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Loading Unwanted Files at Startup

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Loading Unwanted Files at Startup.

Stephen ran into a problem using Excel—every time he starts the program, Excel tries to load all the files in the root directory as spreadsheets. This, of course, messes up his use of Excel.

This problem typically occurs when someone has instructed Excel to load those files. To undo this, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Options from the Tools menu. Excel displays the Options dialog box.
  2. Make sure the General tab is selected. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The General tab of the Options dialog box.

  4. Make sure the Default File Location option is not set to C:\.
  5. Make sure the Alternate Startup File Location option is not set to C:\. (In Excel 2002 and Excel 2003, the name of this option is At Startup, Open All Files In.)
  6. Click on OK.

The options in steps 3 and 4 represent directories whose files Excel should load whenever you start the program. If you don't want Excel to load any files when it starts, just clear the settings in these options, or make sure they are set to directories that really contain things you want loaded.

It is possible that if one of these options is set to C: (the root directory on a Windows system), and you have a lot of files in the root directory, then Excel will try to load so many files that you won't be able to use it at all in order to perform these steps. If that happens to you, use Windows to move the files from the root directory to a temporary directory, and then start Excel. (You won't have to move any of the folders in the root directory, just files.) Once you change the settings in Excel, as described above, you can use Windows to move the files from the temporary directory back to the root directory.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2706) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Loading Unwanted Files at Startup.

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