5 tips to speed up Microsoft Excel

The feature-loaded Microsoft Excel is sometimes prone to issues like latency when opening a file, freezing, delayed response and sometimes even ‘no response’. However, these lags can be fixed just by disabling a few performance-robbing features like used range, add-ins, automatic calculation, graphic acceleration, etc. In this article, we will be looking at some tips and tricks to speed up your favourite spreadsheet application.

1. Try a Quick Repair 

Microsoft Excel has a built-in automatic repair feature called ‘Open and Repair’. You can use it to run a quick health check and the software automatically fixes common issues. Here are the steps to run Quick repair:

  • Go to “File > Open”.
  • Click on the small dropdown arrow in the ‘Open’ button.
  • Choose ‘Open and Repair’ 
  • Click on the ‘Repair’ option 

2. Remove Unused Add-ins    


Add-ins like themes are not always necessary. Most of the time, they just burden your system and cause your spreadsheets to slow down. Here’s how you can disable unnecessary add-ins:

  • Go to the ‘File > Options’ menu and choose ‘Add-ins’ from the left sidebar.
  • Click the ‘Manage’ dropdown, choose ‘Excel Add-ins’ and then choose ‘Go’.
  • Uncheck all unnecessary items and click OK. 
  • Close and reopen Microsoft Excel. Check whether Excel performs smoothly.
  • If Excel is still slow, disable all items in ‘COM Add-Ins’, ‘Actions’ and ‘XML Expansion Packs’ and restart Excel.

3.  Get Rid of Used Range 

Used range is the unused region on your worksheet that Excel thinks is being used. This can happen if you add and delete data from cells. If the used range is large, the size of your file will be larger than necessary, thus affecting the speed. Your workbook calculates more slowly than it should. Even navigating around the worksheets can be sluggish. To avoid this:

  • Select the excess rows or columns on your worksheet.
  • Choose the Excel Home > Cells > Delete Command (shortcut: ctrl+minus)
  • Save the workbook as a new file. 

4.  Use Manual Calculation Mode 

When you update a value in a cell, Excel automatically recalculates the whole worksheet. You end up waiting for Excel to finish calculating, and this might delay your project. The solution to this issue is to set up Excel so that all computations are performed manually. 

  • Go to File > Options > Formula.
  • Under ‘Workbook Calculation’, look for ‘Calculation Options’. Find the ‘Manual’ button and click on it.
  • Uncheck ‘Recalculate Workbook Before Saving’

5.  Disable Hardware Graphic Acceleration 

While hardware graphics acceleration may sound like a performance boost, it actually refers to a slew of unnoticed animations that slow things down. To disable these features:

  • Go to File >Options>Advanced
  • Tick the Disable hardware graphics acceleration check box in the Display section of the Options window.

More Tips 

1. Avoid Volatile Formulas:  Volatile formulas are recalculated every time when there is a change in the workbook. (For instance: NOW, RAND, OFFSET, etc.) So when there are a large number of volatile formulas, the entire formula set is recalculated. As a result, the worksheet gets sluggish.

2. Replace Unused Formulas by Static Values: A worksheet with a lot of formulas will be slow. If you have formulas that are no longer needed, you should change them to a static value by pasting them as values. 

3. Use Named Ranges: A named range is one or more cells that have been given a name. Using named ranges can make formulas easier to read and understand. Named ranges can assist speed up and improve accuracy. They can aid in the automation of updates to massive datasets and charts/graphs.

4. Remove Conditional Formatting:  When you want to highlight cells that meet a specific criterion. It can slow down Excel when used on huge data sets or several times.


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