Cannot Copy or Paste Objects in PowerPoint

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Many of the AutoLayouts for PowerPoint slides include placeholders for titles, body text, and OLE objects. If you include an empty object placeholder in a multiple selection, you can copy the selection to the Clipboard, but the Paste and Paste Special commands will be unavailable (dimmed) even though the objects are on the Clipboard.


This problem is caused when you use the Select All command on the Edit menu rather than selecting several objects individually while holding down the SHIFT key. The Select All command selects the empty placeholders first. PowerPoint assigns special status to the object and the title placeholders and builds slides from the back of the slide to the front. If the placeholders have not been filled in, the objects resting in front of them are copied to the Clipboard, but they cannot be pasted.

Sending the empty placeholders to the front does not correct the problem.


Method 1: Use a Copy and Paste Operation

Select each of the objects by holding down the SHIFT key and clicking each object with the left mouse button. Do not select any empty placeholders. Copy the group of objects to the Clipboard and paste them into the new Slide.

Method 2: Use Send to Back Before You Copy

This method only works with PowerPoint 4.0 for Windows or Macintosh.

  1. Select two of the objects and click Send To Back on the Draw menu.
  2. On the Edit menu, click Select All.
  3. On the Edit menu, click Copy.
You can now paste the objects into other slides. With this method, the empty object and title placeholders are also copied but without their identifying text. They lose their status as fundamental PowerPoint objects.

Method 3: Fill in the Placeholders

Fill in the placeholders before using the Select All command. Copy the items to the Clipboard, and they will successfully paste.

Article ID: 124820 - Last Review: Aug 16, 2005 - Revision: 1