How to Start Excel in Safe Mode (3 Easy Ways)

If you’re facing problems running an Excel file or if you find your Excel application repeatedly crashing, it might help to open Excel in Safe mode.

Microsoft Excel has an in-built Safe mode feature.

This lets you open the application with the minimum bare-bones so that it is easier for you to identify the source of the problem.

There are two ways to open Excel in Safe mode:

  • Using a keyboard shortcut
  • Using a command-line argument

In this tutorial, we will show you how to use both ways to start Excel in safe mode.

We will also show you how to leave the Safe mode once you’re done and how you can create a shortcut that will always open Excel in Safe mode.

What is Excel Safe Mode?

The Excel Safe mode is usually used for troubleshooting. It is used when you find that your Excel application is crashing every time you open a particular file, or after you installed some add-ins.

Sometimes the issue may also be the result of certain customizations.

When you open an application in Safe mode, it opens without loading any add-ons, extensions, autocorrect features, or customizations.

It also ensures that any recovered documents or startup programs don’t run, so that you can trace the feature or add-on that was causing the trouble.

How to Start Excel in Safe Mode

There are two ways to open Excel in Safe mode:

  • Directly from a shortcut on your desktop
  • From the command line using a special argument

Let us take a look at both these methods one by one.

Opening Excel in Safe Mode with a Keyboard Shortcut

You can open Excel in Safe mode directly by using its shortcut icon, along with the CTRL key of your keyboard.

Here are the steps you need to follow to open Excel in Safe mode using this method:

  1. Locate the Excel shortcut. It could be on your desktop, taskbar, or in your Start menu.
  2. If it is on your desktop then hold down the CTRL key of your keyboard and double click on the Excel shortcut’s 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 shortcut.Control Click on the Excel icon
  3. Keep the CTRL key pressed until you see a message box asking you, “You’re holding down the CTRL-key. Do you want to start [Application] in Safe Mode?Prompt to confirm starting Excel in safe mode
  4. Click on the Yes button.Click on Yes button
  5. This will open Excel in Safe mode.

Opening Excel in Safe Mode from the Command Line

Another way of opening Excel is by loading its .exe file from the Windows command line, along with the ‘/safe’ switch. Here are the steps you need to follow to open Excel in Safe mode using this method:

  1. Open the Run dialog box by pressing the Windows key + R. Alternatively you can open the run dialog box by clicking on the Search Windows icon located on the taskbar and typing ‘Run’, followed by the return key.Type run in windows search bar
  2. Once the Run window opens, type ‘excel /safe’ in the input box next to ‘Open’.type excel safe in run dialog box
  3. Press the Return key or click OK.
  4. This will open Excel in Safe mode.

You can tell that it is in Safe mode from the words ‘Safe mode’ written in brackets after the name of the file at the top of the Excel window.

Excel opened in the safe mode

How to Create a Shortcut that Always Opens Excel in Safe Mode

You may need to open your Excel application in Safe mode on a regular basis, perhaps because of some particularly persistent and unresolvable problem, or to ensure that the application uses up minimum computer resources. In any case, the process to ensure this is quite simple. Here are the steps you need to follow:

  1. Create a shortcut for the Excel application.Create a shortcut of the Excel application
  2. Right-click on the shortcut and select Properties from the menu that appears.Right click and then click on Properties
  3. This will open the Excel properties dialog box.
  4. Select the Shortcut tab.Select the shortcut tab
  5. Add ‘/safe’ to the end of the path in the Target box.Add ‘safe’ to the end of the path in the Target box
  6. This will ensure that this shortcut always launches Excel in Safe mode.Excel opened in the safe mode

Now whenever you want to open Excel in Safe mode, you can double-click on this shortcut directly.

How to Leave Safe Mode

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

This is quite simple. All you need to do is close the Excel application and then open it again normally.

In this tutorial, we showed you two ways in which you can launch Excel in Safe mode.

We also showed you how you can leave the Safe mode and how you can create a shortcut to always open Excel in Safe mode. We hope this tutorial has been helpful and easy for you to follow.

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