Wondering how to open Excel in safe mode? Keep reading to learn all possible methods for triggering Excel safe mode.
Encountering hiccups in your Excel experience is not uncommon. Imagine a scenario where a workbook stubbornly refuses to open, an Excel add-in behaves unexpectedly, or, worse, Excel crashes when handling a specific workbook loaded with third-party add-ins.
Whether you’re grappling with these challenges or any other Excel-related issues, the safe mode feature emerges as a valuable ally. In this user-friendly Excel tutorial, I’ll walk you through various seamless approaches to set your Excel application in safe mode, empowering you with troubleshooting capabilities for a smoother experience.
📒 Read More: All About Compatibility Mode in Microsoft Excel
What Is Excel Safe Mode?
Excel Safe Mode is a troubleshooting feature designed to help you identify and resolve issues within Microsoft Excel. When launched in Safe Mode, Excel disables certain settings and functionalities, allowing the application to start with minimal features and configurations.
This mode is particularly useful when you experience problems such as Excel crashes, unresponsive workbooks, or malfunctioning add-ins. By isolating potential causes of disruptions, you can pinpoint issues related to conflicting add-ins, corrupted files, or other software conflicts.
In Safe Mode, Excel opens with default settings and add-ins disabled, providing a clean environment for you to diagnose problems. To initiate Excel Safe Mode, you can employ various methods, such as keyboard shortcuts or command-line options.
At the time of writing, there isn’t any way to run Excel safe mode in macOS. This troubleshooting method is exclusively for Excel Windows editions.
Features and Functionalities Not Available in Safe Mode
When you launch your Excel desktop app in safe mode, you can’t use the following:
- Excel AutoCorrect
- Excel AutoFill for Custom Lists doesn’t work
- You can’t edit the Custom List either
- Ribbon menu or toolbar can’t be modified
- You can recover a document in safe mode but it won’t open automatically
- Third-party add-ins, extensions, features, etc., won’t load
- Built-in Excel add-ins won’t work either
- You’ll see limited icons and content in the File > Home, Open, Info, and Account menus
- You can’t edit the Quick Access Toolbar
- You’ll find most Excel Options items are greyed out
Excel Safe Mode With a Keyboard Shortcut
This is the easiest way to launch Excel in safe mode. You can use the method on the default Excel shortcut or an Excel workbook.
Press the Ctrl key on the keyboard.
Navigate to the Excel shortcut on your PC, either on the Start menu or Taskbar.
Double-click on the app icon while still holding the Ctrl key.
When you see a Microsoft Excel dialog box as presented in the above screenshot, release the Ctrl key.
Click Yes to open Excel in safe mode.
However, if you click No, Excel will open in the normal mode with all custom configurations and functionalities.
If you apply the above method on the Excel app icon, a blank Excel workbook will open. On the top of the workbook, you should see the Safe Mode message.
However, if you open an existing Excel workbook in safe mode, you won’t see the Safe Mode notification.
📒 Read More: How to Fix Microsoft Excel Cannot Paste the Data
Excel Safe Mode Using the Start Menu Search Field
If you’re unable to call the Excel safe mode dialog box by following the previous method, here’s a simple alternative.
Click the Start menu icon or click on the Windows Search field.
Then, type the following code inside the search box and hit Enter:
Microsoft Excel shall instantly open in safe mode without showing any dialog box.
This method won’t work on an individual Excel workbook. You need to manually open the troubled Excel workbook from the File > Open menu.
Excel Safe Mode From the Run Dialog
Another cool method you can try is through the Run dialog.
Press the Windows + R keys together to launch the Run dialog on a Windows PC.
Inside the Open field, type the following command and hit Enter:
A blank Excel workbook will open in safe mode.
You can also open an existing Excel workbook in safe mode from the Run dialog.
Simply, enter the location of the Excel file inside the Open field as shown in the screenshot above.
Then, press and hold the Ctrl key when pressing the Enter key on your keyboard.
Excel Safe Mode Using the Command Prompt
If you love to use the Windows Command Prompt to execute batch files or applications, I’ve also got you covered.
Click the Start button and type CMD to bring up various versions of the Command Prompt app. There, click on the Run as administrator to launch Windows Command Prompt with elevated rights.
If your Excel installation folder is in C:\ drive, you’ll need admin rights. However, if you’ve installed Excel in any other drive, say D:\, you can open CMD in normal mode.
Next, you need to navigate to the directory where the Excel.exe file is available. For the latest Excel app on Windows 10 or 11, the directory is as mentioned below:
C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\root\Office16
cd in the CMD terminal and copy-paste the above address.
Hit Enter to redirect to the Office16 directory.
Now, execute the following command to launch Excel in safe mode:
Excel Safe Mode With the PowerShell Terminal
Running Excel in safe mode using a command is comparatively easier when you use the Windows PowerShell tool.
Right-click on the Start button to open the Windows Power User context menu.
Click on Windows PowerShell or Windows PowerShell (Admin) to launch the terminal app.
Copy and paste this command inside the terminal and hit Enter:
Start-Process excel -ArgumentList "/safemode"
A blank Excel workbook shall open in safe mode.
Excel Safe Mode From the Task Manager
Suppose, there are multiple Excel workbooks open on your PC and you need to troubleshoot the app. Alternatively, the Excel app is stuck on an error message and won’t close. In such situations, you can use the Windows Task Manager tool to end the unresponsive Excel app and launch it in safe mode.
Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to launch the Task Manager dialog.
There, find the active process for Excel under the Processes column header.
Right-click on the app icon and choose the End task to close all open instances of Microsoft Excel.
Now, click the File menu on Task Manager and choose Run new task option.
The Create new task dialog will pop open. Inside the Open field, copy and paste the following command. Hit Enter to execute.
A blank Excel workbook will open in safe mode.
Create a Desktop Shortcut for Excel Safe Mode
Do you often need to run Excel in safe mode and don’t want to go through a multi-step process? Then, you can create a desktop shortcut to open Excel in safe mode.
Create a desktop shortcut for Excel. You can do it easily by dragging and dropping the Excel icon from the Start menu to Windows Desktop.
Now, right-click on the Excel shortcut and choose Properties from the context menu.
On the Excel Properties dialog that opens, go to the Shortcut tab and select all the content inside the Target field.
Press End to go to the end of the address in the Target field. Then, put a space and type
/safe. Click the Apply button and press OK to close the dialog box.
Now, double-click the shortcut to open Excel safe mode.
So, these are all the possible methods to open Excel in safe mode. Try the method that suits your expertise and Windows user levels.
If the article helped you fix your Excel desktop app by accessing safe mode, don’t forget to comment below. Also, if you know another cool method for Excel safe mode, let other readers know by adding the steps in your comment.