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.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 29, 2018)
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:
If you are using Windows XP, you can follow these steps:
Figure 1. The Run dialog box.
"c:\program files\microsoft office\office\excel.exe" /s
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.
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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.