"Microsoft Excel has encountered a problem and needs to close" when starting Excel for Mac

Note

Office 365 ProPlus is being renamed to Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise. For more information about this change, read this blog post.

Symptoms

When you try to start Microsoft Excel for Mac, you receive the following error message:

Microsoft Excel has encountered a problem and needs to close. We are sorry for the inconvenience.

Cause

This error may occur if one of the following conditions is true: 

  • The Excel preferences are corrupted.
  • Programs that are running in the background are interfering with Excel for Mac.
  • Application files are corrupted.
  • A user account profile is corrupted.

Resolution

To resolve this issue, try the following methods, in order, until the issue is resolved.

Method 1

Step 1: Quit all programs

You must quit all programs before you continue. To quit an application, select the application on the toolbar (top), and then select Quit. If you cannot quit an application or do not know how, hold down the Command and Option keys, and then press Esc on your keyboard. Select the application in the "Force Quit Application" window, and then select Force Quit. Click Force Quit to quit the application.

Note

You cannot quit Finder.

When you are finished, click the red button in the upper-left corner and go to step 2.

Step 2: Remove your Excel preferences

  1. Quit all Microsoft Office for Mac applications.

  2. On the Go menu, click Home.

  3. Open Library. Note The Library folder is hidden in Mac OS X Lion. To display this folder, hold down the OPTION key while you click the Go menu.

  4. Open Preferences.

  5. Drag com.microsoft.Excel.plist to the desktop. If you cannot locate the file, Excel is using the default preferences. Go to step 7.

  6. Open Excel, and check whether the problem still occurs. If the problem still occurs, quit Excel, restore the file to its original location, and go to the next step. If the problem is resolved, drag com.microsoft.Excel.plist to the Trash.

  7. Quit all Office for Mac applications.

  8. On the Go menu, click Home.

  9. Open Library.

    Note

    The Library folder is hidden in Mac OS X Lion. To display this folder, hold down the OPTION key while you click the Go menu.

  10. Open Preferences.

  11. Open Microsoft, and then drag com.microsoft.Excel.prefs.plist to the desktop. If you cannot locate the file, Excel is using the default preferences. Go to step 13.

  12. Open Excel, and check whether the problem still occurs. If the problem still occurs, quit Excel, restore the file to its original location, and go to Method 2. If the problem is resolved, drag com.microsoft.Excel,prefs.plist to the Trash.

Method 2

Use the "Repair Disk Permissions" option

You can use the Repair Disk Permissions option to troubleshoot permissions problems in Mac OS X 10.2 or later versions. To use the Repair Disk Permissions option, follow these steps:

  1. On the Go menu, click Utilities.
  2. Start the Disk Utility program.
  3. Click the primary hard disk drive for your computer.
  4. Click the First Aid tab.
  5. Click Repair Disk Permissions.

Note

The Disk Utility program only repairs software that is installed by Apple. This utility also repairs folders, such as the Applications folder. However, this utility does not repair software that is in your home folder.

Open Excel and check if the issue is resolved. If it is not, continue to Method 3.

Method 3

Create and use a new user account

To create a new user account, use the following procedure.

Note

You many have to reinstall Office if you log on with a new account.

  1. Click the Apple icon, and then click System Preferences.

    System Preferences in the Apple icon

  2. Click Accounts.

    Accounts button in System Preferences

  3. Click the plus sign ("+") in the lower-left corner to open the new account window.

    Note

    If you are not the Administrator of the computer, click Click the lock to make changes. Log on by using your Administrator user name and password, and then click OK.

    Clicking Plus sign in the lower-left corner

  4. Type the word Test for the user name, and leave the password box blank. Click Create Account. When you receive a warning, click OK.

    Type name to create account

  5. Click to select Allow User to Administer this computer. (If this option is not available, just go to the next step).

    Select the Allow User to Administer this computer option

  6. Click the Apple icon, and then click Log Out name.

    Log out in the Apple icon

  7. Log on with your Test account.

Open Excel and check if the issue is resolved. If you can save when you use a new user account, contact Apple support to troubleshoot your existing account. If you do not want to keep your existing account, you can rename the "Test" account that you create in the following procedure, and continue to use that account. If it is not, continue to Method 4.

Method 4

Remove and then reinstall Office

For information about how to remove and then reinstall Office, see the following article:

Troubleshoot Office 2011 for Mac issues by completely uninstalling before you reinstall

Third-party disclaimer information

The third-party products that this article discusses are manufactured by companies that are independent of Microsoft. Microsoft makes no warranty, implied or otherwise, about the performance or reliability of these products.

The information and the solution in this document represent the current view of Microsoft Corporation on these issues as of the date of publication. This solution is available through Microsoft or through a third-party provider. Microsoft does not specifically recommend any third-party provider or third-party solution that this article might describe. There might also be other third-party providers or third-party solutions that this article does not describe. Because Microsoft must respond to changing market conditions, this information should not be interpreted to be a commitment by Microsoft. Microsoft cannot guarantee or endorse the accuracy of any information or of any solution that is presented by Microsoft or by any mentioned third-party provider.