Fixing "Can't Find Files" Errors

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated May 1, 2021)
This tip applies to Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


Jamie is having problems starting Excel properly. When he starts the program he gets two error messages: One says that Excel cannot find the file Microsoft.xls, and the other that it cannot find the file Office.xls. After clicking OK to both of the errors, Excel works normally.

When you start Excel, it should do just that—start right up. Error messages like the ones mentioned mean that Excel thinks it should be able to find a couple of files, but it cannot. The two files in this instance are both XLS files, so they are workbooks that Excel thinks it should be able to open.

In doing searches of systems with newly installed versions of Excel, there are no workbooks with the names Microsoft.xls or Office.xls, so I can only conclude that the files were added to the machine by a user, by a third-party program, or by some add-in for Excel.

The first thing to try is to force Excel to re-register itself in the Windows Registry. You do this at the command prompt (or after choosing Start | Run), using a command line like the following:

"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office\Excel.exe" /Regserver

The quote marks around the full path are mandatory, and there is a good chance that the path name to Excel.exe will be different on your system than what is shown here. After executing this command line, try starting Excel again and see if you get the same errors; you may very well not get them.

If you continue to get the errors, then search your system for the XLSTART folder. Make sure there is nothing in there, such as a workbook. Anything in the folder is automatically loaded by Excel when it starts, and—if there is a workbook present—it could reference the two missing files.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2375) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

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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