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The issue occurs for some users using Excel 2011 on OSX.

If the Excel spreadsheet is of any moderate size, say greater than 10 MB, when doing a simple copy and paste, there is sometimes a very long delay and the colored beach ball appears. It appears the program has hung.

Pressing command option escape, bringing up the dialogue box to force quit an application, shows Excel to not be responding. Yet if you wait long enough, the hang ends, all returns to normal, including the copy & paste being executed.

For a big Excel spreadsheet of around 100MB with multiple sheets and graphs, the wait time for a resolution (timed several times) is about 7.5 minutes.

This is a frustrating issue to pin down, as sometimes cut and paste in the same spreadsheet works fine. If not, and you use Force Quit, then often recent work is lost. This ill defined yet regularly recurring issue is a real productivity killer.

  • It is possible this issue only arises for Retina Macbook Pros.
  • This behavour and issue may be related to more general memory issues with Excel 2011 on OSX.
  • Excel 2016 does not appear to show this issue, just Excel 2011.
  • The issue appears independent of Office update or OSX version from OSX 10.8.x to OSX 10.11.x
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The best answer to this issue appears here: Excel 2011 copy and paste beach ball hang issue.

Essentially:

You need to do this every time you freshly open the Excel program.

  • On starting up Excel, and before opening your Excel spreadsheet, open a new blank Excel spreadsheet.

  • Perform a single copy and paste of an empty cell into another cell.

  • Do this twice. Doing it twice is important.

  • Close that spreadsheet, and without quitting Excel, open the spreadsheet you want to work on.

The problem should now not occur.

It seems that when a copy and paste is performed the first two times, Excel tries to do some mapping of all the relationships in the spreadsheet, and due to some coding issue, gets caught up in some long loops. Doing two copy and pastes first, with no big spreadsheets open satisfies this process with no vast spreadsheet to work through. Hence it avoids the long delay and apparent hang.

  • I have moved over to Excel 2016. If another OSX user has found that more recent updates to the Mac 2011 Excel version has resolved this issue, please post a comment or post which update resolved the issue as an answer. – Cam_Aust Jun 3 '17 at 5:14
  • That is weird, the additional answer, my comments to that posted answer, and the SE inbox message are all deleted, gone, with no comment or trace?? – Cam_Aust Jan 3 '18 at 11:55

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