Excel Tutorial: How To Make Excel Not Calculate Automatically


Have you ever found yourself frustrated when working in Excel and the calculations are happening automatically? Automatic calculation in Excel can be a handy feature, but there are times when you may want to disable this function to focus on specific tasks. In this tutorial, we will discuss how to turn off automatic calculation in Excel, and the importance of doing so for certain tasks.

Key Takeaways

  • Disabling automatic calculation in Excel can be beneficial for focusing on specific tasks that require manual input.
  • Accessing the Excel options menu allows users to change the calculation setting from automatic to manual.
  • Manual calculation mode can be used effectively by recalculating the sheet when needed and understanding its impact on large datasets.
  • Advantages of manual calculation include preventing unnecessary recalculations and improving performance with complex formulas.
  • Exploring other Excel features can further enhance productivity and efficiency in tasks.

How to access the Excel options menu

When working in Excel, it can be helpful to customize the settings to suit your specific needs. One common adjustment is to change the calculation options so that Excel does not automatically calculate formulas when you make changes to the spreadsheet. In order to access these options, you will need to navigate to the Excel Options menu.

A. Opening the File tab
  • Click on the File tab in the top left corner of the Excel window.
  • A menu will appear on the left-hand side of the screen.

B. Selecting Options
  • At the bottom of the menu, you will see a list of options.
  • Click on the Options button.
  • This will open the Excel Options dialog box, where you can make various customizations to the program.

Changing the calculation setting

When working with Excel, there may be instances where you want to prevent the spreadsheet from automatically recalculating the data. This can be particularly useful when working with large datasets or complex formulas. The good news is that Excel provides an option to change the calculation setting to manual, allowing you to control when the calculations are performed.

A. Navigating to the Formulas tab

To change the calculation setting in Excel, start by navigating to the Formulas tab. This can be found at the top of the Excel window, alongside other tabs such as Home, Insert, and Data.

B. Selecting Manual in the Calculation options

Once you are on the Formulas tab, look for the Calculation options section. Here, you will find a dropdown menu with different calculation options. By default, Excel is set to "Automatic," which means that it will recalculate formulas and data whenever changes are made. To change this setting to manual, simply select "Manual" from the dropdown menu.

Applying the changes

After making the necessary changes to the calculation settings in Excel, it's important to apply the changes correctly in order to ensure that the new calculation mode is activated.

A. Clicking OK to save the new setting

Once you have adjusted the calculation settings in Excel to make it not calculate automatically, the next step is to click on the "OK" button to save the new setting. This will apply the changes and ensure that Excel no longer automatically calculates formulas and functions as you input them.

B. Testing the new calculation mode

After saving the new setting, it's important to test the new calculation mode to ensure that it is working as intended. You can do this by entering formulas and functions into the cells and observing whether Excel automatically calculates them or not. By testing the new calculation mode, you can verify that the changes have been successfully applied and that Excel is now functioning in the desired mode.

Using manual calculation effectively

When working with Excel, there may be times when you want to disable the automatic calculation feature in order to have more control over when your formulas are recalculated. Here's how to effectively use manual calculation in Excel.

A. Recalculating the sheet when needed

By default, Excel automatically recalculates formulas and functions whenever a change is made in the worksheet. This can be useful for real-time updates, but it can also slow down your workbook, especially with large datasets. To manually recalculate the sheet, go to the "Formulas" tab and click on "Calculate Now" or "Calculate Sheet." This allows you to update your calculations only when necessary, saving time and resources.

B. Understanding the impact on large datasets

For larger datasets, automatic calculation can significantly impact performance and may slow down your workbook. By switching to manual calculation, you can improve the responsiveness of Excel and prevent unnecessary recalculations. Keep in mind that manual calculation requires you to manually update the formulas whenever changes are made, so it's important to strike a balance between efficiency and accuracy.

Advantages of Manual Calculation

When working with Excel, manual calculation can offer several advantages, particularly in preventing unnecessary recalculations and improving performance with complex formulas.

Preventing Unnecessary Recalculations

  • By setting Excel to manual calculation mode, you can prevent the software from automatically recalculating formulas every time a change is made. This can be especially useful when working with large datasets or complex formulas, as it allows you to control when the calculations are performed.

  • Manual calculation mode can also help to reduce the overall processing time, as Excel won’t constantly re-evaluate the formulas as you make changes to the spreadsheet. This can be particularly beneficial when working with slow or outdated computer systems.

Improving Performance with Complex Formulas

  • For spreadsheets containing complex formulas or a large number of calculations, manual calculation mode can significantly improve performance. By allowing you to control when the calculations are performed, you can ensure that Excel only processes the formulas when necessary, reducing the overall processing time.

  • This can be particularly helpful when working with financial models, statistical analysis, or other data-intensive tasks, as it allows you to maintain control over the calculations and optimize the performance of the spreadsheet.


In conclusion, if you want to stop Excel from calculating automatically, simply go to the Formulas tab, click on Calculation Options, and select Manual. This will give you control over when the calculations are performed, allowing you to make changes without the fear of the numbers automatically updating. Remember to change it back to Automatic when you want Excel to recalculate again.

Now that you’ve mastered this Excel feature, I encourage you to explore other Excel features that can help improve your productivity and efficiency. Whether it’s creating pivot tables, using conditional formatting, or utilizing data validation, there are numerous tools and functions in Excel waiting to be explored.

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