Microsoft Excel Fast Fixes

Recover corrupted spreadsheets, fix performance problems and cure printing headaches

If a spreadsheet stops opening properly – or even at all – launch Excel and click File, then Open (or File, Open, Computer, then Browse in Excel 2013). Locate the problematic spreadsheet file and click it, but instead of clicking Open, click the down arrow next to the Open button and select ‘Open and Repair’, then click Repair when prompted. With any luck the file will open and you’ll see a message showing a link to a log file with more details about the repair. If this doesn’t work, try the instructions above again, but this time choose the Extract Data option when prompted, then select ‘Convert to Values’. Bear in mind that some data may be missing. Save the recovered file with a new name.

Crashes and startup errors are often a sign there’s a problem with your Microsoft Office installation. Click Start (or rightclick it in Windows 10), then Control Panel. Click ‘Uninstall a program’, then scroll down and click Microsoft Office. Click the Change button above it, then click Repair when prompted and follow the remaining steps.

If this doesn’t work, try uninstalling Office then reinstalling it again from scratch. If you’re getting a ‘not enough memory’ error, try disabling add-ins (Office-speak for add-ons).

Performance problems are sometimes caused by add-ins. If Excel is really unresponsive or unstable, try launching it in safe mode – hold Ctrl down, then double-click Excel’s shortcut icon and click Yes when you see the message. Then click File, Options, Add-Ins. Next to Manage at the bottom, select each type of add-in in turn, and untick all the add-ins listed in each case. Restart Excel, then repeat the process to re-enable any add-ins you use one at a time until the problem happens again, this way you’ll identify which add-in is causing the problem. Disable it permanently.

Excel 2013 can suffer from other performance problems, including a freezing or ‘stuttering’ mouse cursor and a slow response when you type.

First try clicking File, Options, Advanced, then Display and selecting the ‘Disable hardware graphics acceleration’ option. If that doesn’t solve the problem, click Start, right-click Computer (or File Explorer in Windows 10) and select Properties. In the window that opens, click ‘Advanced system settings’ on the left. In the new window, click the Advanced tab, then Settings button under Performance. Another window will open – here, click the Visual Effects tab, then untick ‘Animate controls and elements inside windows’ and click OK.

It’s easy to end up with seemingly random bits of your spreadsheet printed over dozens of sheets of paper. The fix for this is to specify exactly how your spreadsheet should fit the page. Click the Page Layout tab, then click the down arrow in the bottom right of the Page Setup tools. In the dialogue box that opens, choose either Portrait or Landscape, depending on how wide your document is. Next, tick the ‘Fit to’ option and select how many pages wide or tall you want – leave them both as ‘1’ to fit the entire spreadsheet on one page, but bear in mind that this may shrink the page so much that it becomes unreadable. Click Print

Preview at the bottom to see what your print-out will look like.

Check there are no hidden rows or columns with values that could be affecting the total. Othe Home tab click Format, Hide & Unhide, and select Unhide Rows, then Unhide Columns to reveal any values that might be lurking invisibly.

Alternatively, if you set the Calculation Options to Manual, as described earlier, this will prevent AutoSum from automatically calculating the total correctly. Click the Formulas tab, then click Calculation Options and select Automatic, then try again.

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