Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

When cutting/copying some cells to paste them into another sheet/page, sometimes Excel freezes/locks up and fades out. At the top toolbar it says in brackets "not responding".

Eventually, I must click 'X' to close the program. It offers to wait for the program to respond, but never does – it just does nothing until I finally close it, where it offers to recover files etc.

Is there an issue with memory here? What can I do to stop it locking up?

share|improve this question
How much data are you working with when this happens? Does it happen when you copy a small amount or a large amount or both? What sort of data are you copying? Only values or also formulas? Have you tried copying something that froze before piece-meal to see if it freezes in smaller chunks? How often does this happen? – Raystafarian Mar 5 '12 at 12:08
@barry which windows system is it? – Psycogeek Mar 5 '12 at 12:43
lot to say.. im running windows 7.... it happens generally with larger rather than smaller volumes.... sometimes with formulas sometimes without....and it happens a lot?? – Barry Mar 5 '12 at 15:54

10 Answers 10

I do not recall this exact problem but I have had similar problems on a number of occasions. Like you I had to abort Excel to clear the problem and it told several such failures before I identified the cause.

The cause was Excel waiting on a question about the operation I had requested which was hidden behind the main Window. I have since discovered that getting that hidden question to display can be difficult but is possible. I do not know why, on rare occasions, the question is not on top as it usually is.

Try looking for a hidden question next time this happens.

share|improve this answer
Thanks.. but where to look for 'hidden question'?? – Barry Mar 5 '12 at 11:54
I have not had this problem for a while and do not remember the details. You could try minaturising Excel but I doubt that would work because of the outstanding question. My recollection is that I would click "Show Desktop" which minaturised everything even if there was an outstanding question. Then, when I maximize Excel, the question would be displayed on top. Sorry, this is not more helpful but the true answer is that I clicked things until something happened. – Tony Dallimore Mar 5 '12 at 12:16
are there any macros in the sheet? Calculation is manual or automatic? – datatoo Mar 8 '12 at 23:50

I have had a similar problem on a new, plenty-fast i7 machine. Even with a trivial spreadsheet with half a dozen cells and one formula, Ctrl-C would freeze Excel for 20-30 seconds. I, however, would always get control back after that time. Turned out to be something to do with default printer. My default was a network printer that was offline. When I went to control panel and changed my default printer to CutePDF writer or something like that, copies became instantaneous as they should be.

share|improve this answer

I had this problem on a worksheet with no macros - it turned out to be conditional formatting. When I removed the conditional formatting from the whole worksheet all was working again. Then I added it back.

share|improve this answer

The easier way to display the background running question if it is a response/question popup is to right-click mouse at a clear section in the task bar and select Tile windows vertically rather than selecting Show Desktop to show all active windows.

share|improve this answer

Go to File \ Options. Select the "Advanced" tab. Go to the "Cut, copy, and paste" section. Uncheck "Show Paste Options button when content is pasted" and "Show Insert Options buttons"

share|improve this answer
Not sure why you had a -1 score, have an upvote. This fixed the issue I was having! To add to this, when Excel was freezing I ran process explorer and targeted the frozen window, it said that the window was dwm.exe instead of excel. Might have something to do with excel trying to display the paste options and dwm.exe. Might have been dwm.exe because the window was 'not responding', not sure. – qroberts May 8 at 14:25

In my situation I had an excel sheet with Conditional Formatting on some cells and for some reason this Conditional formatting was copied a couple of hundred times, probably when I copied the cell the custom formatting for the entire range of cells was copied as well.

I had to remove the Custom Formatting on hundreds of cells which took ages as you can't select multiple Rules when deleting them. So manually deleting one rule after the other, while every Delete takes a couple of seconds...well you get the point.

Anyway, my Excel sheet is quick again when the Conditional Formatting was reset to only a few Rules.

share|improve this answer

Got it, its all about the hidden question. I open some other excel file, and I did not click the "enable editing". this make freezes every time I copy some column. The problem solved when I click the "enable editing". how this help

share|improve this answer

Removing Office 2013 update KB3114717 did the trick for me. I found this after running the MS OffCAT tool for Office. CPU is back to normal and Excel doesn't freeze when doing copy/paste.

share|improve this answer

I have a spreadsheet of Corn prices that covers 20 years - 1000 worksheets. I also have some worksheets at the end showing the results (graphs, etc.) of various scenarios. From time to time I try different things and re-use existing columns on the price worksheets. All of a sudden when I hit ctrl+C (copy) it froze and I got a 'not responding'.

One of two things fixed it. I got rid of some of the summary worksheets - now if works. Either: I had hit some Excel limit as far as what it could handle but I don't think that is likely. What is more likely is my new use of one of the existing columns was an 'IF/THEN' code that returned a text answer rather than a numerical answer. I believe the freezing was due to one of the existing summary sheet items (graphs, etc.) expecting a number field and finding a text field.

share|improve this answer

For me it was a weird program, a virtual machine, that hooks into clipboard and monitors it. Closing that program solved the issue.

share|improve this answer

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .