Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. 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: Reducing File Sizes for Workbooks with PivotTables.

Reducing File Sizes for Workbooks with PivotTables

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 1, 2015)

3

PivotTables are great for certain types of data analysis. Since PivotTables do quite a bit of number crunching, one of the techniques Excel uses to process them faster is to create an "intermediate dataset" to work with. This intermediate dataset, by default, is stored with the worksheet, so PivotTables can increase the size of your workbooks, sometimes dramatically.

If your workbook contains multiple PivotTables, all based on a single data source, Excel may create an intermediate dataset for each PivotTable, instead of using one intermediate dataset. This, of course, could increase the size of your workbook very rapidly.

You can control how Excel creates the intermediate dataset by modifying the options you use when you create the PivotTable.

  1. Create your PivotTable as you normally would.
  2. Display the Options tab (Excel 2007 and Excel 2010) or the Analyze tab (Excel 2013) of the Ribbon. (This tab is visible only when you select a cell in the PivotTable.)
  3. At the left end of the Ribbon click the Options tool in the PivotTable group. Excel displays the PivotTable Options dialog box.
  4. Make sure the Data tab is displayed. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Data tab of the PivotTable Options dialog box.

  6. Clear the Save Source Data with File check box.
  7. Choose the Refresh on Open check box.
  8. Click on OK to close the PivotTable Options dialog box.

You don't need to choose the Refresh on Open check box (step 6) if you don't want to, but if you don't, you will need to remember to manually refresh the PivotTable every time you open the workbook.

If you already have quite a few PivotTables in your workbook, and you don't want to go through the process of creating them again, you can use a macro to step through the PivotTables and modify the caching index and turn off the saving of the intermediate data to disk. The following macro will accomplish these tasks:

Sub PTReduceSize()
    Dim wks As Worksheet
    Dim PT As PivotTable

    For Each wks In ActiveWorkbook.Worksheets
        For Each PT In wks.PivotTables
            PT.RefreshTable
            PT.CacheIndex = 1
            PT.SaveData = False
        Next
    Next
End Sub

Once the macro runs (it won't take long), you should save your workbook using the Save As option. This will write a new workbook file, and you will be able to compare how much this change reduced the size of your workbook. Remember, however, that with the intermediate data not being saved to disk, the refreshing of the PivotTables takes longer when you first open the workbook.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (8669) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Reducing File Sizes for Workbooks with PivotTables.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Animating Your Text

Want to make your text shimmer and dance on the screen? Depending on your version of Word you can easily add snazzy ...

Discover More

Different Layouts for Footnotes

If you want to have footnotes appear in a different number of columns than what your text appears in, you may be out of luck. ...

Discover More

Extracting a State and a ZIP Code

Excel is often used to process or edit data in some way. For example, you may have a bunch of addresses from which you need ...

Discover More

Create Custom Apps with VBA! Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2013 today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Setting Stable Column Widths in a PivotTable

When you update a PivotTable, Excel can take liberties with any formatting you previously applied to the PivotTable. Here's ...

Discover More

Bogging Down with Calculated Items

Create a complex PivotTable and you may find that your system slows to a crawl. The reason for this may be due to the way in ...

Discover More

Updating Multiple PivotTables at Once

PivotTables are a great way to process huge amounts of data and make sense of that data. If you have a number of PivotTables ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 7 + 5?

2017-03-02 07:06:30

Dave Proctor

I have a 199mb workbook. It contains 1 x data worksheet (12k rows x 50 columns, and about 6 pivot tables running off it.
Your macro reduced the size of the workbook to 159mb.
Unfortunately on 1 of the worksheets the reduction macro when run, killed off 2 x calculated fields.
I'm not sure if there is a way around this, would appreciate comments if anyone has time.
Thanks for a great resource!


2016-03-10 10:37:27

Allison

This worked great for my workbook as well. Went from 33MB to 14MB. Thanks!


2015-10-05 10:15:53

Barbara

I have several cumbersome workbooks with PivotTables linked to outside sources. I just used this tip to take one from 5,600kb down to 127kb! Thanks Allen!


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.