Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365. 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: Seeing Excel's Program Window.

Seeing Excel's Program Window

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated September 19, 2023)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365


Have you ever opened Excel, only to be greeted by a program window that was obviously too big for your screen? For example, you may see only the top left portion of the program window, with Excel's title bar missing off the top of the visible screen. Typically, such a condition crops up when, for whatever reason, you decrease the resolution at which the Windows screen is displayed. For instance, if you had been viewing your screen at 1024 x 768 and you decrease your screen resolution to 800 x 600. When you later try to open Excel, it may appear off the top of the screen because it is "larger" than the available space on the desktop.

The first solution that springs to mind is that you can simply switch back to the higher resolution, open Excel and make the window smaller, and then switch back to the lower resolution. If this is not possible for some reason, then you must select a different way to accomplish the task.

The easiest (and quickest) method to try is to use the window controls. Since you cannot see them (they are accessible through the Control menu at the upper-left corner of the program window) because they are off the screen, you must use the keyboard. Follow these steps:

  1. Press Alt+Spacebar. This displays the Control menu (even if you cannot see it).
  2. Press the letter R; the Excel window is restored to its "in between" size.
  3. Press Alt+Spacebar to again display the Control menu.
  4. Press the letter X; the Excel window is maximized.

You might think that the last two steps would revert Excel back to its oversized condition. Instead, it forces Excel to calculate the correct size of the desktop and to set the maximum window size accordingly.

Another thing you can try is to hold down the Windows key on your keyboard as you press the Up Arrow. This maximizes the active window so that it fills the available screen space. (The Windows key is the one that has the Windows logo on it.)

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (8270) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Seeing Excel's Program Window.

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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