Is Excel blank when you are opening a file?

Have you imported data into Excel that could potentially be an untrustworthy file? If so, this could be why you are experiencing a Grey, blank image on your Excel workbook.

Certain settings can interfere with how well Excel performs, which would need to be disabled to help fix the worksheet from displaying a blank file.

Completing a repair on Microsoft Office will eradicate corrupted software on your device that could be interfering with your Excel program.

With this guide, we will expand on the reasons why Excel is blank when opening a file, as well as provide you with five easy solutions that will assist you in getting rid of this error so you can carry on working with your Excel workbook.

 Why does my Excel File open blank?

Excel blank when opening file

Excel blank when opening the file

Excel will display a grey, blank screen if you have enabled the ‘Ignore DDE’ setting. DDE stands for ‘Dynamic Data Exchange. The DDE setting directs Excel to launch a workbook if you ‘double-click’ on it, however, if you have switched it to ‘ignore,’ Excel will reject your request to open a workbook if you click on it twice.  

Other reasons why Excel is blank when you’re opening a file are;

Reason 1. Excel sheet is hidden

The Excel workbook you are trying to view could be set as a hidden document. If this is the case, the sheet that you may have been working on previously has been altered to not appear.

If the ‘Show Sheet‘ setting has been turned off, you will be unable to see its data.

Reason 2. Conflicting add-ins

Your enabled add-ins could be conflicting with your Excel workbook if they are not compatible with the Excel software.

If an enabled add-in contains corrupted files, it will cause issues when you try and open your saved file, or while you are using certain features on the worksheet.

Reason 3. Hardware acceleration issue

The hardware acceleration feature is used to improve the graphics and performance in Microsoft Office, however, with this setting enabled, problems can occur with your computer hardware.

Reason 4. Suspicious downloaded file

Microsoft has increased their security measures when it comes to downloading files from the internet, and importing them into an Excel Workbook if the data is from an untrustworthy source.

This will prevent you from opening the imported workbook in Excel.

Reason 5. Faulty Microsoft Office install

If you installed Microsoft Office onto your device and it was interrupted or did not get downloaded successfully, you can incur corrupted software within your Microsoft files.

How to stop Excel from opening a blank workbook

excel blank when opening file

How to stop Excel from opening a blank file

You can stop Excel from opening a blank file by disabling the ‘Ignore DDE’ setting in Excel. Once this setting has been turned off, you will give Excel access to open the chosen workbook with a double-click, as you will allow the message request to process your instruction to launch the Excel file.

You can turn this feature off by following five simple steps;

How do I turn off Dynamic Data Exchange in Excel?

Step 1. Launch Microsoft Excel

Step 2. Click on ‘File’ followed by ‘Options’ which may be under the ‘More’ button

Step 3. From the left-hand tab, select ‘Advanced’

Step 4. Scroll down until you get to the ‘General’ heading

Step 5. Untick the ‘Ignore other applications that use Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE)

Exit out of Excel and relaunch the application before opening the file you are having trouble with.

If you have disabled the DDE settings and your Excel file is still opening a blank, grey file you can complete the following solutions to fix this problem;

Fix 2. Unhide Excel sheet

If your Excel worksheet is unintentionally hidden, you will need to unhide it.

Step 1. Open your Excel spreadsheet

Step 2. Click on the ‘View’ button

Step 3. Select ‘Unhide Window’

Your Excel spreadsheet should now show the cells.

(Did you know; an Excel spreadsheet can include a maximum of 512 different fonts, and a cell can have up to 32,767 characters. The ‘undo’ button also allows you to go back by 100 actions).

Fix 3. Disable add-ins

Disabling add-ins in Excel will help eradicate any conflicting software between your worksheet and the data that comes with the add-in.

Step 1. Open a new Excel worksheet

Step 2. Select ‘File’ followed by ‘Options’ (within ‘More’)

Step 3. Choose ‘Add-ins’ from left

Step 4. At the bottom by ‘Manage’ click on the drop-down menu and choose ‘COM Add ins’ and press ‘Go’

Step 5. In the box, uncheck all the add-ins that are currently enabled

Note, you can also untick the options under the ‘Excel Add-ins’ to make sure there is no incompatible software left enabled in your Excel Workbook.

Fix 4. Disable hardware graphics acceleration Excel

Although the hardware graphics acceleration setting is used to improve the performance of Microsoft programs, it can sometimes cause the opposite effect when you come to use your Excel Worksheet.

How do I turn off hardware acceleration?

Step 1. Open Excel

Step 2. Select ‘File’ followed by ‘Options’

Step 3. Choose ‘Advanced’ from the left side tab

Step 4. Scroll down until the ‘Display’ heading is viewed

Step 5. Disable ‘Disable hardware graphics acceleration’

Close Excel completely after you have saved your changes before opening your next file.

Fix 5. Repair Microsoft Office

You will experience Excel being blank when opening a file, or the program will keep crashing if Microsoft was not installed properly onto your device

Step 1. Launch the ‘Settings’ on your computer

Step 2. Click on ‘Apps’ and then ‘Apps & Features’

Step 3. Find the ‘Office’ application and push the three buttons on the side

Step 4. Choose ‘Advanced Options’ and confirm by clicking on ‘Repair’

Your desktop will now complete the repair process.

Why is Excel file opening as read-only?

Excel blank when opening file

Why is Excel file opening as read-only?

Excel will open a file as ‘read only’ if you do not have the necessary permissions to make changes to the file. This will be due to the location of the Excel Workbook. Permissions will be denied if the worksheet has been sent to you as a ‘preview’ file. If the Workbook is a ‘network’ folder, this will also cause the sheet to open as ‘read only’.

Along with the location of the Excel workbook, it will open in read-only mode if the following have occurred;

  • The Excel spreadsheet is already open by a different user
  • The ‘Protect’ setting has been enabled on the document
  • It is a corrupted worksheet
  • Your antivirus software is protecting your device from a potential threat

You can change your Excel document to open with granted permissions by either requesting the user to get out of the document or by disabling the ‘read only’ setting.

If you ‘save as’ the sheet onto your device, you will be able to make changes to the file.

Why is Excel not responding?

excel blank when opening file

Why is Excel not responding

Excel is not responding because you are trying to use the program when it is already in use by a different process. This will cause an overload of requests for Excel to perform, which is why the new Excel Workbook you are trying to use will freeze. Before launching a new sheet in Excel, make sure the previous job has been completed. You will be able to see if Excel is currently active for a different process in the bottom status bar.

Other reasons why Excel will start to hang when you use it are;

  • Excel needs to be updated
  • A conflicting add-in is enabled
  • Your workbook may contain invalid formulas
  • You have imported a file into Excel and it is incompatible

Excel can start to not respond, or crash when you are trying to work on a sheet, with formulas and styles, or when you want to save the document.

Although this may seem like an issue out of your control, there are solutions you can execute that will help stop Microsoft Excel from crashing or not responding.

How do I recover Excel not responding?

To recover your Excel workbook from not responding, you can complete the following fixes;

  • Only use Excel once it is not in use by a different program
  • Update Microsoft Office
  • Disable add-ins
  • Check your formulas and styles
  • Instead of importing a file, copy the content and paste it into a Workbook


With this guide, we hope you now understand why Excel was blank when opening a file, and that you were able to get rid of the grey, blank display with one of our five easy solutions.

However, if you are still experiencing issues with your Excel workbooks, whether the program is freezing or crashing, we suggest you make use of Microsoft’s Excel support page. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can send Microsoft a full description of the issue you are having by filling out their online form.

(Quiz Time; how many fonts can be used in Excel?). Complete our contact form with your answer in the questions box.