Fixing Startup problems

Unfortunately, many Excel users sometimes start experiencing problems with their Excel: File not found errors, compile errors, GPF's, Excel refusing to load, files which do not open, etcetera.

This is a list of things-to-try when Excel exhibits problems.


Diagnostic tools

Microsoft have created a tool that searches your Office installations for known problems. It is called the Microsoft Support and Recovery Assistant.

You can download and install the Microsoft Support and Recovery Assistant from here.

With Windows 10 many problems have been reported in the newsgroups and fora regarding Office. Microsoft has written an elaborate article on the known issues and their possible resolutions here: Known issues with Office and Windows 10

Excel shows errors during startup or behaves odd

Open Excel in Safe mode

Start, Run,
"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office\Excel.exe" /Safe

Tip: You can also start Excel in safe mode by holding down the control key whilst you double-click the Excel icon.

The safe switch ensures Excel starts without opening any addins or using your menu customisations. If this works, chances are that your toolbar customisation file is corrupt. Locate all files with extension .xlb and rename the extension(s) to something like .old
Now try and start Excel again.

In Windows, the xlb file is found by entering this into the Windows Explorer address bar and pressing the Enter key:


Try opening Excel without any addins or hidden workbooks

Use the Automation switch to start Excel without loading addins or workbooks from the XLSTART folder:

Click Start, Run,
"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office\Excel.exe" /Automation
(Quotes mandatory, Note you may have to change the path)
The Windows Run box
If your error disappears, either an add-in or a (hidden) workbook that is loaded upon Excel's start bothers you.

Locate the offending file using the following steps:

Excel Add-ins.

  1. Click the File tab and select Options.
  2. Click the Add-ins tab
  3. In the dropdown near the bottom, select "Excel Add-ins" and click Go.
  4. The Excel add-ins dialog
  5. Note which are checked
  6. Uncheck one
  7. Restart XL
  8. If no error, you've found the one causing the problem

Com Addins

Another type of addins are COM addins.

  1. Click the File tab and select Excel Options.
  2. Click the Add-ins tab
  3. In the dropdown near the bottom, select "COM Add-ins" and click Go
  4. Uncheck the first checked COM add-in and then reboot Excel and verify if your problem goes away.
  5. Repeat from step 1 if the problem is still there.

If your problem still persist, some COM addins are not shown in the userinterface and can only be unloaded from the registry. Check the registry, at this location:


Warning: Backup your registry before making ANY changes!!!

Not an add-in? It may be a (hidden) workbook causing trouble then.

Check workbooks that load at startup.

  1. Find your XLSTART folder (in Windows Explorer, type %appdata%\Microsoft\Excel\XLSTART in the address bar and press the Enter key)
  2. Move all files out of that location
  3. Open them one by one (in Excel) and find the one with the error
  4. Move the others back.

You can also check whether a folder has been set to load at startup and repeat the above for that folder.

Click the File tab, select Options, and click the Advanced tab, scroll down to find the General section:

Office button, Excel Options, Advanced tab in Excel

File tab, Excel Options, General tab

Removing Excel's registry entries

Sometimes all actions listed above don't help to resolve the problem. For various users, removing Excel's main registry entry in Windows Registry solved the problem.

Warning: All cautions about tampering with the registry apply!!

As a last resort, remove the entire root folder of Excel from the registry (it should be recreated when you launch Excel). This is the registry key to remove:


First find this key and export it to your desktop by right-clicking on the "Excel" entry in the folder tree and selecting Export.

Exporting Excel's main entry in the registry

When the export is done, right-click the entry in the tree again and choose Delete:

Deleting the Excel registry key

Now restart Excel and see if that has helped.

Opening Files From Desktop Or Explorer Fails

Reregister Excel with Windows

If you have trouble loading Excel files by double-clicking, the shell registration for Excel may have to be re-written. How to do that depends on your Excel version.

To reset the File associations for Excel, run setup/repair (running the Office setup in Repair mode from "Programs and Features", aka "Add/Remove Programs").

Ignore other applications

Check in Tools, Options, General tab whether "Ignore other applications" is set. Uncheck it.

An important setting in Excel

Trouble caused by antivirus software

NAV has shown to cause "Excel caused an invalid page
fault in module VBE6.DLL".
You might try disabling the Office plug in of NAV.

Trouble caused by corrupt temporary files

When a workbook contains controls from Excel's control toolbox temporary files are created in that folder. If such a temporary file is somehow corrupted it may prevent the workbook it belongs to from working normally and sometimes even causes Excel to crash. To try to avoind such errors, emptying your Temp folder may help.

Select Start, run and type %temp% and hit OK to directly open your temp folder.

Disabled files

Files may have been disabled when Excel thought them to be the cause of a crash. If you have had a problem with opening a file, Excel may have labeled it as suspect.

Select the File tab (Office button in 2007) and click (Excel) Options. Click the Add-ins tab and use the dropdown:

Disabled Items in Excel

If the offending file is listed, select it and click Enable. The file you just enabled may of course cause Excel to crash again, click here to find some pointers on how to open corrupt Excel files.

VBA Issue

Sometimes Excel suddenly seems to think it has lost all macro's in a file. According to Microsoft, this issue happens when the compiled VBA project is corrupted. To get your VBA code back up and running, you can (temporarily) add a new registry key:

  • With RegEdit, locate the key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Excel\Options\
  • Add a new DWORD value called ForceVBALoadFromSource
  • Assign the value 1 to this DWORD
  • Now try to open the workbook again and see if the VBA project loads
  • After the VBA corruption issue is fixed, you can set the DWORD back to 0

Other resources

Do you have one particular file that causes trouble? Check out this page.


Showing last 8 comments of 337 in total (Show All Comments):


Comment by: Matt (30-12-2017 00:15:38) deeplink to this comment

No it is crashing again. I recently installed Hitman Pro and reading the comments above it is probably the cause.

Comment by: Jim Fox (28-2-2018 07:10:59) deeplink to this comment

Re: Office (Excel) 2013.
I now have a Special Paste selecting Unicode Text copy problem when I copy and Special Paste 'data' from a website into Excel 2013. It only copies the data as Text and NOT Unicode Text.
It worked up until a couple of days ago and I had used it for several years.
I have Windows 7 Home Premium and DO NOT have Skype.
Is there a way to fix this or do I have to reload Office 2013 to fix it?
I await your advice.
Thanks & Best Regards,

Comment by: Jan Karel Pieterse (28-2-2018 14:00:05) deeplink to this comment

Hi Jim,

Can you share a sample URL from which you copy and paste? (and which bit you copied)

Comment by: m subbarayudu (30-8-2018 11:28:07) deeplink to this comment

excel problem copy , paste,insert not working

Comment by: Jan Karel Pieterse (30-8-2018 12:12:47) deeplink to this comment

Hi subbarayudu,

This sounds a lot like this issue. I'm afraid I have no more information than you can find in the discussion referred to below:

Comment by: Samar (24-11-2020 08:18:00) deeplink to this comment

I have one file Which works Perfectly Fine in my desktop .
When i share it through email, Box , Zoom or whatever method , the other person have of error of sheet activation failed .
The sheet has code in workbook_open
Can you please guide me what can be wrong in this

Comment by: Jan Karel Pieterse (24-11-2020 11:04:00) deeplink to this comment

Hi Samar,

Sometimes it helps to move the code inside the Workbook_Open event to a sub in a normal module and then call that sub from Workbook_Open using e.g.:

Private Sub Workbook_Open()
    Application.OnTime Now,"TheNewSub"
End Sub

Comment by: D-M (5-2-2021 02:57:00) deeplink to this comment

No questions at all - just wanted to send some appreciation to you for creating this guide. Cleaning out the registry of add-ins (1 of) worked. You have saved me a whole bunch of future swearing and punching of keyboards.

Excellent work sir!

Have a question, comment or suggestion? Then please use this form.

If your question is not directly related to this web page, but rather a more general "How do I do this" Excel question, then I advise you to ask your question here:

To post VBA code in your comment, use [VB] tags, like this: [VB]Code goes here[/VB].