Excel Filename Is Too Long

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated September 9, 2023)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021

Malay uses Excel almost every day. From time to time, Excel refuses to open a workbook stored on a network drive. Malay receives a message that the file path is too long, or the filename is too long. However, he notes that the same file opens easily if he brings it to the desktop. Malay wonders why this happens.

This problem is due to the length of the actual filename (duh!), but what actually counts towards that length? It is every character (including slashes, quote marks, and spaces) that are include in both the path and filename. Since network paths can be quite a bit longer than local paths (on your hard drive), it is easy to run into the length limit. This problem is explained quite exhaustively at this Microsoft site:


This article is noted as being for Excel 2010, but it is still very much applicable to other versions of Excel. This is because the issue is with Windows, not with Excel itself.

There are a few potential solutions you can pursue. First, you can simply move the workbook to your desktop, as Malay did. There the path will be shorter, and things will work out just fine. When you are done, you can then move the workbook back onto the network.

Another possible solution is to add a mapping, within Windows, to your network drive. Actually, you'll want to map to a network path. So, for instance, let's say your workbooks are within a network drive such as the following:


You could map that path to a drive on your system (such as X: or Y:) so that you can refer to any folders or files in that path simply by using the mapped drive letter. This means that your references to the workbooks would be much shorter and, therefore, not run afoul of the length limit. You can get the general idea on how to do the mapping by referring to either of these pages:


Still another solution is to edit the Registry, in Windows, so that you can use longer filenames. This approach takes a bit more explaining, and rather than do so here, I'll simply direct you to a good explanation that can be found at the How To Geek website:


The one potential gotcha related to this approach is that it may cause some compatibility problems with older 32-bit applications. (Not Excel; you should have no problem with it.) If you don't use any 32-bit software or simply have a strong need for very long file paths, this tweak should help.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (13911) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021.

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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