstalling Office programs onto their systems to fix this issue; however, they must make sure all important files from any crashed documents or worksheets are backed up beforehand to ensure these data do not get lost during new setup processes.

Prevention Strategies To Avoid Future Errors

  • Minimizing large amounts of data
  • Using Excel shortcuts and functions
  • Saving your work frequently
  • Regularly updating and maintaining software and hardware

Minimizing Large Amounts Of Data

One of the potential triggers for the error is having too much data in an Excel file. Large data sets can slow down Excel and increase the chances of an error occurring during synchronization with external applications, especially when it comes to copying large amounts of cells together.

Therefore, optimizing your data sets by filtering or sorting what you need before pasting can help prevent future errors from occurring. Additionally, regular maintenance such as clearing out unused rows and columns should be conducted on all Excel sheets regularly which will ensure that only necessary information is being stored even if there are hundreds of pieces of data being tracked in a single sheet.

Using Excel Shortcuts And Functions

Utilizing Excel keyboard shortcuts and functions can be instrumental in optimizing the workflow of users who have encountered persistent errors when using Microsoft Office.

Keyboard shortcuts, such as Ctrl+C for copying, or Shift+Space for selecting entire rows of data, are especially helpful when attempting to select large amounts of data quickly without running into a synchronization error.

Similarly, Excel’s built-in functions enable users to effectively link fields from different sheets and retrieve values more efficiently than trying to manually select cells.

By taking advantage of these functionalities users can stagger their inputs across workbooks that might otherwise trigger an error message when copying directly between them.

Saving Your Work Frequently

It is important to save your work frequently in Excel to avoid losing data from crashes, power outages, or other unexpected issues. This becomes even more crucial when you are dealing with large amounts of data as it could take several minutes or hours to complete the task again if not saved.

Good habits like making regular backups and creating both local and online copies can be a great way to manage this risk. Additionally, saving often also helps with workflow optimization as it easily allows an individual to restart from where they left off, eliminating the need for double-checking every step along the way.

Regularly Updating And Maintaining Software And Hardware

Outdated software and hardware can severely affect the program’s functionality as they may not be capable of handling certain tasks, causing data synchronization issues.

According to a McAfee survey, 95 percent of respondents agreed that outdated software was vulnerable to security threats such as viruses and malware. Similarly, neglecting regular system maintenance can lead to slowed down performance, poor performance quality, and potential errors when saving documents. due to a lack of storage space or failing memory modules.

Also See: Fix “Your Organization’s Data Cannot Be Pasted Here” Error


In conclusion, the “Retrieving Data. Wait a Few Seconds and Try to Cut or copy again” error in Excel is caused by data synchronization issues between online and desktop versions of Excel that can be avoided with certain strategies.

Taking preventative measures such as minimizing large amounts of datautilizing Excel functions and shortcutssaving work frequently, and regularly updating software and hardware will help reduce the risk of encountering this error when working with spreadsheets.


1. What causes data retrieval issues in Excel?

Data retrieval issues for Microsoft Excel are typically caused by slow loading times due to the large size of a file, temporary memory limitation, or other running programs which reduce overall available processing power on the device being used.

2. What should I do if I’m still experiencing problems with retrieving my data?

If you’re still having trouble viewing or manipulating your files despite performing the recommended steps, contact Microsoft’s technical support team for further assistance diagnosing remaining complications.

4. Is there any difference between copying and cutting content on an Excel sheet?

Yes: The main difference is that when “cutting” information from an Excel sheet it temporarily deletes source cells whereas copies the current selection into a buffer place; allowing users to reorganize the previously copied grid accordingly.

Also See: How To Freeze Rows And Columns In Excel?

I am a computer engineer holding a bachelor's degree in Computer Science, complemented by a Master's in Business Administration from University of Strathclyde, Scotland. I currently work as a Senior IT Consultant in Melbourne, Australia. With over 15 years of...