Task Pane Doesn't Appear Properly

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 18, 2015)

Brian was perplexed by the fact that when he starts Excel 2002, the Task pane momentarily appears and is then overlaid by the standard blank workbook. This happens in spite of the fact that he has the Task pane set to show at start-up (Tools | Options | View tab), and the same selection is chosen at the bottom of the Task pane itself.

Even though Brian is using Excel 2002, the problem he experienced could also occur for those using Excel 2003. Excel automatically hides the Task pane upon startup if your copy of Excel loads any files automatically. For instance, if you have any worksheets in your Startup folder, or if you have a personal.xls file that loads, then the Task pane will automatically be obscured. It appears that this behavior—despite what you explicitly specify for the Task pane to do—is built into Excel.

There are three ways around this problem. The first is to make sure that nothing automatically loads when Excel starts. For many people, this may not be a practical solution—after all, Personal.xls is often used for "global" user macros and customizations. The second solution, then, is to add more programming code to the file being opened automatically (for instance, Personal.xls). This code is designed to run automatically when the file is opened, and it displays the Task pane:

Private Sub Workbook_Open()
    On Error Resume Next
    Application.CommandBars("Task Pane").Visible = True
End Sub

If it is not possible for you to add such coding to the file or files being opened, then you can modify a Registry entry to tell Excel to leave the Task pane open. As always, be careful when you edit the Registry, as a mistake can make your system unstable or totally unusable.

Get out of Excel and follow these steps:

  1. Choose Run from the Start menu. Windows displays the Run dialog box.
  2. In the Open box enter the name regedit.
  3. Click on OK. This starts the Registry Editor program.
  4. Locate and select the following key. (For Excel 2002 the path will differ slightly, referencing 10.0 instead of 11.0.)
     HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\11.0\Common\General
  1. Choose the New option from the Edit menu, then choose DWORD Value. A new value appears in the right side of the Registry Editor, awaiting a name.
  2. Name the value DoNotDismissFileNewTaskPane. Note that there should be no spaces, and capitalization should be just as shown.
  3. With the newly named value still selected, choose the Modify option from the Edit menu. You will see the Edit DWORD Value dialog box.
  4. Change the Value Data field from 0 to 1.
  5. Click on OK.
  6. Close the Registry Editor.

When you restart Excel, the Task pane should remain visibile.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3066) applies to Microsoft Excel 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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Character Frequency Count

Word collects a wide range of statistics about your documents, but one of the things it doesn't collect is how many times ...

Discover More

Numbering on New Paragraph Doesn't Work as Expected

The Numbering feature in Word can be a bit tricky to navigate. Sometimes it works as it should, and other times it seems to ...

Discover More

Determining Business Quarters from Dates

Many businesses organize information according to calendar quarters, especially when it comes to fiscal information. Given a ...

Discover More

Save Time and Supercharge Excel! Automate virtually any routine task and save yourself hours, days, maybe even weeks. Then, learn how to make Excel do things you thought were simply impossible! Mastering advanced Excel macros has never been easier. Check out Excel 2010 VBA and Macros today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Displaying a Count of Zeros on the Status Bar

Excel allows you to display the results of several common worksheet functions on the status bar. The available functions are ...

Discover More

Where Is that Name?

Want to easily see the location of named ranges in your worksheet? It's easy; all you need to do is use the familiar Zoom ...

Discover More

Big File Memory Blues

Excel places limits on how much memory your workbooks can use. Despite these limits, it is possible to create a workbook that ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is five less than 5?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.