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OMG: Skype Click to Call Breaks Excel so it can Only Paste Text?!??

Posted by Bob Warfield on March 24, 2012

This is an amazing bug that should be getting a lot more press.  I discovered it when I found that several Excel worksheets I regularly update were suddenly producing the wrong answers.  I went and looked and saw that instead of copying formulas when I cut and pasted, Excel was acting as if it was copying and pasting the text.  Essentially the formulas were lost.  When you think about all the things spreadsheets are used for, and how many of them are suddenly producing the wrong answers as a result of this problem, it’s scary.

Worse, I have no recollection of even being asked whether I wanted to install Skype Click to Call, it just happened.  It’s a browser add-in that is visible in IE and completely invisible in Chrome.  At least I couldn’t find it listed as an add-on yet I had to close all my Chrome windows to be able to uninstall it.

Skype has always been pretty sleazy and spammy–I hate a program where you can’t shut it down once it starts up unless you use the Task Manager or reboot–but this is ridiculous.

Help get the word out to uninstall Skype Click to Call ASAP if you use Excel at all.  You will not be happy to discover your spreadsheets are wrong!

6 Responses to “OMG: Skype Click to Call Breaks Excel so it can Only Paste Text?!??”

  1. schlafly said

    Wait — are you saying that some Skype browser widget is somehow sabotaging your Excel formulas?! I have heard that Skype plays rude games to get thru firewalls, but how would it get to your formulas?

    Microsoft bought Skype, so maybe Msft will clean up the mess some day.

  2. Exactly what I’m saying, Roger.

    It works by changing the behavior of cut and paste. Instead of cutting and pasting a cell’s formula and formats, it was turning the contents of the clipboard into text with formats. What you’d see looked like a successful paste–numbers and formats would appear in the pasted cells. What you might not realize until later was that cells that should have formulas would only have text that was the value of the cell you copied. So, if I had a column of cells that count up due to formulas like “=1+A1”. Let’s say I took row 2, which uses that formula to refer to row 1 and increment, and paste it down 100 rows. What’d I’d get is instead of it pasting the formula, it would just paste the value, “2”, in all those rows.

    Devilishly clever these Skype guys. I assume some aspect of their click to call does this to clipboard contents for some reason. I saw references to similar problems in Word, though they’re not as bad because Word doesn’t use formulas. It would simply screw up the table formatting somehow.

    • dougaross said

      Bob you are absolutely correct. I run firefox 11.0 and I found the same problem. In fact I was running Office 2000, so I figured it was time to upgrade to Office 2010. Which didn’t solve the problem.

      It was very confusing since after a reboot the problem went away, but I hadn’t run my browser yet. The key was to disable Click to Call in my browser add-ins. Problem solved!!!

      BTW: another symptom of this problem is when you select a cell and do a copy the cell border does not turn into little dashed lines.

  3. timothytim said

    It affects any paste you try to do into any MSOffice application, whether it is from a MSWord doc to another MSWord doc, from MSWord to MSExcel, or from your browser into either of them. What happens is that only text is copied, no formatting, formulas etc. I didn’t try it with Powerpoint, etc, but suspect the same for all MSOffice apps.

    This is confirmed also at the following link. It’s on MS Radar, but they apparently haven’t shot it down yet.

  4. I can so confirm this problem. Thank you to all of the above. I removed Skype Click to Call .. which somehow in the last week or two installed itself on my computer … the same duration I was having problems with cut and paste of entries including formulas in Excel 2003. Removal and reboot has solved the problem. Skype people .. Go have a good hard look at yourself and fix this malicious software problem you have introduced to the world.

  5. Yes, I had the same problem with copy-paste in general. In fact, every time I opened Chrome, I was unable to keep the formatting when trying to copy-paste anything, in any program (Word, Excel etc), even after closing Chrome. There was no icon to click upon and choose formatting. Funniest of all: when I tried to copy and paste a part of a document in “Scientific workplace” (a program that allows you to write text and mathematics as in Word, but producing files written in Latex), instead of pasting the original, its was the Latex code that was pasted! I thought that was a mysterious problem of Chrome, but making an internet search I discovered that it was Skype click to call that was the source of the problem.

    Note that this problem did not exist in the past.

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