FIX: Excel Online is not working and won’t open files
“For some reason Excel Online stopped working. What is causing this problem and how can I fix it?”
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.
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.
This article looks at solutions that you can try as troubleshooting Excel Online not working or not opening your files.
FIX: Excel Online not working/not opening files
- Reset browser and clear cache
- Try a different browser
- Try Two-Step Verification
- Set Default File opening behaviour
- Download file and resave to drive
- Check the size of your file
1. Reset the browser and clear cache
Among the things you can do when Excel Online is not working or not opening files is resetting your browser, and/or clearing the cache. If you’re using Internet Explorer, you can reset its settings to restore them to an earlier state they were when the browser was first installed on your computer. This helps troubleshooting issues that arise from settings changed after installation.
Note: Resetting Internet Explorer is not a reversible process, as all previous settings will be lost.
To do this:
- Start Internet Explorer
- Go to Tools menu (if you don’t see it, tap ALT on your keyboard)
- Click Internet options
- Click Advanced tab in the Internet Options window
- Click Reset or Restore Default (for IE 6)
- Under Reset Internet Explorer Settings dialog box, click Reset. A confirmation dialog box will open to confirm if you really want to reset IE
- Select Delete personal settings box if you want to clear browser history, search providers, home pages, tracking protection, accelerators, and ActiveX Filtering data as well.
- Click Close once Internet Explorer completes application of default settings
- Exit then restart Internet Explorer
Note: If you’re still unable to reset and it gives you an error message when trying, check that all visible windows and running processes are closed as some may not be visible. You can restart your PC, launch Internet Explorer and try resetting again. If you cannot launch IE, open Settings window using Windows Key+R to open the Run command, type inetcpl.cpl and press Enter. Once the window is open, follow the steps above to reset IE again.
2. Try a different browser
If the browser you’re using seems to cause Excel not working or not opening files problems, try another browser. For example if you’re using Internet Explorer, you can try Firefox, or Chrome, or any other browser you like, and see if the issue is with your current browser.
3. Try Two-Step Verification
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.
To turn it on or off, do the following:
- Go to Microsoft.com and open the Security basics page
- Sign in with your Microsoft account
- Click More security options
- Go to Two-Step verification
- Choose Set up two-step verification to turn it on. To turn it off, choose Turn off two-step verification
- Follow the on-screen instructions to finish the process
4. Set Default File opening behaviour
If Excel Online is not opening files on SharePoint’s site library, check if you have set the default open behaviour for the document library. To do this:
- Go to the document library page that the Excel files are stored
- Click Library tab
- Under Settings group, select Library settings
- Go to Document Library settings page
- Choose Advanced settings
- Under Advanced settings, find Opening document in the browser
- Select Open in the browser
- 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:
- Login with an admin account
- Go to the library
- Click library
- Click library permission
- Verify the permission showing for the user who is experiencing the problem with Excel Online
Once you verify the user permissions, try the steps to set default open behavior again.
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.
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.
In order to clean up an Excel workbook so it can use less memory, check the formatting considerations which cause the workbooks to become large such that they don’t open or work properly, and Excel Online hangs or crashes eventually. To do this:
- Eliminate excessive formatting by using the format cleaner add-in. the Clean Excess Cell formatting command is available on the Inquire tab: File>Options>Add-in>Manage box>Select COM Add-ins>Go. Backup your file before doing this process as sometimes it can make your file larger and you cannot undo it. remove excess formatting by going to Inquire tab>Clean Excess Cell formatting then choose either to clean only the active worksheet or all worksheets, and click Yes to save changes or No to cancel. This process removes cells from the worksheet that come beyond the last cell that has an entry.
- Remove unused styles. Styles make a file larger and may cause many different cell formats error in Excel Online when you save in older file versions. You can use a style cleaner tool to remove the unused styles.
- Remove shapes. Adding many shapes requires more memory, and this can be charts, clip art, SmartArt, WordArt, pictures, or comments, among others. These can be copied and are hidden or sitting on each other. To check for shapes, click Find and Select>Selection Pane>The Shapes on this Sheet, then remove any unwanted shapes. Do the same for each worksheet.
- Remove conditional formatting. This happens when the file’s conditional formatting is corrupted, but you can remove it by clicking conditional formatting on the home ribbon, clear rules for the whole file, then do the same for each worksheet and save the workbook using a different name.
Did any of these solutions help? Let us know in the comments section below.
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