FIX: Excel Online is not working and won’t open files

Milan Stanojevic
by Milan Stanojevic
Deputy Editor
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  • Microsoft Excel is one of the most used tool in the Microsoft Office suite.
  • The article below will show you how to solve Microsoft Excel Online not working.
  • Bookmark our Software section for more guides and related articles.
  • For more information on the topic, visit our How To page.
excel online is not working

Excel Online not working or not opening files is a common problem among Windows 10  users, but it has general workarounds that can resolve it.

However, for more specific issues, one would have to state the exact error they receive when working with the program.

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Sometimes the issue appears if someone edits a workbook in Excel Online, and then leaves the document open, without making any additional changes for up to 6 hours.

Here are a few elements that may cause Excel Online not to open files or open too slowly:

  • Worksheet protection. If you remove this, it may not be the best option as it helps prevent others from editing certain cells that may or may not contain formulas
  • Defined names. You may not remove these, because they’re used for data validation and Excel Web Access web part uses it
  • Vlookup formulas. These can break the calculation chain, so leave it as is
  • Styles: Many times, Excel Online users have many cell styles, which together with other elements in the workbook can cause the load time to be slower, thus Excel Online may not work or open files.

This article looks at solutions that you can try for if your Excel Online is not working or not opening your files.

Quick tip:

Before moving forward with our troubleshooting suggestions, we’d recommend you give WPS Office a try. It is a great free alternative for using Excel Online.

WPS Office allows you to synchronize your documents at any moment and any change you will make on your devices will be applied automatically.

Moreover, WPS Office is suitable for Windows, Mac, Android, Linux, and IOs. You can perform any type of editing and open all types of Word, Excel, and PDF documents, all in just one place.

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How can I fix Excel Online not working/not opening files?

  1. Use Opera
  2. Reset browser and clear cache
  3. Try a different browser
  4. Try Two-Step verification
  5. Set Default File opening behavior
  6. Download file and resave to drive
  7. Check the size of your file

1. Use Opera

If you keep on having issues with your browser when opening Excel Online then it may be a good option to use a different browser. In that matter, we recommend you switch to Opera.

It’s a great error-free browser that comes with amazing features that not only allow you to customize it based on your needs but it will also help you save a lot of time.

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It’s fast, reliable and puts great emphasis on your online security. The free VPN and built-in adblocker will keep you safe and protected. Your browsing will be much faster due to the adblocker that will keep unwanted ads away from you.

The Workspace feature, Integrated messenger for social media, Search tab, and bookmarks management are great tools that come in handy especially when you have a lot of tabs opened.

Opera

Opera

If you want a reliable browser, fast connection with a flexible and easy to customize interface then this is your best choice!

2. Reset the browser and clear cache

  1. Start Internet Explorer.
  2. Go to Tools menu.
  3. Click Internet options.
  4. Next, click the Advanced tab.
  5. Click Reset or Restore Default.
  6. Under Reset Internet Explorer Settings dialog box, click Reset.
  7. Select Delete personal settings.
  8. Click Close and exit.
  9. Restart Internet Explorer

3. Try Two-Step Verification

how to sign in in microsoft 365

Two-step verification protects you by making it hard for anyone else to log in to your Microsoft account, by using two identification methods including your password, and a contact or security information.

Whether someone else gets your password, they won’t be able to access your account without your security information, which is why it is important to have different passwords on all your accounts.

To set up this two-step verification, you will get a security code sent to your email, or an SMS via phone, or an authenticator app each time you log in on a device that is not trusted.

When this is off, you only need to verify your identity using the codes at different times, which is risky to your account.


4. Set Default File opening behavior

  1. Go to the document library page that the Excel files are stored.
  2. Click the Library tab.
  3. Under the Settings group, select Library settings.
  4. Go to the Document Library settings page.
  5. Choose Advanced settings.
  6. Under Advanced settings, find the Opening document in the browser.
  7. Select Open in the browser.
  8. Click OK.

Note: If you cannot find the Library tab or it is grayed out, ask your admin to check the library permission for you. To do this:

  1. Login with an admin account.
  2. Go to the library.
  3. Click library.
  4. Click library permission.
  5. Verify the permission showing for the user who is experiencing the problem with Excel Online

5. Download file and re-save to drive

If Excel Online is not working or not opening files, download the file and try to open it using the Excel desktop application.

If this helps, save the file again, and upload it to OneDrive and see if it helps fix the problem.

You can also ensure that you close all documents as you finish using them to avoid such issues happening again and ask anyone you share the documents with to do the same.


6. Check the size of your file

If you’re working with a large file, it is a potential complication on Excel Online as it may not be supported, or it will take too long to open, which may cause Excel Online not to work or to open files.

Usually, five to ten seconds in, your file will fully open and/or calculate in Excel when you download it, and this may be too complex for Excel Online to handle.

You’d have to make the file smaller or less complex, then it will open in Excel Online. Depending on your calculation needs, you can get the file to open by changing the calculation method to manual.

Did any of these solutions help? Let us know in the comments section below.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2018 and has been since revamped and updated in August 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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