Quick Fixes for Excel ‘Retrieving Data’ Error

excel retrieving data error

When you’re trying to copy data from Excel, you may run into problems retrieving it. Here’s how to fix the Excel Online ‘Retrieving Data’ error.

The Excel web app is a versatile tool that provides the ability to access and work on Excel files from any location with an internet connection. No matter the device you’re using, as long as it has a browser, you can manage your Excel files seamlessly.

However, sometimes this convenience may lead to some unexpected errors. For instance, when attempting to copy data from your Excel spreadsheet, you might encounter an error message instead of the desired data. If this issue arises, here are some effective methods to resolve Excel’s ‘Retrieving Data’ error swiftly.

Understanding Excel’s ‘Retrieving Data’ Error

The ‘Retrieving Data’ error typically appears when using the Excel web app. When trying to copy data from your spreadsheet to paste elsewhere, instead of pasting the desired data, an error message states: ‘Retrieving data. Wait a few seconds and try to cut or copy again,’ appears.

This error can indeed be frustrating; instead of pasting the information you need, you end up pasting an error message. The situation worsens when the problem persists, making a simple task like copying and pasting a rather tiresome process.

Fortunately, there are a few workarounds you can employ to overcome this frustrating error.

Attempt Copying and Pasting Again

As the error message suggests, waiting a few seconds and retrying the copy-paste action can sometimes resolve the issue. Excel might need a little time to process the data. However, there might be instances when no matter how long you wait, the error persists. If that happens, you can try the following methods.

Switch to a Different Browser

Given that the Excel web app relies on cloud-stored data, your web browser might be causing the problem if it fails to access the data correctly. An effective quick fix is to open the file in the Excel web app using a different browser. This may resolve the issue, allowing you to copy and paste without any hitches. If the error still occurs, try the methods mentioned below.

Use the Desktop App

Problems associated with the Excel web app accessing the spreadsheet data can often be resolved by opening the spreadsheet in the desktop app, if available.
Here’s a quick guide on opening your spreadsheet in the Excel desktop app:

Steps to open your spreadsheet in the Excel desktop app:

  1. Open the file you want to copy data from in the Excel web app.
  2. In the top right-hand corner, click Editing.
    Excel web app editing option
  3. Select Open in Desktop App.
    Excel open in desktop app option
  4. The Excel desktop app will launch and open the file.
  5. Once the file is open in the desktop app, try copying and pasting again. The ‘Retrieving Data’ error should no longer occur.

Download the Spreadsheet and Edit it Locally

Another method to overcome this error is to download a copy of your sheet and edit it locally. Since the file uses local data rather than cloud-stored data, Excel should be able to retrieve your data without any issues.

Steps to download a copy of your file in Excel:

  1. Open the problematic spreadsheet in the Excel web app.
  2. Click the File menu.
    Excel web app file menu
  3. From the left-hand menu, select Save As.
    Excel Save As option
  4. Choose Download a Copy.
    Excel Download a Copy option
  5. After the file has downloaded, locate it on your computer and open it in the desktop version of Excel.
  6. You should now be able to copy and paste the required data without encountering the ‘Retrieving Data’ error.

Additional Excel Tips and Tricks

Hopefully, one of the methods above has assisted you in quickly resolving Excel’s ‘Retrieving Data’ error. While this error can be frustrating, there are ways to work around it. If you’re pressed for time, and the data to be copied isn’t too extensive, you can always manually input the information you want to copy into its new location. It might not be the most efficient solution, but it can help you avoid the trial and error of other methods.
Excel offers numerous other helpful features that can come in handy. You can learn how to find and remove external links in Excel if they’re causing issues. If you need to perform data analysis, you can learn how to count cells with text in Excel. To further enhance your spreadsheets, you can learn how to enable (or disable) macros in Excel.



  1. bromberg

    May 21, 2023 at 10:52 am

    Your images display in EDGE fine but in Firefox they are black boxes (literally!).
    How come?

    • Steve Krause

      May 21, 2023 at 1:29 pm

      I’ve tested on Firefox. Perhaps try Chrome?

      • bromberg

        May 21, 2023 at 1:55 pm

        Are you saying your Firefox test was OK (because mine wasn’t)?

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