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.

  • 2
    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
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    I really HATE this behavior! Useless s*. The programmer(s) who did it is an i.. not smart. – Pedro77 Jul 23 '14 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 ReinstateMonicaCellio Nov 20 '14 at 2:18
  • Excel considers it a change if the selected cell changes That is extremely painful that changing the location of the selected cell is considered a change in the spreadsheet. It makes me nervous that I accidently changed some value that I did not want to change and then I don't know if I want to save or not many times. – drescherjm Feb 2 at 19:19

10 Answers 10


Copying from here:

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.


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..?


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

  • 6
    "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
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    I guess MS will get less complaints if they explain why the file was changed without user interaction while closing – phuclv Apr 15 '17 at 6:11

I was experiencing this problem on a Windows 7 PC and using Microsoft Office 2007.

I also have the MySQL 5.6 database server software on this PC.

While investigating the problem, I found that I had installed the MySQL for Excel 1.3.4 component and that this resulted in a "MySQL for Excel" add-in showing up in Excel.

Because I wasn't actually using this component, I went to the MySQL Installer and removed it. After doing so, I found that the "Do you wish to save ..." prompts stopped appearing (i.e. if I merely viewed a spreadsheet without modifying it).

Hope this helps...

  • this also happened to me with Excel 2010 – betatester07 Feb 25 '16 at 22:29
  • anyway, any add-in can cause this so it is worth to check for all loaded add-ins – betatester07 Feb 25 '16 at 22:30

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.

  • 2
    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 ReinstateMonicaCellio May 22 '14 at 4:16

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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    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

File > Option > Formula > Automatic

Change to

File > Option > Formula > Manual


Formulas > Calculation Options > Automatic to Manual


There are two answers that I use to kill the request to save, both have been covered but bear repeating:

  1. For an older version xls or xlsx file, Save as xlsx and over-write the file. This almost always kills it with files I get from others.

  2. In Formulas, Calculation Options, set to Manual. This worked on a large file of mine with about 50 tabs, when finding out which tab was causing the problem was too much trouble. Thanks to whoever above suggested this as it has been annoying me for 5 years! I would have commented and thanked you but apparently I do not have enough brownie points to do this.


I had this problem, turned out there was some vba in the "worksheet" in the vba editor. Removed the code from there and then worked like a charm.

  • This does not answer the author's question in enough detail – Ramhound Feb 9 '17 at 15:50

In my case, I had a data1.xlsx (Excel workbook format). I Opened it, file/save as data1.xls (excel 97-2003 format) (Not .xlsx). and the problem went away. I also have the mysql addin and did not have to remove/uninstall it. I use excel 2007.


I had a similar issue. In my case, I had PivotTables in the workbook that had the "Refresh data when opening the file" option active, which was the default option when I created the PivotTables in the first place. Unchecking that option for each PivotTable solved the issue. Perhaps this will help. See the following PivotTable Options image.

PivotTable Options

  • 1
    You should also mention how the OP would refresh his sheet after disabling that option. – Burgi May 10 '17 at 8:00

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