How to Open Excel in Safe Mode

- Written by Puneet


Safe Mode in Excel allows you to start Excel without using some startup programs. It can be beneficial when you need to troubleshoot problems in Excel, such as issues with add-ins or corrupt files.

Starting Excel in Safe Mode bypasses functionality and settings like the alternate startup location, changed toolbars, the xlstart folder, and Excel add-ins.


In this tutorial, we are going to learn all the method which are available to open Excel Application in a Safe Mode.

Steps to Open Excel in Safe Mode

Starting Excel in Safe Mode using the Ctrl key is a quick way. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. First, press and hold the Ctrl key.
  2. Now, while holding the Ctrl Key, double-click on the Excel file that you want to open in safe mode.
  3. From here, you’ll get a message from Excel, if you want to open it in safe mode or not.
  4. In the end, you will have Excel opened in Safe Mode, just like below.

When you open Excel in the safe mode, as I said, it restricts a lot of options that you have in Excel in the normal mode.

Open Excel in the Safe Mode using Command Mode

To open Excel in Safe Mode using the Command Prompt, follow these simple steps:

  1. First, open the Windows search bar and type “run”, and click on the run to open the “Run” application.
  2. You can also use a keyboard shortcut, Window + R to open “Run”.
  3. Now, in the “Open” input bar, enter “excel /safe”.
  4. The moment you click OK, it will open Excel in safe mode.

This command tells your computer to start Excel without extras like add-ins or customized settings, which helps if Excel is not working correctly.

Create a Specific Excel Icon to Open it in the Safe Mode

Creating a desktop shortcut (icon) specifically for opening Excel in Safe Mode is handy, especially if you frequently need to troubleshoot or if you prefer having quick access to this mode.

Here are the steps to create a desktop shortcut to open Excel in Safe Mode on a Windows system:

  1. First, go to the Excel application from your start menu, right-click, and open the file location.
  2. Now, in the file location, you will find an Icon for the Excel application.
  3. Copy this icon and paste it on your Desktop.
  4. Now, right-click on the icon and click on properties.
  5. From here, in the properties, go to the Shortcut Tab, and click on the “Target” Input Bar.
  6. Now, without changing any value go to the end of the value and enter “safe”.
  7. And, from the general tab, you can also change the name for your reference.
  8. In the end, click OK.

Now you have an icon on your desktop which you can use to open Excel in safe mode whenever you want.


Safe Mode in Excel Mac

If you are using a Mac, starting Excel in Safe Mode is different from starting it in Windows, as there isn’t a direct command or shortcut to launch applications in Safe Mode. But, you can troubleshoot Excel on a Mac using similar steps by disabling add-ins and customizations manually.

Go to Tools > Excel Add-ins. Then Uncheck all the boxes to disable all the add-ins. Restart your workbook to see if performance improves without these add-ins.

Excel preferences can sometimes become corrupt. To reset them, remove the Excel preference file. Close Excel and go to ~/Library/Preferences/. Find the file named something like and either delete it or move it to another location. Restart Excel and watch as it creates a new preference file with default settings.

When You Open Excel in Safe Mode

When you start Excel in Safe Mode, many of the usual features and settings are turned off to help you troubleshoot issues. However, this mode comes with several limitations that can impact how you usually use Excel:

  • Disabled Add-ins: Excel does not load add-ins while in Safe Mode, including both COM add-ins and Excel add-ins.
  • Limited Customization: Any settings, such as custom toolbars and macros, are not loaded. This means you won’t have access to custom shortcuts or automated codes.
  • No Automatic Save: Excel’s AutoSave and AutoRecover features are disabled in Safe Mode. If Excel crashes or if there is a power outage, any unsaved work will be lost.

Exit the Safe Mode in Excel

Click the close ‘X’ at the top-right corner of the Excel window to close it. If you have unsaved work, Excel will ask if you want to save it.

After closing, open Excel again normally by clicking its icon or from the start menu. Excel will start in its regular mode with all features and settings back to normal.

As an Excel enthusiast, once you learn to open Excel in safe mode, make sure to learn about clearing the Excel cache, sometimes while troubleshooting for slow workbooks you can clear the cache. You can also clear formatting from the workbook; sometimes, having a lot of formatting makes a workbook slow.

Last Updated: May 10, 2024