Firefox Cut & Paste: 1 Bug, 4 Years, No Solution!

I love competition in the market just as much as the other guy. I’m comfortable with IE7, Opera, FF, and if the need be, Safari.
For the most part, I use Firefox nightly for general web browsing, and IE7 for forums and blogs. However, invariably, without fail, every single time a I install Firefox, within a month I am forced to either format or use IE7/Opera instead. This has been going on ever since I started using "Firefox" 3 years ago.

The Bug? No longer being able to cut and paste. AFAIK (from my programming experience), cut and paste is a simple API, you tell it what to copy and the PC does the rest. So imagine my frustration whet every single install of Firefox goes senile on me, and starts to forget to copy every now and then. It continues to get worse.

For the first month or so, Firefox runs perfect, when I tell it to copy, it copies; and when I don’t, it doesn’t. But before I know it, when I select text and attempt to copy (either ctrl+c, or right-click -> copy, or Edit -> Copy), instead of copying it empties the clipboard. I close Firefox, open Word, ReGet, IE, or something just to find out that my clipboard is empty. Thank God for Firefox’s "Go" menu and its list of recent sites, but that’s quite besides the point…

I don’t normally bug non-reproducibles. There really is no point IMO since they rarely are acted upon. But today I was posting something, then decided to cut and paste it into IE to use ieSpell.. *poof* it was gone. A page disappeared in a world of zeroes and ones. Enough is enough, I went to bugzilla to post it, then on instinct did a search… And I couldn’t believe my eyes! Over 20 separate reports, the first of which was posted in March 2002!! That bug report alone had over 60 comments and complaints, coming in steady for four years! Yet even now there is no solution. It exists in all builds, stable or otherwise, nightly, hourly, and more. 

I have taken this particular bug on as my mission. If I have the time, I’ll go through the source, but I think the best way to help is to bring it to attention. Firefox cannot expect to beat the competition without seriously thinking about 4 year old bug reports with no solutions and constant complaints and feedback.

Please help making the world of internet browsers and the competition between them a better place! Link to this post, vote the bug on bugzilla, check out the code, seed and digg the story!

A fix is now available! Please see our post here for details and download links to a good version of Firefox, courtesy of NeoSmart Technologies!

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  • 125 thoughts on “Firefox Cut & Paste: 1 Bug, 4 Years, No Solution!

    1. Happens to me too.. I thought I was crazy, or had some oddball problem. Sometimes it works, but most of the time it doesn’t anymore.. or I have to explicitly use the right-click paste method.. A CTRL-V, or SHIFT-INSERT does not work. Also related – Sometimes I am unable to highlight and right-click “Copy” text on a webpage.. The “copy” button does not show up in the right-click menu.

    2. I’ve seen that problem show up before on a few computers (permanently) and I’ve had it happen intermittently on my work machine. I’ve been running firefox at home for a long time now and ive never seen it happen on any of my home machines… Strange bug, but yeah, thats been bothering me on and off for years…

    3. This has happened to me many times in the past although it hasn’t happen whilst I have been 1.5 … maybe an extension causing it?

    4. I have noticed this bug in Ubuntu, but in Windws never came across it. OR maybe its for the reason that i use Opera 9 (weekly builds in Windows ) and FF in Ubuntu.

      Just hope this is a good wake up call for FF team and sorts it out.

    5. I have been using Firefox for almost a year now both at work and at home and I’ve never had this happening to me -at least not from what I can remember. Not being able to copy something does ring a bell…….. so I guess I’ll keep my eyes open.

    6. Yeah I’ve seen this bug on windows quite frequently, it just stops loading the clipboard..completely frustrating as it is the only application I’ve ever seen this behaviour from. Sometimes switching tabs "reactivates" the clipboard. I’ve never seen this with my linux box but I’ve been using galeon for years until quite recently.

    7. I’m with ya fella… I’ve had the same experiences copy and pasting… I thought it might have been photoshop, but now testing it I realise its been firefox all along!

    8. I don’t want this to sound like I’m some random Firefox fanatic and I’m trying to shift the blame here but Ive noticed this behavior on my PCs too.  However, it only happens with Microsoft Office programs like Word.  Almost as if Word is clearing the clipboard when it launches.  Could this (at least partially) be the cause of the issue you’ve been having?

    9. You don’t have a winXP remote desktop session open in the background?In this case i’m having the same problem.. everytime!

    10. This even exist on the Mac. Not to the point where you have to reinstall, but you do have to restart the application. Annoying!!!

    11. I spend many hours each day in FF without this problem. I’ve had very little problems using this code base (even back when it was called Firebird/Phoenix). It must be a rare conflict with your setup.

    12. I’ve never run a nightly, and I have seen this bug on Linux and Windows too.

      In my experience, if I find that the copy failed (these days, I daren’t close Firefox until I’m certain that the copy-paste has gone through okay) I’ll go back to the Firefox window and choose “Copy” from the context menu instead – that usually works fine.

      One observation though – I don’t find that the clipboard is empty, I just find that it still contains whatever was on there before. I think that for some reason the Ctrl-V action is just not getting interpreted – perhaps it’s a focus issue, or some other event handler stealing the message?

    13. Wierd problem but I have been using firefox for a long time in both windows and linux and something like this has never happened. Why do you use a nightly when you are not a developer or tester. Use the latest stable

    14. I have been using Firefox for about 3 years now and I never had that problem. So what you need to do is write an article on how your computer sucks and not Firefox.

    15. I thought it was just my PC – I can work around the problem by copying and pasting from Firefox to notepad then copy and paste from notepad to firefox.  As long as I use notepad in the middle it seems to be ok.

    16. What programming experience do you have? Cut and paste is usually an OS level "API," not an application level thing.

    17. From time to time, this is a problem on my computers. If I copy many times, it does get pasted at last. Some times I hold Ctrl C for a long time, repeating the copy command. In the end the text is copied to my clip board.

      It is very anoying, and the problem only occours in Firefox. It is a problem to copy things from web pages, adress bar and even the search box in the top right corner.

      PS! I was not able to comment you’re blog, using Firefox or ie6.

    18. I’ve seen this problem on my desktop PC, firefox on several other machines works fine.  Did a complete reinstall the other day which fixed it for a while but it has now stopped working again.  No idea what causes it!

    19. aah at last: firefox is the guilty app! (and i thought it was windows) i experience the same behaviour now and then, mostly when there is a link on a page without the <a href> and i copy and paste it in a new tab (yes i know, there is an extension for autolinking) or when i copy an adress for use in IE. and i use official releases only. nice (at least in some way) to hear that other users experience the same.

    20. I think the problem is at your end — if you want to copy something, please do it when the program is still running. why close firefox immediately after copying without pasting them first?The thins is, for portability, firefox implements a cut and paste routine that is universal, which, unfortunately, will mean it does not integrate well with whatever OS you use.And for goodness sake, PLEASE account for lagging in your computer. If you want a keypress to work instantaniously, I’m sorry to say that RT computers do not exist yet in hardware. Sometimes, when load is high, you can have a computer go so slow that some operations fail to take place, and this problem plagues windows/linux/os x for all I know.I hope I’ve answered your question.

    21. I have had the same problem as you, sometimes finding that when I go to paste a copied item, it just wasn’t copied. Fortunately, it’s not too hard to fix for me – I often use multiple windows (which can be, when I’m into some serious surfing, upwards of 30,35.. windows – I love FF’s tabs, they just keep the Windows taskbar so clear!), so I just flick back to the webpage, recopy, and flick back to wherever I wanted to paste the item.

      I’ve never really even thought about the problem as a result, but yeah, you’re right; somewhere deep down in that FF code, there’s a bug, and it won’t leave till someone does something about it.

    22. I’ve been using firefox from 1.0.5 to 1.5 with 10 extension installed and I never have the copy and paste problem.  can it be something screwed from installing IE7?  have you tried uninstalling IE 7?

    23. There just aren’t enough people experiencing it to make it a priority, I’m guessing. As a developer, I can tell you that bugs are never fixed in the order they are submitted, and I’m not surprised this one has been basically ignored since I’ve never heard of it. Maybe you should grab the code and investigate it on your own. This is the kind of thing that’s extremely difficult to fix without being able to reproduce it, so it might actually be easy to see what the problem is once it’s broken on your machine.

      Also, have you tried copying your entire FF profile to another machine once it’s broken? If that causes the problem to migrate as well, a copy of that profile might help a great deal in tracking it down. I might even give it look myself.

    24. I actually switched from Mozilla to Firefox because the version of Mozilla I was on at the time had a copy and paste bug where neither worked after you first started Mozilla.  Once you got something in your clipboard from elsewhere while Mozilla was running, however, then it was OK.  I have noticed the Firefox bug as well, but it shows up a lot less often.  Tempted to switch to Opera next…

    25. yea ive noticed this problem on some older machines but has never actually happened to my own. specifcally, it happened to my old roomate repeatedly. his computer is about 6 or 7 years old. i was never able to give the problem proper diagnosis but funny, i wouldve never guessed firefox was the cause.

    26. Please don’t argue for the bug to be fixed due to its age. There are lots of old bugs that are difficult to fix. The things that help a bug to be fixed quickly are (in no particular order):It can be reproduced every time by following a consistent series of steps and these steps can be followed by a developer and also reproduce the bug for them.It causes devestating damage (e.g. browser crashes) leaving a stack trace that can be given to a developer.It has security implications.There is a patch attached fixing the bug that doesn’t cause side effects.Bugs that are highly interimitant and seemingly don’t have a consitent pattern often go unfixed. I’ve suffered the problem you are complaining about but I have never found a pattern for when it happens AND it happens so rarely I am not willing to put any effort into trying to debug it.Please don’t start a campaign on bugzilla bugs in this fashion – it doesn’t help get the bug fixed it only generates a lot of friction. If you can find the exact steps that anybody can do that cause this to happen every time then that will help far far more.

    27. Hmm I needed to post that comment twice (firefox 1.5) in order to get it to be sent and the line breaking I had in it appears to have gone awry. Sorry about that.

    28. This could be caused by some other application that runs at the same time and locks the clipboard but fails to release it. I can at least imagine how such situation can be created using Windows API. I dont know how this works on Linux though.

    29. I have been running firefox for about a year and have had no problem like this ever, and never heard of it either  

    30. Had this happen to me on Mac OS X several too times.Too many to count.pre 1.0 branch1.0 branch1.5 branchI don’t know what causes it, but it sure is maddening.I’m not sure if I’ve ever had it happen to me on Windows, but at least not for a while (although I change builds every other week, which may affect the occurence as well).

    31. If you’re using Remote Desktop (RDP), on either Windows or Linux, you will find that copy paste breaks a lot – especially on windows. This is a known windows bug.With regards to Linux the default behaviour, when using X, is that the X server only requests the selected data when its pasted because of its content negotiation schema. This means that if you copy something, close Firefox and then try and paste, it won’t work.These could be the cause of your phantom bug.

    32. Take a look at Thunderbird and it’s never arriving integration with address book in OS X.. Hundreds of dollars of bounties has been made and still no progress. πŸ™

    33. Thanks for bringing this up. I’ve had the exact same problem on every single version of FF i’ve installed. –Name withheld in case of fanboy lynchmob.

    34. Thank you! I’m not the only one with this problem that crops up every so often. I have yet to find out what triggers this to happen with copy and paste in FF. It is annoying though, espically when you accidentally copy and paste a huge block of text that you had in clipboard instead of that URL you copied from another website in FF!Windows XP SP2 with nothing out of the ordinary and not a noob when it comes to such things.

    35. It’s definitely not your imagination. I’d never seen it until six months ago, now it does it on two different computers.

    36. Yup – this one’s a killer.  Has had me SEVERAL times.  Incidentally, what plugins do you have running?  It all started for me when I discovered plugins, customisation etc.  My list:- DOM inspector- Talkback- Forecastfox- Auto Copy (ahhh… Old version 0.6.2… This one perhaps?)- Adblock- Tabbrowser preferences- Customize Google- Fasterfox- IETab- Adblock FiltersetG updater- Colorful tabs- Viamatic foxpose- Searchstatus- Greasemonkey- Tab mix plus

    37. PS. I would have claimed this issue but in reverse. I have lots of problems coping from IE. not firefox.

    38. I think this bug mainly occurs when you leave some text selected in a tab in firefox somewhere. If you deselect the text then copy and paste will work as expected. I thought it was down to eclipse but its definately a problem with firefox which is why i switched to opera!!


    39. I’ve seen this in Mozilla suite but it was related to the web page content. It could take several tries till I select a small enough section that Mozilla would correctly select and save to the clipbpard.

    40. I get the same issue from time to time – it straight up forgets how to copy & paste. And then there’s the one when whenever you type ‘ in an input box it goes straight to the find bar…..

    41. That is happening for me as well, on the latest stable release. So I guess the bug is still there.

    42. I’ve had the same problem with Firefox installations on 2 out of my 3 computers.  It’s not a big deal, but can be very irritating, and is the sort of basic issue you’d think would be worth sorting.

    43. I can reproduce the bug with these steps:Open up a new firefox process.Go to http://digg.comSelect "create a small home". Ctrl-CGo to Address field (eveything should get selected)Hit Ctrl-V, it pastesHit Ctrl-Z. Undo.Hit Ctrl-A. Select allHit Ctrl-C, nothing gets copiedHit Ctrl-V, nothing gets insertedHit Ctrl-V, nothing gets inserted againRelease Ctrl between every press.

    44. I know exactly what you’re talking about! This bug is bugging me since I installed FF and I know from at least two friends who have the same problem now and then. Sometimes it works flawless and – especially when you don’t expect it of course – it fails.Some sort of "workaround" I use for now is to use "Cut" instead of "Copy" in the location edit box immediately followed by a "Paste" to see if it was successful – if not I’ll press "Ctrl Z" (on Windows this is) for undoing the cut and repeat the whole procedure. At worst it works on the 3rd round! :DOr I’ll simply do a "Copy" at least three times in a row – especially when I have selected some text in a page. (so basically pressing "Ctrl-C" for a few seconds to be sure ;o)Nevertheless this bug is of such a kind that it really is driving me crazy and gives me the creeps from time to time!!!
      This is on FF 1.5 (and now under WinXP – even after a clean install without any other weird apps/drivers running and it also happens on my Sony Vaio which has totally different hardware and on my other desktop with again totally different hardware and some more apps running in the background. Sometimes the clipboard is emptied (as described in this blog) and sometimes it simply still contains the data it had previously.

    45. Its not a problem with firefox itself. It affects firefox. This type of issue is hard indeed to reproduce. I had the same one with internet explorer. I could not copy-paste an info from my desktop to a database running in internet explorer that i could access via remote connection. Sometimes it was working, sometimes not. I had to close my remote access, copy, then reopen my access and paste. it was the only work around I came with. I only was affected by this issue.

    46. hey ive had this problem. it comes up ocassionallyi thought it must be something wrong with the OS.god, so it is a firefox bug

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