One of the most common problems that you may face with Excel is when you open a file in Excel, It may suddenly freeze or hang up. Excel may also freeze when you open a particular workbook. And if you try to click on the opened page, Windows will show you a prompt like this.
The prompts may be:
“Microsoft Excel is not responding”
or “Microsoft Excel has stopped working”
The most common reasons for this are the third-party add-ins or macros that you may have added in Excel. These crashes or freezes may also happen due to antivirus utilities installed on your device.
If you quickly need to sort out some spreadsheet problem, you can use Google Docs. Although they bear similarities they are not exactly the same. You can check out our guide to find out the difference in our Google Docs vs Excel comparison.
But if you want to fix your Excel not responding problem, then this guide will help you through the process. This article works for any version of Excel starting from 2013 to Microsoft 365.
So, what are we waiting for? Let’s begin.
- Hold Up! Check Your System Environment First
- Excel Not Responding Fixes
- Safe Mode
- Automated Troubleshooting
- Manual Troubleshooting
- COM Add-ins
- Excel Add-ins
- Resetting Your Startup folder
- Installing the Latest Updates
- To Update Windows
- To Update Excel itself
- Excel in Use by Another App
- Check if Your Antivirus Software Is Causing Problems
- Repair Office Programs
- Uninstall and Reinstall
- To Wrap Up
Hold Up! Check Your System Environment First
Excel is one of the most versatile spreadsheet apps in the market and thus excel files are often shared among users. This means that you will be working with files from other’s systems and others will work on your Excel files.
If this is the case, conflicting environments may be one of the causes of Excel not responding. So check some of the points below before you start tinkering with Excel itself.
First, check if you have enough memory to run Excel. With multiple people working on a workbook, Excel files may become bulky and be added with tons of formatting, hidden rows, and columns. To ensure that your system can take the load of all these memory-hogging formatting, make sure your system has the required memory for running your Excel.
Here are Microsoft’s own recommendations for your system requirements for excel:
System requirements for Office 2016
System requirements for Office 2013
System requirements for Office 2010
System requirements for Excel 2007
Secondly, make sure you are running your desired Excel file from a clean place. That is, if you are working with an online place or a remote desktop environment, we recommend that, save the file locally. This reduces the possibility of errors and issues like Excel not responding.
Finally, check your drivers. Excel works with Printers and video drivers. This is because Excel checks the printer and video drivers that will display the workbooks you open. So just change the default printer a couple of times to see if that solves your Excel not responding issue. You may change the default printer to something like the Microsoft XPS Document Writer or Fax to check if it solves your problem.
Normally Excel works slower if you save Excel files as a Page Break Preview view. So changing the default printer may solve your Excel not responding problem.
If these common troubleshooting scenarios did not help your case, let’s go to the advanced troubleshooting section below.
Excel Not Responding Fixes
Excel like any other program on your pc is prone to problems, hangs, or crashes. But It is not very often that it is particularly Excel that is facing problems.
Excel may be not responding because of an issue in Excel itself or a problem with your system. And the most common solution for Excel not responding would be to close excel completely and open it again.
If it does not work, and even if you know that your system is working fine, the best practice is to turn your system off and on once.
Restarting your system will hopefully fix your Excel not responding problem. But, what if these common troubleshooting solutions do not work in your case, and you are still getting the Excel not responding problem?
In that case, you have to carefully perform these fixes below.
If restarting your Excel and even restarting your system did not fix your problem and excel is still not responding when you are opening a file, you may want to launch it in safe mode.
What safe mode does is it automatically disabled your add-ins and Excel starts with only the most essential parts. So if any of your add-ins are causing the excel not responding issue launching in safe mode will fix the issue.
So launching Excel in safe mode will also allow you to determine if the problem is caused by any of your add-ins or macros. To launch Excel in safe mode, just follow the automated route or the manual route.
The most straightforward and easiest method to solve your Excel not responding problem is to use Microsoft’s troubleshooting tool that will automatically take care of business.
The tool automatically launches Excel in safe mode and tries to figure out where the problem is generating from. The troubleshooter should automatically fix the not responding problem of excel.
To download and run the troubleshooter, just go to the following link: Microsoft Excel Troubleshooter.
The troubleshooter does several things to fix issues with your Excel. It primarily modifies your Registry and moves files used by Excel to determine the startup folder. So the best practice is to back up your registry files before trying this. Microsoft has a detailed process listed on how to back up and restore your Registry in Windows.
When you run the app it will pop up a window like this
Sometimes it may show another pop up like this, just press Install and you are fine. Don’t worry. This file is a part of Microsoft Troubleshooter and won’t cause any security trouble for your system.
The troubleshooter will install and automatically try to troubleshoot your Excel after you agree to the license agreements.
This should fix your Excel not responding issue. If it doesn’t then you may try manually opening Excel in Safe mode and trying from there.
If the Microsoft support tool did not fix the Excel not responding issue, you can go ahead and open up Excel in safe mode to manually troubleshoot the problem.
To do this just follow this process:
1. First, open up Run. To do this, if you are on a machine running Windows 11/ Windows 10 open up Run by simultaneously pressing the Windows key and the R key.
If you are on Windows 8.1 or Windows 8, go to your apps list and click on Run.
2. In the box that appears, enter Excel /safe
3. This will open Excel in Safe mode without the add-ins or macros as you can see in this image.
If your Excel starts in safe mode, just go ahead with the add-in section of this guide below. But if your Excel does not start in safe mode with this method, you need to update your Excel.
Add-ins are often an integral part of your workflow and you can add features and customization with add-ins. But often add-ins are one of the main reasons for Excel crashing or freezing.
There are primarily two types of Excel add-ins. They are COM add-ins and Excel add-ins. COM add-ins are add-ins that can be manually installed or removed. Excel add-ins are newer integration of add-ins which does not require installing any code in the user’s device. You can read more about the add-ins here.
To check if Excel not responding problem is happening due to a problem in these add-ins we’re going to show you how to enable or disable both add-in types.
To invoke the COM add-ins page and to understand which of your add-ins may be causing this issue just follow the steps:
1. Click on File, then options, and then Add-ins. This will open up a menu like this:
2. From there, select COM Add-ins and click Go. This will bring up a list of add ins.
3. Make sure to uncheck all the boxes and click OK.
4. Now, Close Excel and restart in normal mode (Not safe mode)
If Excel starts normally and does not give you the Excel not responding error then you are set. Now just enable the add-ins one by one to check which add-in is the culprit for your Excel not responding problem.
But if still Excel does not work properly and gives you Excel not responding issue then you have to go and follow the same process for the Excel Add-ins.
This is a more technical fix and we will require you to be careful while doing this. For this fix, you will have to edit your registry and so you should probably go and backup your registry in Windows. So lets do that first.
1. Go to this link to follow Microsoft’s guide on how to back up your Registry.
2. After you have safely backed up your registry, you have to open the registry editor. Just press Windows Key+R to pull up the Run dialogue box and type regedit.exe. Press enter and the registry editor will open up.
3. Now you have to locate the following key:
Notice how we wrote 1x.0 in angled brackets. This will be replaced with the office version you have installed. For our example, it is 16.0 as you can see in the image.
16.0 is the version number for Excel 2016 and later while 15.0 is for Excel 2013.
4. From here, look for any REZ_SZ values which are equal to OPEN. If you don’t find one that’s a relief. Then you can go over to our Startup Folders section of this guide. In our case, we did not find any REZ_SZ with the value OPEN. But for your convenience, we have marked all the other REZ_SZ values.
5. But if you do find one that does have the value OPEN, then it would look like this.
From here right click on OPEN and select Rename to rename the value to RenamedOPEN.
6. Do this for any REZ_SZ values with the name OPEN. Now start Excel again.
7. If Excel starts normally then the culprit was one of these Excel Add-ins. And to determine which one it was, just go rename the REZ_SZ values back to OPEN one by one. And restart Excel each time.
8. This will give you an idea of which Excel Add-in was the culprit here.
But what if doing even this did not help your Excel not responding issue and your Excel is still crashing? Well, then you got to move on to the Resetting your Startup folder section.
Resetting Your Startup folder
By default Excel starts by opening workbooks from the XLStart folder or any manual startup folders set by you. To check if one of these workbooks is causing the Excel not responding problem, you may want to start Excel without opening any workbooks at start-up. Or you may want to start Excel from a custom start-up folder to check what is causing the problem.
Here we will show you both.
Start Excel Without Opening Any Workbook
As we said before Excel opens any workbooks stored in the XLStart folder at start-up. If you are facing Excel not responding issue it might be because excel is trying to open a file from the XLStart location.
If this is the case, it can be fixed by moving files out of this folder. So, we’re gonna help you do that. Just follow this process:
1. In Excel, click on File and go to Options.
2. Click on Trust Center and click on the Trust center settings. The Trust Center option will look like this:
3. After clicking the Trust Center settings in the new pop-up menu click on the Trusted Locations option and notice the XLStart folder option in the list.
4. Now go to that location in your File Explorer and move all the workbooks out of that folder to another location.
Now when you open Excel it will not open any workbooks and it should resolve your Excel not responding issue.
But if you are still having the Excel not responding issue then the issue lies elsewhere and you should check if starting excel form an alternate folder helps or not.
Starting Excel From An Alternative Folder
If the previous solutions did not solve your problem, you may try to open any workbook from an alternative start-up folder. This will allow Excel to open that workbook from your desired location.
To do this, follow these steps:
1. In Excel, go to File, then Options, and then Advanced.
2. Scroll down until you see the General option. And from At Startup, open all files box, notice the startup folder location.
3. Now, similar to what you have done with the previous option, move all the files away from this location to another to reset your custom start-up folder.
4. Then, you can just move one by one workbook to this location to find out which of the files were causing the Excel not responding problems.
You will notice that our box is empty. This is because we did not have custom start-up folders set up. By default, this should be your common setting if you have not set up any custom start-up folders.
Installing the Latest Updates
If you have come this far into the guide and still have the Excel not responding problem, then you might want to check external problems that may be causing the excel not responding problem. The first of these would be to install the latest updates for Windows and Excel.
To Update Windows
Windows should just automatically update your system based on the network settings. If you want you may also want to check manual updates for your Windows and download recommended updates to see if any of the updates fixes the issue.
To Update Excel itself
If a Windows update does not fix your Excel not responding issue, you can also try and see if Excel is out of date. To update Excel, just open up Excel, click on File, and go to Account.
As you can see in the photo, this will present you with an option to update Office. Now just click on Update Now. This should update Excel.
This should hopefully fix Excel not responding issue for you. But if even all these fixes have not solved your Excel not responding issue, you should look into situations where other apps are conflicting with your Excel.
Excel in Use by Another App
If you have worked with Excel for a while, you’ll know that at the very bottom of your Excel workbook, there is a status bar. Excel will show you important information here that may help with troubleshooting and solving the Excel not responding issue.
Often times Excel may be used by another app or a process. In these cases, Excel may crash or hang or become unresponsive if you click on Excel because the previous process is not finished working with your file.
If this is the case, then excel will show you what process is using your workbook at the time in the status bar. If you see any processes using your workbook in the status bar just wait till the process has finished processing your workbook and hopefully the excel not responding issue will be resolved.
But if this is not the case just move on to the next section to check if your antivirus is causing any problems with Excel.
Check if Your Antivirus Software Is Causing Problems
Your Excel may not be working because of your Antivirus program. We recommend using Microsoft Defender for your day-to-day antivirus and security needs. But if for some reason you need to use a third-party antivirus program, that may cause issues with programs or files used by Excel.
To ensure your third-party antivirus software is not causing issues with Excel files, first, ensure that your Antivirus is up to date. Just go to your Antivirus settings and make sure the software is up to date.
If your antivirus is up to date, even then it may conflict with an excel file. In most cases, an Antivirus software may falsely recognize your Excel file as a virus and may not let you open the file. This may happen if your excel file is coming from a third-party app or system.
There may also be Antivirus software add-ins in your excels. So try and disable all these add-ins and the antivirus itself temporarily and check if your Excel opens normally. If it does, then just add the excel file to the exception list in your antivirus software. This will solve any problems your antivirus may be having with Excel.
Repair Office Programs
Finally, if all of the solutions above fail and you are still facing the Excel not responding issue, then you should use the Repair Office solution. This will repair any corrupted files your Excel application may have and should open your Excel files without any hassle.
To repair your Excel application, just follow this process.
1. Click on start and search for Apps and Features and click on Microsoft Office.
2. Choose Modify.
3. This will present you with a pop-up like this
4. Just select quick repair and click on Repair
Your Excel not responding problems should be fixed after your office programs have been successfully repaired.
Uninstall and Reinstall
This is an “All Hell Breaks Loose” scenario and you should do this if only all of the above fixes have not fixed your Excel not responding. If that is the case, go ahead and uninstall your office from the Apss and Features list.
Then do a clean reinstallation of Office or Microsoft 365 with an installer from Microsoft’s official website. This will solve your Excel not responding issue and you can start with a clean slate. Don’t worry. This will not affect your files. So you won’t lose any data.
To Wrap Up
In this guide we have walked you through all the possible reasons for your Excel not responding problem. We also talked about all the possible solutions if you were to face such issues with your Excel files.
The most common reason behind this problem is files generated by third-party apps and files imported from third-party systems. Your antivirus software may also give a false positive signal and stop Excel from accessing your file.
We hope we have helped you with this guide to fix your Excel not responding issue. Just go through all the processes carefully to avoid any further Excel not responding problems with your files.