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Solving Excel 365 Freezes: 10 Quick and Easy Fixes

Louie Morgan
Louie Morgan Originally published Feb 20, 24, updated Apr 16, 24

You’re in the midst of a busy workday when suddenly, Microsoft Excel 365 freezes or hangs. The frustration is real, disrupting your workflow and jeopardizing data accuracy. This common issue resonates with many when they open the Excel file, launch the app, format cells, and more.

If you find yourself here, you likely have encountered this problem and need a solution. In the upcoming sections, you’ll learn different methods to fix the Excel 365 hanging issue. And if your Excel file gets corrupted after the program stops working, Wondershare Repairit can help you. But before that, let’s start with the reasons why it happens.

microsoft excel is not responding error
In this article
    1. Resource Overload
    2. Background Processes
    3. Corrupted Files or Add-ins
    4. Software Glitches or Outdated Versions
    5. Hardware Issues
    1. Fix 1: Force Quit and Restart Excel
    2. Fix 2: Close Unnecessary Programs via Selective Startup
    3. Fix 3: Run Microsoft Excel 365 in Safe Mode
    4. Fix 4: Disable COM Add-Ins
    5. Fix 5: Update Microsoft 365
    6. Fix 6: Repair the Microsoft Office App
    7. Fix 7: Verify the Excel File Isn’t in Use by Another Process
    8. Fix 8: Check for Conflicting Antivirus Software
    9. Fix 9: Review Excel File Contents
    10. Fix 10: Ensure Your System Has Enough RAM

Part 1: Why Does Excel 365 Freezes?

Excel can sometimes experience performance issues like slowness, unresponsiveness, freezing, or crashing. We’ll explore some common reasons below:

Resource Overload

Microsoft Excel freezes when you open a file or stop working due to resource overload. That’s because the demands placed on it exceed its capabilities. Let’s see each one:

  • Large Spreadsheets

Excel 365 freezes or hangs when you work with massive spreadsheets containing plenty of data. Each cell, even if empty, consumes memory. As the file size increases, Excel struggles to manage the data, so it hangs or doesn’t respond while you’re working.

  • Complex Formulas

Formulas are the workhorses of Excel, but complex calculations can be demanding. Each time you enter data or make changes, the application recalculates everything. If your formulas are complex, they can overload the program, resulting in Excel not responding.

  • Insufficient RAM

RAM, or Random Access Memory, is your computer’s temporary workspace. If your system has insufficient RAM, Excel may not have enough space to handle the workload. That’s why you might experience the Excel app not working when you open or launch a workbook.

Background Processes

Background tasks such as antivirus scans, system updates, or other open programs can slow things down when using Excel. They compete with Excel for crucial things like CPU and memory. It can cause problems like Excel freezing. If the resources get maxed out, it might even lead to app crashes.

laptop processing apps illustration

Corrupted Files or Add-ins

Excel can freeze or crash due to corrupted files or add-ins. Corrupted files have damaged data, formula errors, or formatting issues that confuse Excel. Also, add-ins can conflict with Excel, have bugs, or consume too much computer power, causing instability.

Software Glitches or Outdated Versions

Software glitches make the app malfunction, so you get an Excel not responding error. If you’re using an older version, it might not have the necessary bug fixes and improvements. It can make it slower and more likely to hang when dealing with big datasets.

Hardware Issues

Excel’s ability to work well depends on hardware parts like CPU and storage. If these parts have problems, it can make Excel freeze. For example, if the CPU is overloaded, the app may lag. Also, if there’s not enough storage, it can limit access to data, adding to the chances of Excel freezing when handling more tasks.

Ready to fix the Excel 365 hanging issue? Let’s walk through some targeted solutions based on the common causes identified. Read on to the next part.

Part 2: 10 Ways To Fix MS Excel 365 Hanging Issue

Is Excel not responding even after restarting your computer? Check out these top ways to diagnose and fix the problem when Microsoft Excel freezes.

Fix 1: Force Quit and Restart Excel

If Excel 365 freezes, you can solve the issue by force quitting and restarting the application. But before you do it, try to save your work, if possible, to prevent data loss. There are a few ways to force quit Excel, depending on your operating system:

  • On Windows

Step 1: Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc on your keyboard to open the Task Manager pop-up window.

Step 2: Find Microsoft Excel in the list, right-click on it, and select End Task.

microsoft excel end task on windows
  • On macOS

Step 1: Press Option + Command + Esc to open the Force Quit Applications window.

Step 2: Select Microsoft Excel and click Force Quit. Wait a few moments and then relaunch the Excel app to open your file.

force quit excel on mac

Fix 2: Close Unnecessary Programs via Selective Startup

Some programs and system processes start running in the background when you open Windows. They use resources like CPU, memory, and disk space. A resource-intensive background app can compete with Excel for resources. That’s why you may experience different Excel 365 hanging issues. To fix it, you may perform a clean boot or selective startup. It starts Windows with only essential drivers and services, helping isolate the problem.

Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Search System Configuration in the search box on your computer taskbar.

Step 2: Select Selective startup from the General tab bar.

Step 3: Clear the Load startup items checkbox, then click OK.

perform selective startup

After restarting, use Excel and see if the freezing issue persists. If the app works fine, it means a background program or service was causing the problem.

Fix 3: Run Microsoft Excel 365 in Safe Mode

Safe mode temporarily disables certain features and add-ins that might be causing problems. It includes startup folders used by Excel, changed toolbars, and alternative startup locations. So, when you start Excel in safe mode, it launches with a minimal set of features and disables most of these potential causes why Excel freezes. Here is the easiest way to run Excel in safe mode:

Step 1: Open the Run dialog box by pressing Windows + R.

Step 2: Enter Excel /safe in the Open textbox and click OK.

run excel in safe mode

If Excel works fine in safe mode, it indicates a problem with one of the disabled features or add-ins. You can then try disabling add-ins one by one or resetting Excel settings to identify the culprit.

Fix 4: Disable COM Add-Ins

If you suspect a COM add-in makes Microsoft Excel freeze, there are ways to identify it.

Step 1: Check the list of COM add-ins, go to File > More... > Options.

Step 2: The Excel Options pop-up window will open. Select Add-ins from the left side menu.

Step 3: Select COM Add-ins from the Manage drop-down list and click Go.

manage com add-ins

Step 4: The COM Add-Ins dialog box appears. In the Add-Ins available list, clear the checkbox next to the add-in you want to disable.

Step 5: Click OK to apply the changes and close the COM Add-Ins window.

disable com-add ins

After disabling, restart Excel in normal mode to ensure the changes take effect. If the problems disappear, enable the Add-ins one by one, restarting Excel after each until Excel 365 freezes. It pinpoints the problematic add-in. Once you find the culprit, disable it temporarily or permanently.

Fix 5: Update Microsoft 365

Keeping Excel 365 updated ensures you have the latest features, bug fixes, and security patches. Here’s how to update on both Windows and Mac when Excel freezes:

  • On Windows

Step 1: From the Excel upper navigation pane, go to File > Account.

Step 2: Under Product Information on the right, click the Update Options drop-down menu, and select Update Now.

update microsoft office 365
  • On macOS

Step 1: On the top menu of Excel, go to Help > Check for Updates.

Step 2: Select the Automatically keep Microsoft apps up to date checkbox, then click Update or Update All.

update microsoft excel on mac

Fix 6: Repair the Microsoft Office App

Repairing MS Office 365 programs can solve problems with Excel freezing, not working, or not responding. There are two installation types for Microsoft Office 365: Click-to-run and MSI. The repair process differs slightly between them, so here’s what you need to know:

  • For Click-to-run installations

Step 1: Right-click the Start button in the lower navigation pane, then select Installed apps in the menu.

Step 2: Find the Office program you want to troubleshoot, click the menu, and select Modify.

Step 3: In the “How would you like to repair your Microsoft 365 and Office programs?” pop-up window, choose Online Repair and click Repair.

online repair microsoft 365
  • For MSI installations

In the Change your Installation window, select Repair, and click Continue.

The repair process may take some time. Once it’s finished, restart your computer for the changes to take effect.

Fix 7: Verify the Excel File Isn’t in Use by Another Process

For smooth performance, avoid using Excel while it’s working on data. Otherwise, Microsoft Excel freezes if you don’t. A message shows when it is done. After checking it’s not in use elsewhere, you can look into other fixes.

excel file open in another application

Fix 8: Check for Conflicting Antivirus Software

If you are sure you are using the latest version of the antivirus software, it can still be the problem. Some antivirus programs offer integrations with applications like Excel to provide real-time scanning. While intended for security, these integrations can sometimes conflict with the app’s internal processes, so Excel 365 freezes and stops working.

To resolve this, you can create an exclusion for Excel in your antivirus settings. Check your software’s help or contact their support team for guidance.

Fix 9: Review Excel File Contents

Sometimes, the issue lies within the specific file you’re trying to open. Corrupted data or formatting within the file could be causing Excel to stop working, freeze, or crash. Checking the file contents allows you to see if any obvious errors are causing the Excel 365 hanging issue. It is often rooted in:

  • Formulas that reference entire columns or involve large arrays
  • Large datasets with plenty of rows or columns
  • Excessive rules for conditional formatting
  • Embedded objects like charts or images
  • Several external data Image names or connections to other workbooks

Fix 10: Ensure Your System Has Enough RAM

Check the minimum RAM requirements for your Excel version and compare it to your system’s installed RAM. If you’re significantly below the minimum, adding more RAM can help.

Step 1: Click the Start menu and search for System Information.

Step 2: Click on the System Information app in the search results.

Step 3: Scroll down in the System Information pop-up window. Under Installed Physical Memory (RAM), you’ll see the total amount of RAM installed on your system.

installed physical memory ram

Bonus Tip: Wondershare Repairit AI – Excel Data Recovery

Have you ever been working on a spreadsheet only to have the Excel 365 freeze, crash, or hang unexpectedly? It’s a heart-stopping moment, especially if you haven’t saved your work recently. These problems can often lead to corrupted Excel files, which may leave you wondering if your important data is lost forever.

inaccessible and corrupted excel file

Wondershare Repairit is a data recovery software specializing in repairing corrupt Excel files. It can handle even severely damaged files caused by freezes, crashes, or other unexpected Excel errors. Here’s a quick overview of its key features:

  • Repairs unreadable content, corrupt formula, unrecognizable format, and more
  • Supports Excel 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, 2007 and Office 365
  • Quickly and safely batch processing repair

If you’re dealing with damaged Excel files and want a simple solution, Excel 365 hanging issue included, consider Repairit. It’s user-friendly and excels at deep repairs. Follow these steps to fix various Excel corruption errors with ease:

Step 1: Download the Repairit software for your operating system (Windows or Mac). Next, run the installation file and follow the on-screen instructions to complete the setup.

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You can also try the Repairit Online version to fix corrupted Excel files.

Step 2: Once installed, launch Wondershare Repairit. On the More Types Repair interface, select the File Repair option.

excel file repair on windows

Step 3: Click + Add to browse and upload the corrupted Excel files you want to repair. You can add multiple files at once if needed.

import corrupted excel file

Step 4: After adding the files, click the Repair button to start the repair process. The software will scan the files and attempt to fix the corruption issues.

repair imported file

Step 5: The repair time may vary depending on the size and severity of corruption.

repair process status

Step 6: Once the repair is complete, you can preview the recovered data within the software. Check if the desired data has been restored accurately.

Step 7: If you’re satisfied with the results, click the Save button to export the repaired Excel file to a new location.

save repaired excel file


When Excel 365 freezes, it can disrupt your work. But now, armed with insights from this article, you’re ready to tackle the issue head-on. Now, it’s up to you. Apply the 10 practical solutions in Part 2 to keep your Excel running smoothly.

For those unfortunate moments when a corrupted Excel file occurs, try Repairit AI for efficient data and file recovery. Bookmark this guide for future use and solve Excel problems confidently - knowing a solution is just a click away.

Louie Morgan
Louie Morgan Apr 16, 24
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Louie Morgan
Written by Louie Morgan
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