Starting in Safe Mode in Excel


Starting Excel in Safe Mode can be a lifesaver when dealing with technical issues or troubleshooting problems in the popular spreadsheet software. Whether you're experiencing crashes, add-in conflicts, or performance issues, knowing how to start Excel in Safe Mode is crucial. In this blog post, we'll explore what Safe Mode is in Excel, why it's essential to be familiar with this feature, and the benefits it offers in resolving Excel-related challenges.

Key Takeaways

  • Starting Excel in Safe Mode is essential for troubleshooting technical issues and resolving Excel-related challenges.
  • Safe Mode in Excel has limited functionality and disables add-ins, but it helps isolate problematic elements and provides temporary solutions.
  • There are multiple methods to start Excel in Safe Mode, including using the Excel shortcut, the "Run" dialog box, and the command prompt.
  • When working in Excel Safe Mode, it is important to save your work regularly, avoid unnecessary add-ins, and be aware of any error messages or issues encountered.
  • Exiting Excel Safe Mode can be done by closing Excel normally or restarting your computer.

Reasons to Start Excel in Safe Mode

Excel is a powerful tool that provides users with a multitude of functionalities for data analysis, financial modeling, and more. However, sometimes Excel can encounter issues or errors that hinder its performance. In such cases, starting Excel in safe mode can be a useful troubleshooting technique. Here are some reasons why you might want to start Excel in safe mode:

Troubleshooting Excel Issues

If you're facing unexpected behavior or functionality problems in Excel, starting it in safe mode can help troubleshoot the issue. Safe mode disables certain features and settings that may be causing conflicts, allowing you to identify and resolve the problem.

Isolating Problematic Add-ins or Macros

Add-ins and macros can enhance Excel's capabilities by providing additional functionalities. However, sometimes these add-ins or macros can cause conflicts or errors. By starting Excel in safe mode, you can isolate problematic add-ins or macros that may be causing issues and either disable or troubleshoot them.

Fixing Errors or Crashes in Excel

If Excel is crashing frequently or displaying error messages, starting it in safe mode can help resolve these issues. Safe mode allows Excel to run with minimal settings, which can help bypass any problematic configurations or settings causing the errors or crashes.

Recovering Unsaved or Corrupted Files

We've all experienced that dreadful moment when Excel crashes and we realize we haven't saved our work. Starting Excel in safe mode can sometimes help recover unsaved files. Additionally, if you suspect that a file has become corrupted, opening it in safe mode may allow you to recover the file's contents or identify and troubleshoot the cause of the corruption.

Starting Excel in safe mode is a useful technique for troubleshooting various issues, isolating problematic add-ins or macros, fixing errors or crashes, and recovering unsaved or corrupted files. By familiarizing yourself with this feature, you can efficiently address Excel-related problems and ensure smooth and uninterrupted work with this powerful software.

How to Start Excel in Safe Mode

When troubleshooting issues or trying to resolve conflicts in Microsoft Excel, starting the program in Safe Mode can help isolate the problem and provide a more stable environment for troubleshooting. Safe Mode disables certain features and add-ins that may be causing issues. Here are three methods you can use to start Excel in Safe Mode.

Method 1: Using the Excel shortcut

The easiest way to start Excel in Safe Mode is by using the program's shortcut. This method is recommended if you frequently need to open Excel in Safe Mode.


  • Locate the shortcut icon for Excel on your desktop or in the Start menu.
  • Hold down the Ctrl key on your keyboard and double-click the Excel shortcut. This will launch Excel in Safe Mode.
  • If prompted, click Yes to confirm that you want to open Excel in Safe Mode.

Method 2: Using the "Run" dialog box

If you don't have the Excel shortcut readily available, you can use the "Run" dialog box to start Excel in Safe Mode.


  • Press the Win key and R on your keyboard simultaneously to open the "Run" dialog box.
  • Type excel /safe into the text field and click OK. This will launch Excel in Safe Mode.
  • If prompted, click Yes to confirm that you want to open Excel in Safe Mode.

Method 3: Using the command prompt

If you prefer using the command prompt, you can also start Excel in Safe Mode using specific commands.


  • Press the Win key on your keyboard and type cmd into the search bar.
  • Right-click on the Command Prompt app and select Run as administrator.
  • In the command prompt window, type "excel.exe /safe" and press Enter. This will launch Excel in Safe Mode.
  • If prompted, click Yes to confirm that you want to open Excel in Safe Mode.

By using any of these three methods, you can start Microsoft Excel in Safe Mode to troubleshoot issues and resolve conflicts more effectively. Remember to exit Safe Mode and restart Excel normally after troubleshooting to ensure all features and add-ins are enabled.

What to Expect in Excel Safe Mode:

When starting Excel in Safe Mode, you can expect several changes and limitations that are important to be aware of. Safe Mode is designed to help troubleshoot and resolve issues with Excel, and therefore it may temporarily disable certain features and settings. Here is what you can expect when using Excel in Safe Mode:

Limited functionality and disabled add-ins

When running Excel in Safe Mode, you may experience limited functionality compared to the normal mode. Some features and options may be disabled or inaccessible while in Safe Mode. Additionally, any add-ins that are typically enabled in Excel may be temporarily disabled, as they could be contributing to the issues you are experiencing. This can help isolate the problem and determine if any particular add-in is causing conflicts.

Removal of customized settings and preferences

Excel Safe Mode resets many of your customized settings and preferences to their default values. This means that any changes you have made to Excel's user interface, options, or personalization settings may be restored to their original defaults. While this can be inconvenient, it allows you to start with a clean slate and eliminates any potential conflicts that may have arisen from customized settings.

Default workbook settings and layout

In Safe Mode, Excel opens with default workbook settings and layout. This means that any modifications you have made to the default settings, such as default font, column width, or page setup, will be reverted. The purpose of this is to ensure that any issues you were facing with your workbook layout or settings are not carried over to Safe Mode, allowing you to troubleshoot the problem more efficiently.

Temporary resolution of Excel issues

Excel Safe Mode serves as a temporary resolution for the issues you may be experiencing in the normal mode. By disabling add-ins, resetting preferences, and using default settings, Safe Mode helps identify and isolate the cause of the problem. It allows you to use Excel in a simplified state that can potentially bypass or fix the issues you were encountering. While Safe Mode is not a permanent solution, it can provide a valuable troubleshooting step in resolving Excel-related problems.

Tips for Working in Excel Safe Mode

Working in Safe Mode in Excel can be a helpful troubleshooting technique when encountering issues or errors. By starting Excel in Safe Mode, you can isolate problems and work around any potential conflicts. Here are some tips to keep in mind when working in Excel Safe Mode:

Save your work regularly

In Safe Mode, there is a chance that Excel may unexpectedly close or crash, so it is crucial to save your work frequently to avoid losing any important data or progress. By saving your work regularly, you can minimize the impact of any unexpected issues and ensure you have recent backups of your files.

Avoid enabling unnecessary add-ins

When starting Excel in Safe Mode, only essential add-ins and functionalities are loaded. It is important to refrain from enabling unnecessary add-ins during this mode as they might conflict with the troubleshooting process. By keeping add-ins disabled, you can focus on identifying and resolving any underlying issues more effectively.

Utilize the basic functionalities available

In Excel Safe Mode, some advanced features and functionalities may be temporarily disabled. While troubleshooting, it is recommended to stick to the basic functionalities offered in Safe Mode. Although this may seem limiting, it allows you to work within a simplified environment, making it easier to identify and address any problems you may be facing.

Keep track of any error messages or issues encountered

When working in Excel Safe Mode, it is important to take note of any error messages or issues encountered. Keeping track of these details can provide valuable insights to help troubleshoot problems efficiently. Documenting errors and providing specific information about the issues you faced will assist technical support or further investigations if needed.

Exiting Excel Safe Mode

After troubleshooting issues or making changes to the settings in Excel Safe Mode, it is important to exit this mode and return to the regular Excel environment. There are two main methods for exiting Excel Safe Mode:

Closing Excel normally

If you have finished working in Excel and no longer require Safe Mode, you can exit it by closing Excel normally. Follow these steps:

  • Step 1: Click on the "File" tab located in the top-left corner of the Excel window.
  • Step 2: In the drop-down menu that appears, click on "Exit" or "Close Excel".
  • Step 3: Excel will prompt you to save any unsaved changes in your workbook(s). Choose the appropriate option based on your preferences.
  • Step 4: Once you have saved or discarded any unsaved changes, Excel will close, and you will no longer be in Safe Mode.

Restarting your computer

In certain cases, simply closing Excel may not be enough to exit Safe Mode. If you encounter this situation, you can try restarting your computer to return to the regular Excel mode. Follow these steps:

  • Step 1: Save any unsaved work in Excel by clicking on the "File" tab and selecting "Save" or "Save As".
  • Step 2: Close Excel by clicking on the "File" tab and selecting "Exit" or "Close Excel".
  • Step 3: Click on the "Start" button in the bottom-left corner of your screen.
  • Step 4: Select the "Power" option and click on "Restart".
  • Step 5: Wait for your computer to restart and Windows to load.
  • Step 6: Open Excel, and it should launch in the regular mode, without entering Safe Mode.

By following these steps, you can safely exit Excel Safe Mode and return to the standard Excel environment to continue your work or troubleshoot any further issues. Remember to save your work before closing Excel or restarting your computer to avoid data loss.


In conclusion, starting Excel in Safe Mode can greatly benefit users in troubleshooting various issues. By running Excel in Safe Mode, users can identify and fix any problems caused by add-ins, customizations, or corrupted files. It provides a safe environment to diagnose and resolve issues without affecting other aspects of Excel or the system. We strongly encourage readers to utilize Safe Mode whenever they encounter any Excel-related problems for a smooth and hassle-free experience.

However, it is important to remember that Safe Mode is not a solution to all problems. Regular backups and proper maintenance of Excel files and settings are equally important. By regularly backing up your Excel files and maintaining a stable environment for Excel, you can minimize the chances of encountering issues, allowing you to work efficiently and without interruptions.

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