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SUMMARY

This article describes how to prevent files from automatically opening when you start Microsoft Excel.

When you start Excel, all the files that are located in the XLStart folder are automatically opened. This behavior occurs regardless of the type of file. Additionally, if you specified an alternative startup folder for Excel, every file in that folder is also automatically opened. To specify an alternative startup folder, in  Microsoft Office Excel 2003, click  Options on the Tools menu, and then click the General tab. In Microsoft Office Excel 2007, click the Microsoft Office Button, click Excel Options, click the Advanced tab, and then locate the General section. In Microsoft Office Excel 2010, click the File menu, click Options, click the Advanced tab, and then locate the General section.

This behavior may cause Excel to stop responding or this behavior may cause Excel to take a long time to start if either of the following conditions is true:  
  • The files in either startup folder are not valid Excel files.
  • The files are stored on a network drive that has a slow network connection

How to prevent files from automatically opening in Excel

Use one of the following methods to manually prevent files from automatically opening when you start Excel.

Remove files from the XLStart folder and from the alternative startup folders

To remove files from the XLStart folder and from the alternative startup folders, follow these steps:

1. Start Excel.

2. Follow the path to the options menu based on which version of Excel you are using. 
Excel 2003
On the Tools Menu, click Options, and then click the General tab. 
Excel 2007
Click the Microsoft Office Button, Click Excel Options, click the Advanced menu, locate the General section. 
Excel 2010
Click File, click Options, Click the Advanced menu, locate the General section.


Start Excel in safe mode

When you start Excel, any files that are located in the XLStart folders or the alternative startup folder start to open. To prevent the files in these locations from opening when you start Excel, you can start Excel in safe mode. Starting Excel in safe mode prevents all Excel add-ins, toolbar customizations, and startup folders from loading when Excel is started. You can use a command-line switch to start Excel in safe mode or you can use the CTRL key.

To start Excel in safe mode, hold down the CTRL key while you start Excel. You will receive the following message:
Excel has detected that you are holding down the CTRL key. Do you want to start Excel in Safe mode?
If you click Yes, Excel starts in safe mode.

You can then clear the alternative startup location as described earlier. In all versions of Excel, you can use a command-line switch to start Excel in safe mode. 

Use Command-line switches

If there are files in the XLStart folder or in the alternative startup folder that you do not want to open when Excel starts, and you do not want to move the files to a different folder, you can use command-line switches to prevent the files from opening. Both the /safe switch and the /automation switch can be used for this purpose.

Note The /safe switch starts Excel in safe mode. The /automation switch disables all automatically opened files and auto-run macros.

To use a command-line switch to start Excel, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, and then click Run.
  2. In the Open box, type either of the following lines:
    excel.exe /safe

    excel.exe /automation
  3. Click OK.
Note If Microsoft Windows Installer starts when you use one of these command-lines switches, click Cancel to finish starting Excel.

Press the ESCAPE key

When you start Excel, any files that are located in the XLStart folder or in the alternative startup folder start to open. You can press ESCAPE after the files start to open to prevent any additional files from opening. When you press ESCAPE, you may receive one or both of the following messages:
Would you like to cancel opening all files from your Alternate Startup File Location?

Would you like to cancel opening all files from your XLStart Location?
If you click Yes in either message, Excel starts without opening any additional files from the startup locations.

Note Do not hold the ESCAPE key. If you do this, the messages will be closed before you can click Yes.

REFERENCES

For more information about Excel startup folders, click the following article numbers to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

822107 How to use startup folders in Excel 2003
826837 Task pane disappears when you start Excel

Properties

Article ID: 826922 - Last Review: April 18, 2012 - Revision: 5.0
APPLIES TO
  • Microsoft Office Excel 2007
  • Microsoft Excel 2002 Standard Edition
Keywords: 
kbhowto kbexpertisebeginner kbopenfile KB826922

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