Excel Keeps Crashing on Windows - How to Fix It

Experiencing Excel crashes on Windows? Learn how to fix the issue and prevent further crashes with our troubleshooting guide.
Fix Excel Keeps Crashing on Windows

This article will provide effective troubleshooting steps to resolve common Excel issues like "Excel not responding," hanging, or freezing when launching the application or opening a workbook. Whether you're experiencing crashes with any file or encountering problems with a specific file, we have solutions for both scenarios.

Microsoft Excel is a widely used spreadsheet program, but occasional crashes can disrupt productivity. Instead of seeking alternative software, we will guide you on quickly fixing Excel crashes on Windows. Let's dive into the solutions and get your Excel running smoothly again.

Table of Contents

  1. Safe mode troubleshooting
  2. Manually perform safe mode troubleshooting
  3. Investigate possible issues with files in Startup folders
  4. Try These Other Solutions
  5. Additional Fixes and Troubleshooting
  6. Resolving Excel Conflicts: Antivirus and Environmental Factors
  7. FAQs
  8. Final Thoughts

Safe Mode Troubleshooting

Safe mode troubleshooting is a useful method to identify and resolve issues in Excel. When Excel is launched in safe mode, it bypasses certain settings, add-ins, and startup folders that may be causing conflicts or interference. This can help pinpoint the root cause of the problem.

There are two ways to perform safe mode troubleshooting: automated using the Microsoft Support and Recovery Assistant, or manual troubleshooting.

  1. Automated safe mode troubleshooting: The Microsoft Support and Recovery Assistant is a tool provided by Microsoft that automates the process of isolating issues related to add-ins, startup folders, and toolbar settings. It will modify the registry and move files from startup folders used by Excel. Therefore, it's essential to back up the registry and files in the startup folders before running the Assistant to ensure you can restore them if needed.
  2. Manual safe mode troubleshooting: If you prefer to perform troubleshooting yourself, you can manually disable add-ins, change toolbar settings, and examine the files in startup folders to identify potential conflicts. This can be done by accessing Excel's options and making the necessary adjustments.

Manually Perform Safe Mode Troubleshooting

To manually perform safe mode troubleshooting in Excel, follow these steps:

  1. Open Excel in safe mode:
    • For Windows 11 or Windows 10: Go to Start > All apps > Windows System > Run. Type "Excel /safe" in the Run box and click OK.

    • For Windows 8 or 8.1: Click Run in the Apps menu, type "Excel /safe" in the Run box, and click OK.
    • If Excel starts in safe mode, proceed to the COM Add-ins section. If not, continue to the Install the latest updates section.
  2. Troubleshoot COM add-ins:
    • Click on File > Options > Add-ins.
    • Select COM Add-ins and click Go.

    • Clear all the checkboxes in the list and click OK.

    • Close Excel and restart it in normal mode (not safe mode).
    • If the issue doesn't occur in normal mode, start enabling your add-ins individually, restarting Excel each time to identify the problematic one.
  3. Troubleshoot Excel add-ins:
    • Open the Registry Editor by pressing the Windows key + R, typing "regedit.exe," and clicking OK.

    • Navigate to the following registry key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office<1x.0>\Excel\Options (where <1x.0> represents the version number).

    • Look for any REG_SZ value named "OPEN" in the Name column.
    • Right-click on "OPEN" and select Rename. Add "Renamed" to the beginning of the value's name.
    • Repeat this process for any other REG_SZ values starting with "OPEN."
    • Start Excel in normal mode.
    • If the issue doesn't occur in normal mode, re-enable your Excel add-ins one by one by removing "Renamed" from their names, and restarting Excel each time, to identify the problematic add-in.

If disabling COM add-ins and Excel add-ins doesn't resolve the issue, you can proceed to investigate possible issues with files in Startup folders. It's crucial to follow these steps carefully and back up the registry before making any modifications.

Investigate Possible Issues With Files in Startup Folders

To investigate possible issues with files in Startup folders in Excel, follow these steps:

  1. Workbooks in the XLStart folder:
    • Click on File > Options.
    • Click on Trust Center and then select Trust Center Settings.

    • Go to Trusted Locations and note the path of the XLStart folder.

    • Move any files found in the XLStart folder to a different location.
    • Start Excel in normal mode.
    • If the issue is resolved, start moving the workbooks back into the XLStart folder one by one, restarting Excel each time, until you identify the problematic workbook.
  2. Workbooks in an alternate startup folder:
    • Click on File > Options > Advanced.
    • Under General, note the path of the folder configured as the alternate startup folder.

    • Move any files found in the alternate startup folder to a different location.
    • Start Excel in normal mode.
    • If the issue is resolved, move the workbooks back into the alternate startup folder one by one, restarting Excel each time, until you identify the problematic workbook.

Moving files out of the XLStart and alternate startup folders allows you to determine if a specific workbook is causing the problem. Restarting Excel in normal mode after each step helps isolate the workbook that may be causing conflicts or issues.

Try These Other Solutions

  1. Install the latest updates:
    • Set Windows Update to automatically download and install recommended updates.
    • Install any important and recommended updates to replace outdated files and fix vulnerabilities.
  2. Check if Excel is in use by another process:
    • Look at the status bar at the bottom of the Excel window.
    • If another process uses Excel, wait for the current task to finish before attempting other actions.
  3. Investigate Excel file details and contents:
    • Formulas referencing entire columns.
    • Array formulas with uneven elements.
    • Hidden or objects with zero height and width.
    • Excessive styles from frequent copying and pasting.
    • Excessive and invalid defined names.
    • Long-existing Excel files may have accumulated issues over time.
    • Check for the following potential problems in the file:

If the above steps don't resolve the crashing issue, proceed to the next item on the list for further troubleshooting.

Additional Fixes and Troubleshooting

Check if a third-party application is generating your Excel file. Third-party applications may generate files incorrectly, causing issues when opening them in Excel. Test the features in new files outside the third-party application to see if they work correctly. If they do, inform the third party about the problem.

Perform a selective startup to identify conflicts with Excel caused by other programs, processes, or services that start automatically when Windows boots up. By performing a selective startup, you can pinpoint any conflicting applications. Follow the steps in the provided articles based on your Windows version to perform a selective startup.

If the issue persists after performing a selective startup, repair your Office programs. Repairing Office can automatically fix errors in Office files and resolve issues with Excel not responding, hanging, or freezing. Refer to the article "Repair an Office application" for instructions on repairing your Office programs.

If none of the above steps resolve the problem, proceed to the next item on the list for further troubleshooting.

Resolving Excel Conflicts: Antivirus and Environmental Factors

         Antivirus software:

  • Ensure that your antivirus software is up-to-date by downloading the latest updates from your vendor's website.
  • Check if your antivirus software is conflicting with Excel. Disable Excel integration within the antivirus software or any antivirus software add-ins installed in Excel. Contact your antivirus software vendor for guidance on configuring the software to exclude integration with Excel or scanning in Excel.

    Environmental factors:
  • Consider environmental factors as they can contribute to crashes.
  • Troubleshoot by following basic troubleshooting steps and testing files in a clean environment.
  • Check where the file is stored. Save the file locally to determine if the issue lies with the file or its storage location (e.g., network, web server).
  • Ensure your system has sufficient RAM to run Excel effectively.
  • Check printers and video drivers. Test different printers or use alternative drivers (e.g., Microsoft XPS Document Writer, VGA) to identify any issues specific to a printer or video driver.

If the above steps do not resolve the issue, consider contacting Microsoft Support for further assistance.

Note: Changing antivirus settings can pose security risks, so use caution and consult with your antivirus software vendor if needed.


How do I stop Excel from crashing with too much data?

To prevent Excel from crashing with excessive data, try breaking the data into smaller chunks or using features like filtering or pivot tables to manage and analyze the data more efficiently.

How do I clear the cache in Excel?

To clear the cache in Excel, go to the File tab, click on Options, select the Advanced tab, scroll down to the "General" section, and click on the "Clear" button under the "File Cache" option.

What to do when Excel freezes?

When Excel freezes, you can try pressing the Esc key to interrupt any ongoing calculations, save your work, and then restart Excel. If the issue persists, you may need to troubleshoot further by disabling add-ins, repairing Office installation, or updating Excel.

How do I repair Excel in Windows 10?

To repair Excel in Windows 10, open the Control Panel, go to "Programs" or "Programs and Features," locate Microsoft Office in the list, click on it, and choose the "Change" or "Repair" option. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the repair process.

How do I unfreeze Excel with the keyboard?

To unfreeze Excel using the keyboard, press the Ctrl + Alt + Del keys together to open the Task Manager, select the frozen Excel application from the list, and click on the "End Task" button. This will close the frozen Excel instance and allow you to reopen it.

Final Thoughts

Experiencing frequent crashes in Excel can be frustrating, but there are several troubleshooting steps you can take to resolve the issue. First, ensure your antivirus software is up-to-date and check for any conflicts with Excel integration. 

Additionally, consider environmental factors such as file storage location, available memory, and printer/video drivers. It's important to test files in a clean environment and make necessary adjustments to address these factors. 

If the problem persists, contacting Microsoft Support can provide further guidance and assistance. Keep your software and operating system up-to-date to minimize compatibility issues and improve stability.

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