Strange Message about Others Making Changes in a Workbook

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated July 3, 2021)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365


Sharon is the only one with access to the workbooks that she creates, yet sometimes when she goes to save her work she gets a message that someone else has made changes to the workbook and that she needs to rename it.

This type of message is most likely to come up if your workbooks are stored on a network drive. With networks, there are often all sorts of operations going on in the background over which you have no control. Your files could be getting backed up, virus checkers chould be examining them, network connections could be dropped and established again, software could be "touching" (updating) the file's time and date, or any number of other things.

While such actions are understandable, they could be confusing Excel when it comes to the workbook you have open. This is particularly true if the workbook file's time or date is updated while you are working on it. When Excel goes to save the workbook, it notices that the date and time have changed and then tells you that someone else made changes.

If your computer is not connected to a network and the workbooks, therefore, are on your local hard drive, the cause for the problem is even more perplexing. It is possible that some sort of background program has made a change to the file that Excel interprets as another user's action. For instance, you may have a third-party backup program that backed up the workbook while you had it open, yet somehow still modified a file attribute or two. If Excel notes this, then it may assume that someone else changed the file.

It is also possible that the workbook on which you are working was improperly closed the last time you had it open (not this time), and that Excel may be confused by that.

It is also possible that date and time changes on your system could be confusing Excel. I've had this happen when traveling between time zones. Let's say, for instance, that I'm in the Mountain time zone and save a file at 2:15 pm. I then immediately take a relatively quick trip to the Pacific time zone and my system recognizes that I'm in a new location. Windows helpfully updates the time on my system, and I open the workbook at 2:05 pm in the new location.

If I go to save the file, Excel will see that there is a copy from 2:15 pm, which is later than my current time. (Excel isn't smart enough to know that 50 minutes has actually transpired.) It assumes that someone else made changes, and won't let me save mine.

As you can tell, there could be any number of causes for the problem. Regardless, the only thing you can do is to save the file under another name, delete the original, and then rename the new workbook with the filename you want used.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (13393) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365.

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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