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: Starting in Safe Mode.

Starting in Safe Mode

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 17, 2017)

1

If you are having problems with Excel, it could be because of the files and add-ins that are loaded whenever you start Excel. To test this theory, you can start Excel in "safe mode." How you do it depends on the version of Windows you are using. If you are using Windows 7 or Vista, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Start button at the lower-left of your screen. Windows displays the Start menu.
  2. Within the Search Programs and Files box (Windows 7) or the Start Search box (Vista)—at the bottom of the Start menu—enter the following:
  3.      excel.exe /s 
    
  4. Press Enter.

If you are using Windows XP, you can follow these steps:

  1. Choose the Run option from the Start menu. Windows displays the Run dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  2. Figure 1. The Run dialog box.

  3. In the Open box, type the path to the Excel program, and add the /s switch at the end. For instance, the command line you enter might look like this:
  4.      "c:\program files\microsoft office\office\excel.exe" /s 
    
  5. Click OK.

Excel starts, but in doing so, it bypasses all the files in the various startup folders (such as XLStart) and skips loading the toolbar file (Excel.xlb). You know you are in safe mode because the words "Safe Mode" appears in the title bar. You can use Excel as you normally would, and then exit the program. The next time you start the program—without the safe mode switch—it runs as it normally does.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3365) 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: Starting in Safe Mode.

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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What is 9 - 7?

2016-04-12 19:11:34

Steve

My "MS Office Excel 2003 has stopped working" on startup just today on my Vista Home Basic PC, presumably after an update? I tried this tip and Excel opened and ran fine. But the original problem still remains. Any additional tips/solutions (e.g., how to track down the offending change?) would be appreciated!
And yes, I know, both Office 2003 and Vista are no longer supported. Guess I'll have to update to Win 7 (not sure if PC can do Win 10) and Office 2007 or later...
Thanks!


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