How to troubleshoot crashing and not responding issues with Excel


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When you open or use Microsoft Excel, Excel stops responding, hangs, freezes, or stops working. Additionally, you may receive one of the following error messages:

Excel is not responding.

Excel has stopped working.

A problem caused the program to stop working correctly. Windows will close the program and notify you if a solution is available.


Use the following methods in the order in which they are presented. If you try one of these methods and it does not help, go to the next method.

Method 1: Start Excel in safe mode

Safe mode lets you safely use Excel without encountering certain startup programs. You can open Excel in safe mode by pressing and holding Ctrl while you start the program or by using the "/safe" option (that is, excel.exe /safe) when you start the program from the command line. When you run Excel in safe mode, it bypasses functionality and settings such as alternative startup location, changed toolbars, the xlstart folder, and Excel add-ins. (However, COM add-ins are excluded.)

If your issue is resolved after you run Excel in safe mode, see the following articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

291288 Description of the startup switches for Excel

280504 How to troubleshoot startup problems in Excel 2013

If your issue is not resolved after you start Excel in safe mode, go to method 2.

Method 2: Investigate possible issues with COM add-ins Many developers create add-ins for Excel. These add-ins are divided into two types

  • Excel add-ins that are saved as .xla, .xlam, or .xll files.
  • COM add-ins. These add-ins usually have to be installed and include DLLs and registry keys. COM add-ins created for one version of Excel frequently are incompatible with a newer version, and may cause the system to stop responding. They are not disabled by safe mode.

The simplest way to resolve this possible cause is to run this troubleshooter

If the troubleshooter resolves the issue, but it recurs, you'll have to determine which add-in is causing the problem. To disable COM add-ins, follow these steps:

  1. Select File > Options > Add-ins.
  2. At the bottom of the dialog box, change the Manage dropdown to COM add-ins, and select Go.
  3. Clear the check box for any enabled COM add-ins. select OK. If disabling the COM add-ins alleviates the issue, try enabling them one at a time to test for the problem add-in.

If these steps do not resolve your issue, continue to method 3.

Method 3: 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 areas 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 size 0 height and width objects.
  • Too many styles caused by frequent copying and pasting between workbooks.
  • Too many (as well as invalidly defined) names.

Inspect and simplify your files if possible.

If these steps do not resolve your issue, continue to method 4.

Method 4: 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 correctly 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, 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, go to method 5.

Method 5: Perform a selective startup to determine whether a program, process, or service conflicts with Excel

When you start Windows as usual, several applications and services start automatically and then run in the background. These applications and services can interfere with other software on your device. Performing a selective startup (also known as a "clean boot") can help you identify problems with conflicting applications. To perform a selective startup, see How to perform a clean boot in Windows.

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

If your issue is not resolved after a clean boot, go to method 6.

Method 6: Check whether your antivirus software is up to date or is conflicting with Excel

Antivirus software can interfere with Excel, and cause performance issues. Frequently updating your AV software can correct the issue.

How to 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 software vendors, see the following Microsoft website:

Consumer antivirus software providers for Windows

How to check whether 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 by creating exceptions for Excel files.


Changing your antivirus settings may make your PC vulnerable to viral, fraudulent, or malicious attacks. We do not recommend that you try 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 software to exclude any integration with Excel.

If updating your antivirus software or excluding it from integrating with Excel does not resolve your issue, go to method 7.Method 7: Verify or install the latest Windows and Office updates

Windows updates

You might have to set Windows Update to automatically download and install recommended updates. Installing any important, recommended, and optional updates can frequently correct problems by replacing out-of-date files and fixing vulnerabilities. To install the latest Windows updates, see Microsoft Windows FAQ.

Office updates

For more information about the latest Office updates, see Office Updates.

If your issue is not resolved after you install the latest Windows and Office updates, continue to the advanced troubleshooting in the More Information section.

More information

Advanced troubleshooting

If the methods that were mentioned earlier did not resolve your issue, the issue might be either environmental or file-specific in nature. The following section describes how to troubleshoot additional issues that can cause Excel to stop responding.

Environmental factors

Environmental factors are just as important as file contents and add-ins when you are troubleshooting problems. You can help us 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 troubleshooting tips that might help diagnose the problem.

Where the file is stored

Several issues can arise when you save an Excel file over a network or to a web server.Moving the file locally will help determine whether there's something wrong with the file or the server where the file is saved. Save the file to your local hard drive is one of the following scenarios is true:

  • You have redirected "My Documents" folder to a server location.

  • Your files are stored offline.

  • You are trying to open files from SharePoint or a Web folder.

  • You are using Remote Desktop or Citrix.

  • You are using network appliances.

  • You work in a virtualized environment. For more information about Microsoft software that's running in a virtualized environment, see the following Microsoft Knowledge Base article:

    897615 Support policy for Microsoft software running in non-Microsoft hardware virtualization software


Excel files can grow fairly large when you add text formatting and shapes. Make sure that your system has enough RAM to run the application. For system requirements of the Microsoft Office suites, see the following Microsoft Knowledge Base article:

System requirements for Office

Printers and video drivers

When Excel is started, it examines the default printer and video drivers that will display the Excel workbooks. Excel is printer-intensive. Therefore, it will run even slower when Excel files are saved in Page Break Preview view. Testing the 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, contact Microsoft Support for guided troubleshooting.