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A client sent me some Excel .xlsx documents, and every time I open one of them and then close it, Excel asks if I would like to save changes, even if I didn't make any. This doesn't happen with any of my other Excel files. What is going on?

The files have no macros. I use Excel 2007.

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Are you selecting any of the cells within the document while it's open? Are there any macros that might be running on start? Excel considers it a change if the selected cell changes. –  dangowans Sep 17 '12 at 21:58
    
I really HATE this behavior! Useless s*. The programmer(s) who did it is an i.. not smart. –  Pedro77 Jul 23 at 12:44
    
Did you find anything here worth accepting? It is always good for all SU users to have feedback from the OP posted. If you found the "culprit", it would also convey interesting feedback. –  sancho.s Nov 20 at 2:18

4 Answers 4

Copying from http://support.microsoft.com/kb/274500 (it is worth reading the whole KB article):

"This behavior occurs when something in the file has changed. Many times the user doesn't realize there are elements in the file that have been updated or calculated. Here are some examples of common scenarios:

  • There is a volatile function used in the file. Examples of volatile formulas are listed in the more information section of this article.
  • The file has been opened in a newer version and formulas have been calculated. See article in the more information section.
  • A formula that contains a link to a formula in another workbook and that uses volatile functions.
  • Linked pictures.
  • Iterative formulas.
  • Charts that are on chart sheets or that are embedded into worksheets but that have their source data in another workbook.
  • VBA code that updates the workbook."

This list contains the cases mentioned in other answers as possibilities, and some others as well.

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One possibility is that the .xlsx file contains external links in at least one cell. Eg

Workbook with external link

Normally if you open this file you will be prompted with...

enter image description here

However, there is an annoying setting that throws people off in DATA/EDIT LINKS/START UP PROMPT/Dont display the alert and update links which overrides this prompt

enter image description here

Unfortunately, when you close the workbook you still get the prompt to save which will update the links.

enter image description here

This is one possible clue..?

EDIT:

Another possibility is the .xlsx contains a date formula such as NOW() or TODAY() which will prompt a save upon closing

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3  
"Another possibility is the .xlsx contains a date formula such as NOW() or TODAY()" -- Indeed, any volatile formulae in the xslx will cause this behavior. –  andy holaday Aug 23 '12 at 2:25

It's likely that the .xlsx file was recalculated automatically when you opened it in Excel. Go to the Data tab to turn off automatic recalculation.

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3  
Automatic calculation is an unlikely culprit. A workbook with only non-volatile formulae will not prompt to save changes when none were made, even if automatic calculation is on. OTOH a workbook with volatile formulae will prompt to save changes unless automatic calculation is off. The more likely cause is the workbook contains volatile formulae. –  andy holaday Aug 23 '12 at 2:34

None of the reasons anyone gave in any forum was the reason I was seeing this issue. I painstakingly moved little pieces from one workbook to another until the culprit revealed itself.

Someone had cut and pasted text into a sheet. The problem was that the text ended up as a floating shape with text in it, instead of going into a cell.

They are easy to see once you know they are there. Select all rows (so they appear with a light blue background). Then the labels or pictures or whatever, will stick out like white blocks. At least that is how it appeared for me. Your mileage may vary.

This ends a long and frustrating battle with excel.

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1  
I have created an empty worksheet, inserted a TextBox, saved, closed. Opening and closing again does not ask for saving. It would then be interesting to know what kind of object is your "floating shape with text in it". You could do that by: 1) Selecting the object, 2) Alt+F11 (to bring the VBA editor), 3) In the immediate window type ? TypeName(Selection)+<kbd>Enter</kbd>. –  sancho.s May 22 at 4:16

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