How to Resolve Microsoft Excel Not Responding Error

Roxanne updated on Feb 22, 2020 to File Recovery | How-to Articles


Are you facing the Excel not responding issue when you try to open, edit, or save a file? Don't worry. This page offers practical solutions to Excel not responding, hangs, crashes, freezes, or stops working. Besides, we will show you how to recover the unsaved Excel file caused by this problem.

Workable Solutions Step-by-step Troubleshooting
Fix 1. Install the Latest MS Office  Open Word or Excel. Go to "File" > "Account".Under Product Information, choose "Update Options"...Full steps
Fix 2. Open Excel in Safe mode  Type excel.exe /safe in the Run box to open the Excel in safe mode. Check if the software still crashes...Full steps
Fix 3. End Excel in process If you try to perform other actions when Excel is in use, it may not respond. End the task in the process...Full steps
Fix 4. Disable Add-ins  Opening Excel in safe mode, click "File" > "Options" > "Add-ins". Select "COM Add-ins", and click "Go"...Full steps
Fix 5. More effective fixes You can also fix the issue by checking antivirus/conflicts, repairing, uninstalling, reinstalling Office...Full steps

Microsoft Excel is the most used form tool by individuals or enterprises for calculation of profit/loss to finding averages, charting and graphing data. Important programs like Excel need to run smoothly to keep the data safe. However, the truth is that many users often experience errors when opening or saving Excel. You may receive one of the following error messages:

  • "Microsoft Excel is not responding"
  • "Microsoft 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."

Microsoft Excel is not responding

As you can see in the above screenshot, Microsoft offers you three solutions - restart the program, close the program or wait for the program to respond. Most users, especially those who didn't save their document will not try these methods to fix the "Excel is not responding" issue because they might run the risk of losing data. 

This article covers the most common methods to settle the matter when you receive an Excel not responding error, which may be caused by one or more of the reasons listed below. You can follow the solutions in order or selectively. Check both video and text tutorials to troubleshoot.

Why Is Microsoft Excel Not Responding

Reasons for Excel hanging, freezing, or not responding may be as follows.

  • Microsoft Office is not the latest update.
  • Excel may be in use by another process.
  • Conflict with a program, process, service, or installed add-ins in Excel.
  • Problems result from Excel file contents.
  • Antivirus software is outdated or conflicting with Excel.

How to Fix Excel Not Responding Problem

We try to provide comprehensive solutions to fix this matter. If you had tried one or a few of them before but failed, then choose those you haven't tried yet. These methods work with different Excel versions, including Excel 2010, 2013, 2016, even 2019. 

1. Install the Latest Microsoft Office

If you haven't upgraded to the latest Office and Windows Updates, the problem may occur. So, check and install the most recent versions. We highly recommend you turn on the option of automatically installing any updates for Windows. You can do this by going to the "Control Panel" > click "System and Maintenance" > select "Maintenance" to expand its options > turn on "Automatic Maintenance".

How to install Office updates:

  • Open any Office app, Word or Excel. Go to "File" > "Account".
  • Under Product Information, choose "Update Options" > "Update Now". You can also choose "Disable Updates", and "View Updates" here.

fix Excel not responding - update Microsoft Office

2. Open and Save Excel in Safe Mode

When you run Excel in safe mode, it bypasses functionality and settings such as alternative startup location, changed toolbars, and Excel add-ins. Now, try open and save Excel in safe mode when it is not responding.

You can open Excel in safe mode by pressing and holding Ctrl while you start the program, or by using the /safe switch (excel.exe /safe) in Command Prompt.

fix Excel not responding - safe mode

3. Make sure Excel Is Not in Use by Another Process

If you try to perform other actions when Excel is in use, it may not respond. End the task in the process before any other operation. If Excel is not used by another process, try the next method.

4. Disable Add-ins

Add-ins may occasionally interfere or conflict with Excel. You can try to fix the issue by disabling add-ins.

  • Enter safe mode by pressing and holding Ctrl while you start the program, or by using the /safe switch (excel.exe /safe) in Command Prompt.
  • Click "File" > "Options" > "Add-ins". Select "COM Add-ins", and click "Go".
  • Uncheck all the add-ins in the list, and click "OK". Then restart Excel.

fix Excel not responding - disable add-ins

If the Excel works normally, re-enable the add-ins one-by-one until the issue happens again. Thus, you may figure out which add-in is causing the problem.

5. Check for the Program Conflict

When you are working with the computer, you must have opened more than just Excel. So the Excel not responding problem may raise because of software conflicts. You can turn off other programs and see if you can solve the problem. 

6. Update or Close Anti-virus Software

The problem may be the conflict between Excel and the anti-virus software. So you can try to disable your anti-virus and see if the error has been resolved. Also, you can upgrade the anti-virus software to address the issue.

Note: Turning off your antivirus software may make your PC vulnerable to viral. Try this way carefully.

7. Repair Microsoft Office

Another useful fix for Excel is not responding is repairing Microsoft Office.

  • Go to the "Control panel" > choose "Programs and Features". Find Microsoft Office in the list, right-click it and click the "Change" button.
  • Then the repair window will pop-up. Choose "Quick Repair" and click the "Repair" button. When the process completes, check if the problem has been solved. If this does not work, retry the steps, but choose "Online Repair" instead. If the problem still exists, uninstall and reinstall Office.

fix Excel not responding - repair Microsoft

8. Uninstall and Reinstall Office

If none of the previous methods work, you may have to reinstall Microsoft Office. You can download it on Microsoft's official website.

How to Recover Unsaved Files When Excel Not Responding

If the problem has caused unsaved data loss, use the two methods below to recover unsaved Excel files.

Method 1. Use MS Office Application Recovery

Step 1. Navigate to the "Start" > "All Programs" > "Microsoft Office Tools" > "MS Office Application Recovery".

Step 2. Select the problematic Excel document that is showing not responding error.

Step 3. Click on the option "Recover Application" and restore the document.

Method 2. Use AutoRecovery

Step 1. Launch Microsoft Excel application, click "File" > "Recent". 

Step 2. Click "Recover Unsaved Workbooks" and choose the unsaved Excel.

Step 3. Click the "Open" button. Then click "Save As" and save this document into any other safe place.

recover unsaved work from Excel not responding

See More: How to Recover Deleted Excel Files 

Unlike the unsaved files that you can recover with the AutoRecovery feature, if you accidentally deleted or lost an Excel document on your computer, you need to turn to professional file recovery software for help. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard can restore lost Excel files from HDD/SSD, external hard drive, USB flash drive, pen drive, SD/CF card, and more. It specializes in emptied recycle bin recovery, formatted recovery, lost partition recovery, virus attack recovery, etc. 

Now, download and install this capable data recovery tool on your computer, both PC and Mac are supported. Then steps below to recover deleted and lost Excel files. 

Step 1. Specify a location.

Run EaseUS Data Recovery Software. Choose the drive X: or perhaps a specific folder on Desktop or somewhere else where you lost the excel files, and then click "Scan".

select a location and click scan

Step 2. Scan for data.

During the scan, you'll see more and more data showing up very quickly in the "Deleted files" result. That's part of what the software has found and displayed. To quickly find the Excel files in the massive data in the scan results, click on the "Filter" on the top area and choose "Documents". Or, search .xls or .xlsx in the Search box. 

scan excel files

Step 3. Preview and recover.

You can double click on a file to preview its integrity. Finally, select the desired files and click "Recover".

preview and recover excel files

The End

This article provides you with a lot of information on Excel not responding issue. There are eight feasible solutions in all. You can try all these and see which one works for you. If you encounter the unsaved Excel file loss, use the AutoRecovery or MS Office Application Recovery to get data back. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is available for you to recover deleted or lost Excel, as well as Word, PPT, PDF, etc. without any effort. Give it a try, and you won't be disappointed.


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