How to Open Excel in Safe Mode

How to Open Excel in Safe Mode - Featured

Are you having trouble with Excel? You can try to open Excel inits barebones Safe Mode to troubleshoot. Here’s how.

Excel is a powerful spreadsheet application that has been one of the key applications in Microsoft’s Office suite for many, many years. The vast majority of the time, it’s a really useful application that lets you analyze data in a wide variety of ways.

Sometimes, however, things can go wrong. You may find that Excel keeps crashing, or that you’re unable to open certain Excel files. If this happens, Excel Safe Mode can save you a lot of headaches. This troubleshooting mode strips away many of the features that can cause issues and allows you to open files that won’t open in the default version of Excel.

If you’re having issues with your spreadsheets, then here’s how to open Excel in Safe Mode.

Three Ways to Open Excel in Safe Mode

There are three ways to open Excel in Safe Mode. You can just press a key while you run the app from its desktop, taskbar, or Start menu icon, or you can use the Run dialog to handle it. You can also create a shortcut icon that opens the application in Safe Mode.

Using a Keyboard Shortcut

The quickest and easiest way to open Excel in Safe Mode is to use a keyboard shortcut. All you need to do is hold down a key while opening Excel to launch the app in Safe Mode. It’s important to note that this won’t work when trying to open a specific file; you’ll need to use the Excel application icon.

  1. Locate the Excel shortcut on your desktop.
    excel shortcut
  2. You may also have the Excel app pinned to your taskbar.
    excel taskbar
  3. If there’s no Excel shortcut on your desktop or taskbar, click the Start icon.
    windows 11 start button
  4. If Excel isn’t in your pinned apps, select All Apps.
    excel all apps
  5. Scroll down until you see the Excel app icon.
    excel app icon
  6. Once you have located an Excel shortcut or app icon, hold down the Ctrl key and double-click the Excel shortcut or app icon.
  7. Don’t release the Ctrl key until you see a dialog box asking if you want to start Excel in Safe Mode.
    excel open in safe mode dialog
  8. Release the Ctrl key and click Yes.
  9. Excel will start in Safe Mode.

Using the Run Dialog

It’s also possible to launch Excel in Safe Mode from the Run dialog box. You’ll need to enter a modifier that forces Excel to start in Safe Mode rather than the default mode.

  1. Use the keyboard shortcut Win+R to open the Run dialog box.
  2. Type excel /safe into the Run dialog box.
    excel run dialog with safe mode modifier
  3. Press Enter and Excel should launch in Safe Mode.

Creating an Excel Safe Mode Shortcut

If you find yourself using Excel in Safe Mode often, you can create your own desktop shortcut that will always open Excel in Safe Mode. Whenever you want to use Safe Mode, you can use this shortcut instead of the default Excel shortcut. You’ll need to create a new Excel shortcut first, which you can then edit to open in Safe Mode. You should be sure to give the shortcut a distinguishable name.

  1. Click the Start icon.
    windows 11 start button
  2. Select All Apps.
    excel all apps
  3. Scroll down to find the Excel app icon and drag it onto your desktop.
    excel drag icon to desktop
  4. A new Excel shortcut should be created.
  5. Right-click the new shortcut and select Properties.
    excel shortcut properties
  6. Select the Shortcut tab and click in the Target field.
    excel shortcut target in shortcut tab
  7. At the very end of the target, add /safe, ensuring that it comes after the quotation marks if there are any.
    excel modified target
  8. Click the General tab.
    excel shortcut name
  9. Edit the shortcut name to something that you will recognize as being your Safe Mode shortcut, such as Excel Safe Mode.
  10. Click OK and your new Safe Mode shortcut is created. You can use this shortcut any time you want to launch Excel in Safe Mode.
    excel safe mode shortcut on desktop

How Can I Tell if Excel is Running in Safe Mode?

You can easily tell if Excel is running in Safe Mode or not by checking the file name at the top of the window. If you’re in Safe Mode, you’ll see Safe Mode after Microsoft Excel.
excel running in safe mode

How to Exit Excel Safe Mode

Exiting Safe Mode is as simple as closing Excel. When you open Excel again, as long as you don’t use one of the methods above to open it in Safe Mode, it will open in the default mode.

Will This Work on Mac?

Safe Mode in Excel is only available on Windows. There’s no way to launch Excel in Safe Mode when using Excel for Mac.

What’s Different About Excel Safe Mode?

When running in Safe Mode, Excel strips away some of the features of the standard version that makes errors less likely to occur. This includes preventing any add-ins or extensions from loading, as these can often cause Excel to crash. In addition, other features such as recovered documents and AutoCorrect are disabled.

If you have made any customizations to Excel, such as customizing the toolbar or command bar, these won’t load in Safe Mode. You are also unable to save preferences or templates in Safe Mode

When to Use Excel Safe Mode

If you’re having problems with Excel crashing, then opening it in Safe Mode can allow you to try to track down the source of the problem. If you can use Excel without any issues in Safe Mode, but it constantly crashes when using it in the standard mode, this may indicate that there is an issue with an Excel add-on.

When you’re unable to open a file in Excel, meaning that you cannot access the data it contains, you may be able to open the same file when running Excel in Safe Mode. This can be a godsend if you’re unable to access the data in a file that you really need.

Troubleshooting Those Pesky Problems

Knowing how to open Excel in Safe Mode ensures that you can troubleshoot problems with Excel or open Excel files that are otherwise causing Excel to crash. It’s a very useful tool and is simple to access once you know how.

Excel isn’t the only Microsoft app that can be opened in Safe Mode. You can open most Office applications in Safe Mode using the Ctrl keyboard shortcut if you’re having problems with them. If you’re having issues with Word or PowerPoint, for example, you can open these apps in Safe Mode, too.

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