What to Do When Excel Keeps Crashing

Microsoft Excel is one of the most-used programs on any PC. For accountants and anyone else who does bookwork on their computer, Excel is a must-have piece of software. However, if Microsoft Excel has crashed, it means there is some kind of issue going on behind the scenes. Excel doesn't take up much in the way of processing power. In fact, of all the programs you run it is probably on the lower end of the processing power use spectrum. Due to this you likely don't have any RAM or processor issues when Excel crashes. Instead, you'll need to look into other reasons for why Microsoft Excel keeps crashing.

Run Excel in Safe Mode When Excel Keeps Crashing

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There are times where the best course of action for figuring out why Microsoft Excel keeps crashing is to run the application in Safe Mode. Sometimes unwanted files leach onto the software, so whenever Excel loads, the unwanted file loads as well. Other files may be corrupting the software. When you run Excel in Safe Mode, you'll discover these leach files do not pop up while you boot in Safe Mode, which in turn will help you not only run the program, but potentially figure out what is causing the issue.

How to Boot in Safe Mode

Booting your software in Safe Mode doesn't require you to start Windows in Safe Mode. After all, if the problem is only occurring in Excel you likely don't need the entire computer running in Safe Mode.

In order to boot in Safe Mode you'll want to hold down the "CTRL" button on the keyboard and then double-click Excel. A prompt window will appear asking if you want to load the application using the Safe Mode.

You can also choose the "Rub" option on the Start menu and then type "excel /safe" (without the quotations) and click "OK." This will load Excel in Safe Mode. You will need to repeat this process every time you wish to open the application in Safe Mode.

Booting in Regular Mode

Sometimes running Excel in Safe Mode once will correct the problem on the next time you boost the software. Running in Safe Mode can disconnect the application from the issues that are plaguing it, so when you finally start in the standard method you'll have the application running as it should.

However, if the next time you boot Excel you find that the problem is still popping up, you will need to proceed to the next steps in troubleshooting why Microsoft Excel keeps crashing.

Remove and Investigate Add-Ins

After attempting to run Excel in Safe Mode, if the problems continue, you must continue on with some of your own investigating. Several third-party designers will create add-ins that run on top of Excel. Generally, these applications will work fine as each has been tested time and time again.

However there are times where Microsoft Excel will update and the add-ins will not receive an update for weeks (if not longer), which can cause the issues; or the third-party will not automatically send out the update. You will need to determine if these add-ins are causing the problems.

Sifting through Add-Ins

Many of the add-ins will be installed on the computer registry. You don't want to dig through the computer's registry without knowing what you're doing. If you start doing
that you run the risk of deleting important files from your computer and causing further problems.

Instead, you will want to disable the COM add-ins first. To do this, click the "File" button and then choose "Options." From the secondary pull-down menu choose "Add-ins." This will pull-up a new prompt pop-up window. Change the COM add-ins and choose "Go." When the new window appears, check off all enabled COM add-ins and then select "OK."

Restarting the Program

Now that all the COM add-ins have been turned off, reboot Excel. If Microsoft Excel keeps crashing, the issue is not with any of the COM add-ins. However, if the application runs correctly, you will know the issue is one of the add-ins.

With this knowledge you can return to the "File," "Options," "Add-ins" prompt window and enable them one at a time. Turn one of the add-ins on and then boot the software up. Continue with this process, adding one new COM add-in at a time, until the problem occurs. This will show you exactly which of the add-ins is causing the problems.

After determining which of the add-ins is causing the issue, you can go to the third-party website and see if there is an update or another fix provided by the designer.

Troubleshooting Excel

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If none of the previous troubleshooting steps for determining why Microsoft Excel keeps crashing have worked, you'll need to dive deep into the investigation process. There are a number of different steps you'll need to perform, but as you check each off at a time, you'll eventually identify which is the problem and what is causing the problem.

File Details

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Over time your Microsoft Excel will update. Microsoft will release updates and patches throughout the year that are designed to improve functionality and features on the application. However, this can change how the file is accessed. Due to this, the Excel file you're attempting to use may not be compatible with a more recent updates.

If Microsoft Excel keeps crashing when opening a specific file, it is likely because there are improper formulas within the file that cannot be converted. Sometimes there are hundreds (if not more) hidden heights and widths within a file, or there are too many different styles that combine when information is copied and pasted between different files. When this is the case, the file may not open correctly and may mean that Microsoft Excel keeps crashing.

Try opening different files. If the other files load correctly, you know the problem is with the file. If the file is being sent to you by a third-party (or a third-party application designer), you will want to test out features of the file outside of the provided third-party application. This way you can see if it is working accurately.

Selective Startup

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If you are at this point and Microsoft Excel keeps crashing, you will now need to perform a selective startup to see if the program itself, or a process, is causing issues with Microsoft Excel.

To perform the selective startup you'll want to click on the "Start" button and then choose "Run." When the Run window appears, type "msconfig" (without the quotations) and press "Enter." This will bring up a System Configuration Utility window. Choose the "Startup" tab at the top of the screen. A new display will show everything that loads when you boot up the operating system.

Knowing what is running when your computer boots up is informative, as you may not know everything that is up and running. Some files might surprise you. You can uncheck the applications you do not want to load. If you installed a program and then Microsoft Excel keeps crashing, you may want to uncheck the application. You may want to experiment with this feature until you find that Microsoft Excel loads correctly.

Sometimes files will run in conflict with Excel. If you receive any error messages when Excel crashes, it might be because of this. So testing out and removing different programs and applications from the startup may be what is needed to determine what is causing the issue.

Check Your Antivirus Software

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It is possible your antivirus software is not playing nice with Excel. Sometimes the antivirus software will identify an application on your computer as a potential threat, and as such shoot it down before it can get running (or once certain files are loaded).

When this is the case, you will want to check for any possible updates for your antivirus software. If the software is up to date, you will want to check which files it is identifying as threats. This will vary depending on the antivirus software you have running, but usually it will maintain a list of threats it has shut down. If you see Excel is listed as one of the threats, and the antivirus is stopping the run process, you'll want to go into the antivirus software and remove Microsoft Excel as a known threat. Once you're done with that, the software should run correctly.


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It is a big pain when Microsoft Excel keeps crashing all the time. Constant crashing will not only prevent you from getting your work done, but it may also cost you work as well. To correct the issue, you'll want to follow these troubleshooting steps. Typically you'll be able to correct the problem with the Safe Mode or the Add-In sifting. However, if you don't, keep at it and follow the secondary troubleshooting steps. You will identify the problem and, once it is corrected, be able to avoid the constant crashing problem with Excel and get your work done.

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