Excel not responding, hangs, freezes or stops working

This article discusses troubleshooting steps that can help resolve the most common issues when you receive an Excel not responding error, Excel hangs or freezes when you launch it, or open an Excel workbook. These types of problems may occur for one or more of the reasons listed below.

Follow the solutions provided in this article in order. If you have previously tried one of these methods, and it did not help, please go to the next solution in the list.

Note: If you are having problems opening your Excel files after upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 10, see Errors opening Office files after upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 10.

Safe mode troubleshooting

When you run Excel in safe mode, it bypasses functionality and settings such as alternative startup location, changed toolbars, startup folders used by Excel, Excel add-ins, and most COM add-ins. While add-ins can enhance your experience, they can occasionally interfere, or conflict with Excel.

You can safe mode troubleshoot in one of two ways:

  • Use the Microsoft Support and Recovery Assistant to automate safe mode troubleshooting

  • Manually perform safe mode troubleshooting yourself

Automate safe mode troubleshooting

The Microsoft Support and Recovery Assistant fully automates the safe mode isolation process to let you know if the problem is due to add-ins, files in startup folders, or toolbar settings.

Important: 

  • The Assistant will, in most cases, modify the registry and move files from startup folders used by Excel. Before you run the Assistant, make sure that you back up the registry and all files in startup folders used by Excel so that you can restore the registry and backed-up files if a problem occurs.

  • For more information about how to back up and restore the registry, see How to back up and restore the registry in Windows.

  • For more information on startup folders used by Excel, see Customize how Excel starts.

Download and run the Assistant

If you use the Assistant and it doesn't resolve your issue, continue with the steps in the Install the latest updates section of this article.

The Excel Crash Troubleshooter scenario automates safe mode troubleshooting which includes the following:

  • Starting Excel in safe mode

  • Disabling COM add-ins

  • Disabling Excel add-ins

  • Moving files from startup folders used by Excel

  • Renaming custom toolbar files (.xlb)

Depending on what’s found by the scenario on your device, some of these troubleshooting steps may require you to manually reset your add-in configuration and move files back into startup folders. Please use the following information, as needed, to determine changes that may have been made by the scenario.

COM add-ins and Excel add-ins

If the scenario disables COM add-ins or Excel add-ins:

  • The \Addin folder is renamed to \AddinsRenamedBySaRA under the following registry keys:

    • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office\Excel

    • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office\ClickToRun\REGISTRY\MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Office\Excel

    • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\WOW6432Node\Microsoft\Office\ClickToRun\REGISTRY\MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Office\Excel

    • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office\Excel

    • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWAR\WOW6432Node\Microsoft\Office\Excel\

Note: You may not find \Addins or \AddinsRenamedBySaRA in your registry under the above keys. This is just a comprehensive list of what may be found in the registry.

  • Any REG_SZ value that is either “OPEN” or  begins with “OPEN” (e.g. OPEN1) has “RenamedBySaRA” prepended to the name. For example, “OPEN” is renamed to “RenamedBySaRAOPEN”

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Excel\Options

  • A folder called ExcelAddinRegistryDataBySaRA is created on your Windows Desktop.

  • A file called AddinRegistryDataExportedBySaRA.reg is created in the ExcelAddinRegistryDataBySaRA folder.

    The AddinRegistryDataExportedBySaRA.reg file contains a backup copy of the above registry keys as they existed prior to running the scenario.

Files in startup folders

If the scenario moves files from startup folders used by Excel:

  • Files found in the following folders are moved out of these folders:

    • 64-bit Office C2R: C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\root\Office1x\XLSTART

    • 32-bit Office C2R: C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\root\Office1x\XLSTART

    • 64-bit Office MSI: C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office1x\XLSTART

    • 32-bit Office MSI: C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office1x\XLSTART

    • C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Excel\XLSTART

    • C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office 15\root\Office 15\XLSTART

Note: You may not have the above folders. This is just a comprehensive list of what may be found by the scenario.

  • Files found in the folder specified by the following registry data:

    • Key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\1x.0\Excel\Options

      Note: In this subkey, 1x.0 represents the program version number. 16.0 will appear for versions of Excel 2016 and higher while 15.0 will appear for Excel 2013.

    • Name: AltStartup

    • Type: REG_EXPAND_SZ

    • Data: Folder path

      Note: You may not have the above registry data. This is just a comprehensive list of what may be found by the scenario.

  • The files moved out of the above folders are moved into a folder called ExcelStartupFilesFoundBySaRA that's created on your Windows Desktop.

  • A file called ExcelStartupFolderFiles.log is created in the ExcelStartupFilesCopiedBySaRA folder.
    The ExcelStartupFolderFiles.log file contains a list of all the files that were moved and their original file location.

Custom toolbar files (.xlb)

If the scenario finds a custom toolbar file:

  • Files with a .xlb extension that are in the following folder are renamed to include a .renamed file extension:
    %AppData%\Microsoft\Excel

Manually perform safe mode troubleshooting

If you didn't use the Assistant, manually open Excel in safe mode. Do one of the following:

  • If you are on Windows 11 or Windows 10, choose Start > All apps > Windows System > Run. Type Excel /safe in the Run box, and then click OK.

  • If you are on Windows 8 or Windows 8.1, click Run in the Apps menu, type Excel /safe in the Run box, and then click OK.

If Excel starts in safe mode, continue with the steps in the COM Add-ins section of this article.

If Excel does not start in safe mode, continue with the Install the latest updates section of this article.

COM add-ins

Use the following steps to determine if a COM add-in is causing the problem:

  1. Click File > Options > Add-ins.

  2. Select COM Add-ins, and click Go.

  3. Clear all the check boxes in the list, and click OK.

  4. Close and restart Excel in normal mode (not in safe mode).

If the issue does not occur when you restart Excel in normal mode, start enabling your add-ins one at a time until it does. This will allow you to figure out which add-in is causing the problem. Be sure to restart Excel each time you enable an add-in.

If disabling COM add-ins did not resolve your issue, see if the issue is due to an Excel add-in.

Excel add-ins

Important: 

  • Follow the steps in this section carefully. Serious problems may occur if you modify the registry incorrectly. Make sure to back up the registry before you modify it. Make sure that you know how to restore the registry if a problem occurs.

  • For more information about how to back up and restore the registry, see How to back up and restore the registry in Windows..

  1. Start Registry editor. To do this, press the Windows key + R to open a Run dialog box. Type regedit.exe and then press OK.

  2. Locate and then select the following registry key:
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\<1x.0>\Excel\Options

    Note: In this subkey, <1x.0> represents the program version number. 16.0 will appear for versions Excel 2016 and higher while 15.0 will appear for Excel 2013.

  3. In the Name column, look for any REG_SZ value equal to OPEN.
    If you don't find a REG_SZ value whose name is OPEN, continue with the Investigate possible issues with files in Startup folders section.

  4. Right-click OPEN, and then select Rename.

  5. Rename OPEN to RenamedOPEN, and press Enter.

  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 by adding "Renamed" to the beginning of any REG_SZ value that starts with OPEN. For example, rename OPEN1 to RenamedOPEN1.

  7. Start Excel in normal mode.

  8. If the issue does not occur when you restart Excel in normal mode, start re-enabling your Excel add-ins one-by-one by removing "Renamed" from the name. You'll be able to identify the add-in that's causing the problem. Remember to restart Excel each time you re-enable an add-in in the registry.

If disabling COM add-ins and Excel add-ins did not resolve your issue, continue to the Investigate possible issues with files in Startup folders section.

Investigate possible issues with files in Startup folders

When you start Excel, it opens any workbooks found in the XLStart folder, or an alternate startup folder in addition to the XLStart folder. Try starting Excel without opening workbooks in the XLStart folder or alternate startup folder.

Workbooks in the XLStart folder

Any workbook, template, or workspace file that you place in the XLStart folder is automatically opened when you start Excel. You can move files out of this folder and open Excel to test and identify if a specific workbook is causing the problem. To find the path of the XLStart folder and move workbooks out of it, do the following:

  1. Click File > Options.

  2. Click Trust Center, and then under Microsoft Office Excel Trust Center, click Trust Center Settings.

  3. Click Trusted Locations, and then note the path to the XLStart folder in the list of trusted locations.

  4. Move any files found in this folder to another folder location, and then start Excel in normal mode.

If the issue doesn't occur when you restart Excel in normal mode, start moving workbooks you moved in step 4 one by one back into the XLStart folder, restarting Excel in normal mode each time. If there's a problem with one of the workbooks in the XLStart folder, this should identify the workbook.

If moving workbooks out of the XLStart folder did not resolve your issue, check workbooks in an alternate startup folder.

Workbooks in an alternate startup folder

Any workbook, template, or workspace file that you place in an alternate startup folder is automatically opened when you start Excel. Because Excel will try to open every file in the alternate startup folder, make sure that only files that Excel can open are in this folder.

Try starting Excel without opening workbooks in this folder:

  1. Click File > Options > Advanced.

  2. Under General, in the At Startup, open all files in box, note the path of the folder configured as the alternate startup folder.

  3. Move any files found in this folder to another folder location, and then start Excel in normal mode.

  4. If the issue does not occur, start moving any workbook you moved in step 3 back into the alternate startup folder one-by-one, restarting Excel in normal mode each time. You'll be able to identify the workbook that's causing the problem.

If moving files out of the XLStart and alternate startup folder did not resolve your issue, continue to the next section.

Install the latest updates

You might need to set Windows Update to automatically download and install recommended updates. Installing any important recommendation, and optimal updates can often correct problems by replacing out-of-date files and fixing vulnerabilities. To install the latest Office updates, follow the steps in this article: Update Office and your computer.

If installing the latest Office updates did not resolve your issue, continue on to the next item on this list.

Check to make sure Excel is not in use by another process

If Excel is in use by another process, this information will be displayed in the status bar at the bottom of the Excel window. If you try to perform other actions while Excel is in use, Excel may not respond. Let the task in process finish its job before attempting other actions.

If Excel is not in use by another process, continue on to the next item on the list.

Investigate Excel file details and contents

Excel files can exist on the computer for a long time. They are upgraded from version to version, and frequently travel from one user to another user. Frequently, a user inherits an Excel file but doesn't know what is included in the file. The following things can cause performance or crashing issues:

  • Formulas referencing entire columns.

  • Array formulas referencing an uneven number of elements in the arguments.

  • Hundreds, or perhaps thousands of hidden or 0 height and width objects.

  • Excessive styles caused by frequent copying and pasting between workbook.

  • Excessive, and invalid defined names.

If these steps do not resolve your issue, continue on to the next item on the list.

Check whether your file is being generated by a third party

Sometimes Excel files are generated by a third-party application. In this case, the files may be generated incorrectly, and some features may not work properly when you open the files in Excel. If this occurs, test the features in new files outside the third-party application. If the features work correctly, you should make sure that the third party is aware of the issue.

If your issue is not resolved after you test it outside the third-party application, continue on to the next item on the list.

Perform a selective startup to determine whether a program, process, or service conflicts with Excel

When you start Windows, several applications and services start automatically, and then run in the background. These applications and services can interfere with other software on your PC. Performing a selective startup (also known as a "clean boot") can help you identify problems with conflicting applications. To perform a selective startup, choose one of the following links depending on your version of Windows, then follow the steps in the article:

Windows 10, Windows 7, Windows 8: Run Selective Startup using System Configuration
Windows Vista: Run Selective Startup using System Configuration
Windows XP: How to create and configure user accounts in Windows XP

Selective startup is used to help identify the offending process, service, or application that conflicts with Excel.

If your issue is not resolved after you re-create the profile, continue on to the next item on the list.

Repair your Office programs

Repairing your Office programs can resolve issues with Excel not responding, hanging or freezing by automatically repairing errors in Office files. For instructions on doing this, see: Repair an Office application.

If repairing your Office programs did not resolve your issue, continue on to the next item on the list.

Check to see if your antivirus software is up-to-date or conflicting with Excel

If your antivirus software is not up-to-date, Excel may not function properly.

Check whether your antivirus software is up-to-date:

To keep up with new viruses that are created, antivirus software vendors periodically provide updates that you can download from the Internet. Download the latest updates by visiting your antivirus software vendor’s website.

For a list of antivirus vendors, see: Consumer security software providers.

Check whether your antivirus software is conflicting with Excel:

If your antivirus software includes integration with Excel you may experience performance issues. In this case, you can disable all Excel integration within the antivirus software. Or, you can disable any antivirus software add-ins that are installed in Excel.

Important: Changing your antivirus settings may make your PC vulnerable to viral, fraudulent or malicious attacks. Microsoft does not recommend that you attempt to change your antivirus settings. Use this workaround at your own risk.

You may have to contact your antivirus software vendor to determine how to configure your software to exclude any integration with Excel or to exclude scanning in Excel.

More Information

Advanced troubleshooting

If the methods that were mentioned earlier did not resolve your issue, the issue could be either file specific, or environmental. The following section describes how to troubleshoot additional issue that can cause Excel to hang, or crash. 

Environmental factors

Environmental factors are just as important as file contents, and add-ins when you are troubleshooting crashes. You can help determine the cause of your issue by taking the following actions:

  • Follow basic troubleshooting steps.

  • Test files in the cleanest possible environment.

The following sections describe some areas that are worth investigating.

Where the file is stored

Moving the file locally will help determine whether there is something wrong with the file, or with where the file is saved. Several issues can arise when you save an Excel file over a network or to a web server. It is a good idea to save the file locally. This should be done in the following scenarios:
 

• Redirected "My Documents" folder to server location

• Offline files

• Opening files from a Webfolder or SharePoint

• Remote Desktop/Citrix

• Network appliances

• Virtualized environment. For more information about Microsoft software that is running in a virtualized environment, see the following article: Support policy for Microsoft software running in non-Microsoft hardware virtualization software.

Memory

Excel files can grow fairly large when you start adding lots of formatting and shapes. Make sure that your system has enough RAM to run the application. For system requirements of the Microsoft Office suites, go to the following Microsoft articles: 

System requirements for Office 2016

System requirements for Office 2013

System requirements for Office 2010

System requirements for Excel 2007


Office 2010 introduced native 64-bit versions of Office products to take advantage of larger processing capacities. To read more about 64-bit editions of Office, go to the following Microsoft articles:
 

64-bit editions of Office 2013

Understanding 64-bit Office

Printers and video drivers

When you start Excel, it examines the default printer and video drivers that will display your Excel workbooks. Excel is printer-intensive, and it will run slower when Excel files are saved in Page Break Preview view. Testing a file by using different printers such as the Microsoft XPS Document Writer printer driver, or the VGA video driver will determine whether the problem is with a specific printer or video driver. 

If you still have hanging or crashing issues in Excel after you work through the resolution methods that are mentioned here, you should contact Microsoft Support for guided troubleshooting. 

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