How to Open Excel in Safe Mode Step-by-Step (+ Shortcut)

Are you facing problems every time you run Microsoft Excel?

Perhaps there is a problem with the program or there is some issue with your Excel workbook that you can’t seem to fix 😩

Then it’s only safe to say that it’s time you open Excel in Safe Mode

When you open Excel in Safe mode, it allows you to safely use it even when it has encountered certain problems. You can also identify the cause of the problem so you can troubleshoot it 😀

In this tutorial, we’ll show you a step-by-step guide on how to open Excel in Safe Mode.

What is safe mode in Excel?

If Excel crashes every time you open it, you have the option to try running Excel in Safe Mode.

Safe Mode launches Office applications without some startup programs, extensions, and add-ins that may be causing startup problems.

Simply put, opening Excel in Safe mode allows you to use the application “safely” and troubleshoot it 😊

Office Safe Mode should not be confused with Windows Safe Mode. It is different as it runs the Microsoft Office application in Safe Mode instead of the whole system.

But the concept is the same: to launch “safely”.

Kasper Langmann, Microsoft Office Specialist

We’ll show you two (2) methods to open Excel in Safe Mode on a Windows PC 👇

Open Excel in safe mode with keyboard shortcut

The fastest way to open Excel in Safe Mode is by using its shortcut icon, along with the CTRL key of your keyboard ⚡

  1. Locate the Excel shortcut on your desktop, taskbar, or in your Start menu.
Start Excel in Safe Mode using keyboard shortcut
  1. If your Excel application is on your desktop, hold down the CTRL key of your keyboard and double-click on the Excel icon.

If it is on the taskbar or in the Start menu then hold down the CTRL key of your keyboard and single-click on the Excel shortcut.

  1. Keep the CTRL key pressed until you see a confirmation window box asking you if you want to start the application in Safe mode.
  2. Click YES.
start Excel in safe mode

You can tell that it is in Safe mode from the words “Safe mode” written after the name of the file at the top of the Excel window 👍

open Microsoft excel safe mode

Start Excel in safe mode from Windows command line

Another way of opening Excel in Safe Mode is by loading its .exe file from the Windows command line, along with the ” /safe” switch.

Here’s how to do that 👇

  1. Press Windows key + R on your keyboard. This will open the Run dialog box.
run window opens

You can also do this by clicking on the Search Windows icon located on the taskbar and typing “Run”.

  1. In the Open input box, type “excel /safe”.
run dialog box
  1. Click OK.
run app

This also opens Excel in Safe mode 😊

safe mode in title bar

How to always run Excel in safe mode

If your Excel application keeps on crashing and running with unresolved problems, then it’s only safe to always run Excel in Safe mode 😊

In this method, you’ll create a shortcut for the Excel application and add the ” /safe” switch in the file path to always open this shortcut in Safe mode.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Create a shortcut for the Excel application.

It’s best to rename this shortcut so that you won’t get confused with Excel’s normal mode.

Excel safe mode file name
  1. Right-click on the shortcut and select Properties from the right-click menu.
Select properties

The Properties dialog box will open.

properties dialog box
  1. Click Shortcut Tab.
shortcut tab
  1. Add ” /safe” to the end of the path in the Target box.

💡 Make sure to add the space character before the forward slash. Without the space character, this switch will not work.

  1. Click OK.

Now, whenever this shortcut is used, a new workbook will open in Safe Mode 😀

open excel in safe mode

Exit Excel safe mode

If you have found the cause of your problem and resolved it, you can now leave Safe mode.

All you need to do is to close the Excel application. It’s that easy!

You need to close all the open Excel files because if one Excel file in Safe mode is open, Safe mode will not be exited. That means all Excel files will be in Safe mode as well.

So, exit all Excel files to exit the application and exit Safe mode 👋

Limitations of safe mode

When running Excel in Safe Mode, it is understood that there are obviously some features that will not be available compared to running Excel in normal mode.

Here are some limitations of using Excel in Safe Mode ✍

  • Any additional programs (Excel add-ins) and added features will not be loaded
  • Creation and access of documents with restricted permission are constrained
  • Recovered documents cannot be automatically accessed.
  • The Toolbar will not load with its normal mode customizations. Any customizations made in Safe Mode will not be saved.
  • The AutoCorrect list will not load. Any changes made in AutoCorrect will not be saved.

But you can still access and use Excel’s basic features in safe mode and you can troubleshoot any problems that may be caused by startup programs, extensions, or add-ins in Excel 👍

That’s it – Now what?

Way to go! Now that you know how to open Excel in Safe Mode, you can troubleshoot possible Excel issues 😀

Once these issues are resolved ✅ you can get back to getting work done faster and easier in Excel with its powerful features and functions.

Learn advanced Excel functions that help you get work done faster and easier. Join my Excel Advanced Training where you’ll learn the most useful functions like IF, SUMIF, and VLOOKUP, and how to effectively clean your data in Excel 😊

Other resources

Have you encountered other errors in Excel like the #NAME? or #VALUE! errors? 😬

Don’t worry! Here’s our Full List of ALL Excel Errors and How to Fix Them article for you.

Lost your file because Excel keeps crashing? 😩

Read our How to Recover an Unsaved Excel File article to help you recover them 👍

Frequently asked questions

Opening Excel in Safe mode allows you to use the application “safely” without some startup programs, extensions, and add-ins that may be causing startup problems, and troubleshoot it.

There are many ways to open a large Excel file without crashing it.

One of the most effective ways to do that is to open the Excel file in Safe mode. Safe mode allows you to use Excel safely, identify the issue causing the crash, and troubleshoot it.