Fix: Excel won’t Open

Microsoft Excel is one of the most popular spreadsheet editor out there in the Microsoft Office suite. It allows users to edit excel worksheets and CSV files on the go. However, there have been several instances where Microsoft Excel doesn’t open at all.

Microsoft Excel

Excel might fail at opening an existing worksheet from a network location or from the local directory. In some cases, the worksheet might appear working when opened online or through Excel preview but it may fail to open properly in the application. This behavior is very common in Microsoft Excel and is usually solved with simple workarounds.

Why won’t my Excel Sheet open?

The reasons why your Excel worksheet doesn’t open are quite a few and diverse with respect to the main modules. Some of the causes why Excel fails to open are but not limited to:

  • Excel installation files: The Excel installation files (Microsoft Office installation files) might be corrupt or have several modules missing.
  • Hidden file: The file you are trying to access is hidden away and open by you.
  • Accessing file online: There are several bottlenecks when trying to access the file from some other location rather than your local directory.

Before we move on with the solutions, make sure that you are logged in as an administrator and have an active open internet connection.

Solution 1: Repairing Office

In the majority of the cases, the reason why users are not able to open their excel sheet is because the installation files of Microsoft Office are either corrupt or have missing modules. If the installation itself isn’t complete or in a working state, you won’t be able to use individual programs such as Excel. We will try to repair the application through the application manager.

  1. Press Windows + R, type “appwiz.cpl” in the dialogue box and press Enter.
  2. Once in the application manager, locate the entry of Microsoft Office. Right-click it and select Change. If there is an option of Repair here, you can click it directly.
Changing Office Installation to Repair Office from Programs and Features
  1. Select the option of Repair from the following windows and press Continue.
Repairing Office installation
  1. Now follow the on-screen instructions and when the process is complete, restart your computer and check if you can open the Excel file easily.

Solution 2: Un-hiding the Worksheet

If you are experiencing a problem where you are able to see the excel file in preview but cannot open it for editing, it probably means that your sheet is hidden from view. Microsoft Excel has a feature where users are able to hide their sheets, rows, or columns from the workspace and from View. You should follow the steps below to unhide your sheet.

  1. Open your Workbook and stay on the blank page when it loads.
  2. Now click View from the tab present at the top and click Unhide from the navigation bar.
Unhide Excel Worksheet
  1. Your worksheet will now be unhidden and you can make changes and view it like any other worksheet. If you are hiding specific rows or columns from your sheet, you can click Format > Hide & Unhide > Unhide Rows/Columns
Unhiding Rows and Columns in Excel

Solution 3: Changing File Directory

There are quite some limitations if you are not opening/accessing the file from any location other than your local storage. These are put in place to manage the accessibility of the worksheets with other modules present. Here are issues because of which a lot of users face the issue of Excel not opening.

  • The file and path name is limited to 254 characters. If any of them exceed 254 characters, Excel will not be able to open the file.
  • If you are opening the file from the ‘Open’ tab in Excel, try opening the file through browsing. It seems that the paths listed there do not auto-update and keeps the old directory in their properties (if you have renamed or moved the file).

Because of these technicalities, it is recommended that you open the file from your local storage i.e. the file should be physically saved on your computer’s hard drive instead of network shares or on other modules.

Note: You can also try disabling the add-ins installed on your Excel. These are known to cause problems with launching sometimes.

Solution 4: Reinstalling Office Suite

If all the above methods don’t work, you can try reinstalling Microsoft Office suite completely. There are some loopholes which even the repair utility isn’t able to fix (as in Solution 1). Make sure that you have your product key at hand and your Microsoft account credentials as you will most probably be asked to enter them again later on.

  1. Press Windows + R, type “appwiz.cpl” in the dialogue box and press Enter.
  2. Once in the application manager, locate the entry of Microsoft Office. Right-click it and select Uninstall.
Uninstall Office
  1. Now insert the CD (if you have one) or download the latest version available from Microsoft’s official website.

Note: You should also make sure that you have the latest version Office and Windows installed on your computer. Make sure that you install all the security updates of Office Suite released through Windows update.

Kevin Arrows


Kevin is a dynamic and self-motivated information technology professional, with a Thorough knowledge of all facets pertaining to network infrastructure design, implementation and administration. Superior record of delivering simultaneous large-scale mission critical projects on time and under budget.

Expert Tip

Fix: Excel won’t Open

If the issue is with your Computer or a Laptop you should try using Reimage Plus which can scan the repositories and replace corrupt and missing files. This works in most cases, where the issue is originated due to a system corruption. You can download Reimage by clicking the Download button below.

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