Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Loading Unwanted Files at Startup.

Loading Unwanted Files at Startup

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated June 9, 2021)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016


Stephen ran into a problem using Excel—every time he starts the program, Excel tries to load all the files in the root directory as spreadsheets. This, of course, messes up his use of Excel.

This problem typically occurs when someone has instructed Excel to load those files. To undo this, follow these steps:

  1. Display the Excel Options dialog box. (In Excel 2007 click the Office button and then click Excel Options. In Excel 2010 and later versions display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. Click Save at the left side of the dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Save options of the Excel Options dialog box.

  4. Make sure the Default File Location option (Excel 2007 and Excel 2010) or Default Local File Location option (Excel 2013 and Excel 2016) is not set to C:\.
  5. Click Advanced at the left side of the dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  6. Figure 2. The advanced options of the Excel Options dialog box.

  7. In the General section, make sure the "At Startup, Open All Files In" option is not set to C:\.
  8. Click on OK.

The options in steps 3 and 5 represent directories whose files Excel should load whenever you start the program. If you don't want Excel to load any files when it starts, just clear the settings in these options, or make sure they are set to directories that really contain things you want loaded.

It is possible that if one of these options is set to C: (the root directory on a Windows system), and you have a lot of files in the root directory, then Excel will try to load so many files that you won't be able to use it at all in order to perform these steps. If that happens to you, use Windows to move the files from the root directory to a temporary directory, and then start Excel. (You won't have to move any of the folders in the root directory, just files.) Once you change the settings in Excel, as described above, you can use Windows to move the files from the temporary directory back to the root directory.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (6226) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Loading Unwanted Files at Startup.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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