I have a fast Windows 7 PC with two SSDs and 16GB of RAM, so I'm used to programs loading very fast. But recently, for no reason I can figure out, Excel has started taking way too long to open Excel files (of any size--even blank files). This is occurring with Excel 2010 and with Excel 2013 after I upgraded, hoping to solve the problem. Here a couple scenarios:

  • If I start Excel directly, it opens almost instantly. No problem there.
  • If I start Excel directly, and then open any Excel file (.xls or .xlsx), it loads almost instantly. Still no problem
  • BUT if I attempt to open any Excel file directly, with Excel not running, it consistently takes 10-11 seconds for Excel to start. I get no error messages, just a spinning cursor for 10-11 seconds, and then the file opens.

During the delay while Excel is trying to start, I'm not really seeing any discernible spike in CPU or memory usage, other than explorer.exe. This problem is only occurring with Excel, not Word or any other program I'm aware of.

I've searched around quite a bit on this question and found various others who have experienced it, but the solutions that worked for them are not working for me. For a few people it was a problem with scanning network drives, but my problem is purely with local files; I have no network drives, and the problem persists even with all network connections disabled.

Some people suggested worksheets with corrupted formulas or links, but I'm experiencing this with ANY Excel file: even blank worksheets.

Others thought it was a problem with add-ins, but I have all Excel add-ins disabled (as far as I can tell).

One person solved it by disabling a "clipboard manager" process that was running in the background, but I don't have that. I've disabled as many startup and background processes as I can, but the problem persists. I've run malware scans, disk cleanup, CCleaner, and installed Excel 2013. I've deleted temporary files, enabled SuperFetch, and edited registry keys. Still can't get rid of the problem. Any ideas?

My system details: Windows 7 Professional SP1 64-bit, Excel 2013 32-bit, 16GB RAM, all programs installed on SSD.

  • While you've provided a lot of information, you don't mention if you a) are opening files locally or through a network share and b) if you have password protected your files. If the latter, there's a known issue about protecting sheets and how long it takes to open: office.microsoft.com/en-us/access-help/… – JSanchez Feb 1 '14 at 0:38
  • You say you "Upgraded" to 2013. Have you tried a full uninstall and reinstall? Is this your home computer, or a work one (on a domain)? If you log in as another user, does it behave the same way? How about in Safe Mode? – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Feb 1 '14 at 0:54
  • @JSanchez I am opening the files locally. This happens even with all network connections disabled. And the files are not password-protected. I literally create a new, blank Excel file on my desktop, try to open it, and I get the 10-second delay. – jbkly Feb 1 '14 at 7:43
  • @techie007 Good questions. This evening I uninstalled Office, ran disk cleanup and a registry cleaner again, then reinstalled Office 2013 from scratch. Still getting the delay. This is my home computer, with only one user account (administrator). Then I rebooted into Safe Mode, and it got weirder: when I try to open any Excel file in Safe Mode, I get a Windows error: "There was a problem sending the command to the program." I'm going to investigate this further; not sure if it's related. – jbkly Feb 1 '14 at 7:54
  • @jbkly I also get this sometimes. Basically Excel first needs to load up itself before doing any work. This is what results in the delay. You would encounter this with Word and Powerpoint as well. Also you would do well to disable all addins, that would speed up things a bit. – Firee Feb 4 '14 at 14:34

10 Answers 10


I had the same situation with Excel 2010 - it took about 5 seconds to open any Excel file, while word and powerpoint files opening in .1 second. I performed some profiling tests using filemon (procmon from sysinternal) and found suspicious delay in EXPLORER's file operations. Not completely silent delay, by the way Last Explorer operation, related to execute xls file was:

11851 17:01:15,2083239 Explorer.EXE 19420 RegCloseKey HKCR\excel SUCCESS next

11855 17:01:15,8768465 Explorer.EXE 19420 QueryOpen C:\Program Files (x86)\PGP Corporation\PGP Desktop\PGPtray.exe FAST IO DISALLOWED

11875 17:01:17,8899033 Explorer.EXE 19420 QueryOpen C:\Program Files (x86)\PGP Corporation\PGP Desktop**PGPtray.exe** FAST IO DISALLOWED
and finally explorer resume opening XLS file:

11894 17:01:19,2073462 Explorer.EXE 19420 RegOpenKey HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\App Paths\EXCEL.EXE NAME NOT FOUND Desired Access: Read

it is exactly 4 seconds spent on something unknown. So i closed PGPtray.exe and xls files started to open in .1 sec.

I suggest you to perform same steps and try to find whichapplication (if any) are have caused this delay.

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  • Any details on how exactly to perform this process? – dangel Jul 18 '16 at 15:55

resiliency/document recovery: Using Sysinternal's Process Monitor, I found that Excel 2013 went through thousands of old entries which the Autorecovery function had left in the registry whenever Excel had crashed in previous months. The crashes had probably been caused by a number of commercial add-ins. The Excel start-up remained slow even after deactivating all add-ins and in safe mode. CCleaner had not removed those registry relicts. After deleting them manually, Excel launches within 2 seconds. Delete the registry key Document Recovery to get rid of those relicts: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\1x.x\Common\Resiliency

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I performed some profiling tests using filemon (procmon from sysinternal) just as described in other comment in this thread and discovered the following: Result = "BAD NETWORK PATH"

The bad network path was a reference in registry to a computer name (i.e.,\ops-49626...) that was no longer used. So in regedit I searched for all instances of this computer name and carefully removed it ensuring the change would not cause an issue to an application still used.

The only way I discovered this was to use control + E to stop and start and control + X to start fresh. Then save the log as comma-delimited to open and sort in Excel.

Selecting an Excel file in Windows Explorer is no longer delayed and Excel files now open in a flash !!!

Hope this helps.

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I wrote out the answer below, but on second thought, I think there may be an issue with shell extensions -- addons that "attach" onto Windows and add additional abilities.

I suggest first trying this -- using the free software below, sort the entries by company name, then select all non-Microsoft entries, right-click and disable, reboot, then try Excel again. I'd wager there's a pretty good chance the problem will have disappeared.

Shell Extensions Manager (http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/shexview.html)

Given your description of when the problem appears, it sounds like there may be a problematic, malfunctioning, or even "rogue" extension that is getting between you and Excel opening. It could be something as simple as antivirus, which is often the cause of these sort of problems (A/V getting hung up trying to scan something before letting the file open, delaying a program's opening). In fact, this may likely be the issue.

Once you've disabled all non-Microsoft extensions, rebooted (important!), then tried again, you'll be able to quickly see if it's an extension problem. If Excel snaps open when double-clicking a file in Windows, then it's an extension problem, and the way to narrow down the culprit is to selectively re-enable "half" at a time, narrowing down to the culprit.

If the problem exists, then try my original answer below. And to add to that answer below, Excel.exe may not be the source of the problem. You may have to also add an additional filter for "explorer.exe" which is essentially the Windows executable that functions as the "automobile" to navigating around and opening your files/programs. It could be the culprit that's causing the slowness, and possibly other programs, too -- like antivirus! Try completely disabling/exiting/turning off all types of antvirus and malware programs from the start, too.

Process Monitor!


A free utility that shows all the behind-the-scenes actions of any/all running programs.

I suggest running Process Monitor, and in the filter window that immediately pops up, add an include filter for process-name "Excel.exe". This will sift the results so it shows only Excel's behind-the-curtains dealings rather than every program/service on your system.

After you okay that, the collection begins. I suggest you begin this with Excel closed so you can capture the events that happen when it's opening. It's then a matter of looking through the result entries to see what may be causing problems. At the top of PM, there are five buttons you can click/unclick to sort the type of results (registry, file system, network, process/thread, profiling).

You'll quickly be swimming in thousands of result entries, which can be overwhelming. What I've found to help is learning the keyboard shortcuts to stop/start the collecting process (CTRL-E) and clear the window of results (CTRL-X). I'll have a blank PM window that's ready to filter for a program, then I'll press CTRL-E to start collecting, and then I start the program I'm troubleshooting. As soon as it's hit the troublesome spot (e.g. error window, slow start finished, etc.), I quickly stop collecting in PM with CTRL-E. It's useful to stop collecting as soon as you've hit the troublesome spot to reduce the mass of results.

Then it's a matter of sifting through, looking for problems. A helpful tip for doing this is filtering further -- right clicking a type of entry/result/status/etc and excluding (or including) it. If it's an entry that isn't particularly helpful, you can have all those entries removed from the results at once, but with the ability to always restore them back (and easily). You can also highlight and bookmark certain entries that are suspect or worth returning to.

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I don't know the exact answer, just suggest these: May be some add-ons, or drivers can cause a problem. Try to disable all auto-startup programs. May be there is a problem with connecting to printer/network/internet. May be it takes time for Excel to load printers,connect to network,internet updates before opening file.Try to disable them and open a file.

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I have run into very slow Excel 2013 Pro launch - even with a blank template. Oddly enough, there is a setting in Internet Explorer Security. Go to Internet Explorer, Open Up Internet Options, go to the Advanced tab. Scroll down to the Security Section and verify that the following setting is unchecked: Check for server certificate revocation*

This setting, when checked, demands that the 'server' certificate be a certain way (not sure how else to describe it). if you have no internet connection, you can imagine how difficult it would be to verify a server certificate (no server).

This helped me, but Excel still takes 5-7 seconds to open. I'm going to be trying some of the suggestions on www.accountingweb.com - search for how to disable worksheet animation.

I found on msdn that the .xlsx file type takes longer to open. We might be doomed :(

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My experience with Excel 2013 on Windows 8.1 taking around 5 seconds to load a file when the file or shortcut double clicked is EXACTLY the same as that reported by Alex Iliynsky above. The "solution" is also the same, although my case it was a different system tray "icon" causing the problem. He found removing PGPtray.exe fixed the problem (Excel loaded in around 2 seconds rather than five). I found the system tray icon from the widely used backup program iDrive was the cause in my case. When the iDrive system tray icon was present it slowed down Excel loading files (but only when double clicking the file or shortcut; it has no effect when just opening a blank copy of Excel).

I can't speculate on why the iDrive system tray icon affects Excel (its' basically an inactive process) but it does. Unfortunately it's not really a solution as having iDrive in the systems tray shouldn't be a problem. But certainly iDrive causes the delay, and removing it fixes it.

Another application which has exactly the same effect of slowing down Excel is Microsoft Money 2005. If Money is loaded it always slows Excel file opening from around 2 seconds to five.

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I have a fresh windows 10 install with nothing but Office 2016 on it, and excel was taking 20 seconds to open files (5960X @ 4.4 GHz, 64 GB RAM, Intel 750 Series SSD). Even a newly created empty spreadsheet would take this long top open.

I found the suggestions for turning off Cortana suggestions, but this was already off. Skeptically, I turned it on, thinking maybe toggling it would fix the issue. Actually turning it ON (enabling "Cortana can give you suggestions, ideas, reminders, alerts, and more") fixed the issue!

I have no idea why this would fix it, but it did.

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Something that has helped me with this issue (Excel 2013) is to disable hardware graphics acceleration.

Open a blank excel file, go to File>Options. In the advanced area find the display section and check 'disable hardware graphics acceleration'.

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  • While this tip certainly can improve Excel 2013's performance once open, it won't help solve the problem of delays opening workbooks. – I say Reinstate Monica Nov 20 '14 at 0:33

Disable the analysis toolpack and solver if you do not need them and if they are enabled.

File -> options -> add-ins -> Go Button Uncheck add-ins you do not use

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