Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 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: Reducing File Size.

Reducing File Size

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 24, 2020)

4

James complained about an oddity that he noted with his workbooks. He has a workbook to which he added some macros, and doing so increased the size of the file used to store the workbook. (This makes sense—the macros are stored with the workbook.) When James later deleted the macros, Excel did not shrink the size of the workbook file back to its original size.

This behavior is viewed by some as poor design in Excel—the macro data is removed, but the file size remains bloated. There are a couple of things you can try to again regain your svelte file size.

First, try using Save As instead of Save. Doing so causes Excel to create a brand new file for your workbook, and in the process, free up some space. If that doesn't work, you should try individually copying your worksheets to a brand new workbook, and then saving the new workbook. If doing that doesn't work, then you can try copying just the worksheet data (not the actual worksheets) to a different workbook. Obviously, this can become quite time-intensive.

Another option to try is saving the workbook in the .xlsb format. This could reduce the file size by about a third. This format is okay if the file isn't accessed by other programs You could also look for any unused rows and columns at the end of the worksheet. In each worksheet press CTRL+END to go to what Excel thinks is the last cell in the worksheet. If the last cell is in an unused area of the worksheet, then the unnecessary rows colums can be deleted. One reader suggested saving the workbook in .htm or .html format and then resaving it back to .xlsx. This removes any left-over VBA that could cause the file to bloat.

Another thing to try, provided you still have some macros in the workbook, is a free utility called CodeCleaner, written by Excel MVP Rob Bovey. You can find the program on this page:

http://www.appspro.com/Utilities/CodeCleaner.htm

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (9242) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Reducing File Size.

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

Spreading Out a Table

If someone sends you a worksheet that has lots of data in it, you might want to "spread out" the data so you can have ...

Discover More

Controlling the Behavior of the Mouse Wheel

The mouse wheel, by default, controls scrolling vertically through your worksheet. If you don't want the wheel to control ...

Discover More

Drop-Down List Font Sizes

Excel has several features that cannot be customized. The font size in the drop-down lists is one of them. If you need ...

Discover More

Save Time and Supercharge Excel! Automate virtually any routine task and save yourself hours, days, maybe even weeks. Then, learn how to make Excel do things you thought were simply impossible! Mastering advanced Excel macros has never been easier. Check out Excel 2010 VBA and Macros today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Remembering Commonly Used Workbooks

Want a quick way to access the workbooks you use most often? You can "pin" the workbooks so they can be opened with a click.

Discover More

Opening a Workbook as Read-Only

When you need to work on a workbook, you may want to do so without modifying the original contents of the workbook. This ...

Discover More

Problems with Default Workbook and Worksheet Templates

You can create a default template for both your workbooks and worksheets. These should be placed in the XLSTART folder, ...

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. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. 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 2 - 2?

2020-01-02 10:43:03

Gregg J

Another method to reduce file size is to save as .htm or .html file format, then resave it back to .xlsx. This removes VBA and other things that cause file bloating.


2019-12-22 07:29:23

Chris McCarthy

Another thing to try is to look for unwanted blank columns and rows with no data but seen as in use by Excel.

in each sheet press CTRL-END to go to what Excel thinks is the last cell in the sheet. If it's in column F but you've only used up to column D you can delete columns E and F. Treat the rows in the same way and when you save the spreadsheet it will reset the end cells and reduce the size of the file. The unused rows or columns may be due to formulae. For instance, if you sue =SUM(A1:A500) instead of =SUM(A:A) then even if you only use 50 rows all 500 are marked as in use. Change the formulae and delete the unwanted rows/columns.


2019-12-19 10:43:43

Dave Bonin

One of the best ways to reduce file size and speed up file opens and saves is to save Excel files in the .XLSB format.

I find mine are generally about a third smaller in size when saved in .XSLB formats rather than .XLSX or .XLSM formats.

It appears to me that Microsoft pushes the .XLSX and .XLSM formats as they may allow other programs to better access to the contents of Excel files. That's fine when you need that sort of access, but 99% of the time we don't. I believe the vast majority of Excel files are used all by themselves, with no interconnections to the outside world.


2019-12-19 08:29:36

roY tAylor

It is a pity that this Code Cleaner, which does a great job, only works on a 32 bit version of Excel


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.