Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021. 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: Starting in Safe Mode.

Starting in Safe Mode

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated December 24, 2022)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021


If you are having problems with Excel, it could be because of the files and add-ins that are loaded whenever you start Excel. To test this theory, you can start Excel in "safe mode." Here's an easy way to start Excel in safe mode:

First, make sure Excel is not running. If it is, exit the program entirely. Then, display the Search box in Windows (you may need to display the Start menu to do this) or simply click in the Cortana box (if you are using Windows 10 or Windows 11). In the box, type the following:

excel.exe /s 

When you press Enter, Excel starts, but in doing so it bypasses all the files in the various startup folders (such as XLStart). You know you are in safe mode because the words "Safe Mode" appears in the title bar. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. Running in safe mode.

You can use Excel as you normally would, and then exit the program. The next time you start the program—without the safe mode switch—it runs as it normally does.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (11632) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Starting in Safe Mode.

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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