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How to troubleshoot startup problems in Excel



There are several reasons why you may experience problems when you start Microsoft Excel. This
article discusses how to troubleshoot the cause of the startup problem, and possible remedies to
correct the problem. The article also contains links to other Microsoft Knowledge Base articles that
discuss known startup problems in greater detail.

Note It is important to keep track of any new software installations or updates that you performed
just before you experienced the problem, because these may be directly involved. This information
is helpful if this article does not resolve your issue and you need to call Microsoft Technical

More Information

When you start Microsoft Excel, you may experience problems for any of the following reasons:

Corrupted shortcut to the Excel program

Problematic file in Excel startup folder or alternate startup file location
Corrupted Excel toolbar file (*.xlb) or Excel .pip file
Corrupted add-ins
Incorrect version of a core Microsoft Office file
Corruption in the registry keys
Other problems when opening Excel files

Note: Its a good idea to make sure your computer has the latest updates installed for Windows and
Office. Updates often fix problems that occur with software. Before using the repair steps below,
try installing updates, restarting your computer, and then launching Excel. You can use the Update
your computer article for more information about manuals updates and automatic updates.

If you receive an error message when you start Microsoft Excel, search the Microsoft Knowledge
Base for the exact error message at the following Microsoft Web site:
Advanced Search
If you do not receive an error message, or if you cannot find specific information in the Microsoft
Knowledge Base about the error message, use the following information to troubleshoot the Excel
startup problem.

First, consider the scope of the problem. Does the problem occur when you start Excel by clicking
a workbook file, or does it occur when you run Excel from the Start menu?

If the problem only occurs when you open an Excel file, refer to the "Other problems when opening
Excel files" section. Otherwise, proceed to the next section.
Method 1: Fix the shortcut to the Excel program

Method 2 Start Excel in Safe mode

Did this fix the problem?

If Microsoft Excel starts as expected when you use the /s switch, "Safe Mode" appears in the Excel
title bar. If Excel starts in Safe Mode, use a process of elimination to step through the following
areas that Excel bypasses in Safe mode, until the problem is corrected.
If Excel does not start in Safe Mode, proceed to Method 3.

Excel startup folder

One of the more common reasons you may experience problems when you start Excel is that Excel
is loading a problem file from one of its several different startup folders. Temporarily remove any
files from the startup folders, and try to start Excel.

1. Search the hard drive for xlstart folders. Move any files from these folders to a temporary
location and note where they came from.
2. Under File > Options > Advanced > General, look for a path under At startup, open all files
in. Temporarily remove any files from that location
3. Try to start Excel.

If Excel starts, replace the files one at a time to find the problem file.

Excel registry keys

Sometimes problems with the registry keys Excel reads for your user profile are corrupt, and cause
startup problems. These are not read when you start Excel in Safe Mode. To test to see if something
in your profile is the issue, Exit Excel and rename the user profile keys, for instance rename excel
to excel.old. When you start Excel again it will trigger a repair to set your settings to the default

Important This section, method, or task contains steps that tell you how to modify the registry.
However, serious problems might occur if you modify the registry incorrectly. Therefore, make
sure that you follow these steps carefully. For added protection, back up the registry before you
modify it. Then, you can restore the registry if a problem occurs. For more information about how
to back up and restore the registry, click the following article number to view the article in the
Microsoft Knowledge Base:
322756 How to back up and restore the registry in Windows
Note Removing the following registry keys may reset customized user settings for your Microsoft
Office programs.

Excel 2003


Excel 2002


Excel 2000

When you restart Excel, a repair operation is triggered to set the settings to the default settings.

Excel 2007

Excel 2010


If this procedure does not resolve the issue, you can restore the original settings. To do this, follow
these steps:

1. Exit Excel.
2. Delete the newly created Excel registry keys.
3. Rename the "Excel.old" keys "Excel."

Method 3: Investigate interference from other programs or services

If Excel still does not start as expected, a conflict with another program may exist. Use System
Configuration to start Windows using Selective Startup.

For information on starting system configuration, go to

us/windows/using-system-configuration, and choose your operating system in the dropdown.

If Excel starts in Selective Startup, you can enable drivers and startup programs one at a time to
find and eliminate the issue.

Other problems when opening Excel files

If Excel experiences problems only when you open specific Excel files, you must use a different
approach to troubleshoot the issue. You may need to do anything from disabling macros to
rebuilding the workbook.

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

820741 How to recover data from damaged workbooks in Excel 2002 and in Excel 2003

179871 Methods for recovering data from damaged Excel 2000 workbooks

213951 How to troubleshoot the source of the problem when you save files in Excel 2000 and they
become corrupted


Thanks to MVP Jan Karel Pieterse for contributing to the Fix it solutions contained in this article.

For additional information about 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

291218 How to use Excel startup folders in Excel 2002

240150 How to use the Excel startup folders in Excel 2000

For more information about Excel 2002 Safe Mode, click Microsoft Excel Help on the Help
menu, type about office safe mode in the Office Assistant or the Answer Wizard, and then click
Search to view the topics returned.