Excel Freeze Panes Not Working (5 Causes with Fixes)

Get FREE Advanced Excel Exercises with Solutions!

A typical Excel dataset contains hundreds of rows and tens of columns. Excel Freeze Panes helps users to instantly recognize entries just by looking at the Freeze Panes. However, Excel Freeze Panes not working is an issue when datasets are exported or acquired from external sources. In this article, we discuss the reasons why Excel Freeze Panes not working and also demonstrate way-outs.

Let’s say we have a sales dataset of which we have the column headers in Freeze Panes. But at some point, of time in our usage, we found the issue that Excel Freeze Panes are not working.

Dataset-Excel Freeze Panes not Working

First, we point out the underlying reasons behind Excel Freeze Panes not working. Then one by one resolve the reasons.

What is Excel Freeze Pane?

The Excel Freeze Panes feature locks the rows or column headings. By doing so, Freeze Panes enables users to see each entry’s row or column heading no matter how further he or she scrolls.

freeze panes-Excel Freeze Panes not Working

Reasons Behind Excel Freeze Panes Not Working

There are 3 basic reasons for Excel Freeze Panes not working. The underlying reasons are

a) Previewing Worksheet Page Layout Preview

Excel offers 3 Workbook Views to preview any worksheets in them. Nevertheless, if users accidentally select preview worksheets in Page Layout Preview, he or they won’t be able to apply the Freeze Panes feature to the worksheets.

Page layout

b) Workbook Protection is Enabled

In businesses, users occasionally protect their Excel workbooks by inserting passwords or other means. In order to Freeze Panes to work in those datasets, we have to first Unprotect the respective Worksheets.

We can Unprotect the Worksheets by going into the Preview tab > Select Unprotect Sheet (from the Protect section).

unprotect sheet-Excel Freeze Panes not Working


c) Worksheet Protected by Earlier Versions of Excel

Sometimes, Excel workbooks are protected by earlier versions of Excel. Opening an Excel workbook generated in earlier versions may result in the Freeze Panes not working.

Excel Freeze Panes Not Working: 5 Easy Ways

Method 1: Excel Freeze Panes Not Working Resolved by Changing Page Layout Preview

Day-to-day Excel users work on Excel workbooks received from external sources. After opening those Excel workbooks users may find worksheets in different Previews. If an Excel workbook is in Preview except for Normal or Page Break Preview, the Freeze Panes can’t be applied.

Being oblivion to the Preview fact, if we proceed to apply the Freeze Panes feature to the dataset, we find the Freeze Panes to be grayed out (disabled) as depicted in the picture below.

layout-Excel Freeze Panes not WorkingTo resolve the issue, Follow the below sequences to enable the Freeze Panes feature.

➤ Go to the View tab > Select the Normal Preview (from the Workbook Views section). Also, you can select the Page Break Preview to enable the Freeze Panes.

frozen freeze panes

Now, you see the Freeze Panes feature is enabled in the Window section.

➤ Since the Freeze Panes feature is enabled. You can simply execute the feature to insert Freeze Panes.

Click on the Freeze Panes group command > Select Freeze Panes (from the options).

Applying freeze panes

Selecting Freeze Panes inserts a Split Line in the position where you want them and freezes the panes above the line as shown in the following picture.

Split line for freeze panes-Excel Freeze Panes not Working

Read More: How to Freeze Top Row and First Column in Excel

Method 2: Removing Protection from the Sheet to Make Freeze Panes Work

Extracting an Excel workbook file from different sources may cause us to encounter File Protection issues.

Suppose, we get a file to work with and we go to insert Freeze Panes in the worksheet as instructed in the picture below.

Applying freeze panes-Excel Freeze Panes not Working

But we encounter a warning from Excel saying The cell or chart is a protected sheet and if we want to make a change have to unprotect it first…


Dealing with this File Protection issue needs the following simple step to perform.

➤ Move to the Review tab > Select the Unprotect Sheet option (from the Protect section).

Applying unprotect sheet

➤ After unprotecting the worksheet, return to the worksheet and apply the Freeze Panes feature repeating Method 1 sequences. You will be left with a worksheet with working Freeze Panes as shown in the picture.

Outcomes-Excel Freeze Panes not Working

Read More: How to Unfreeze Rows and Columns in Excel

Method 3: Unfreezing the Panes to Make Freeze Panes Work

In cases, when we import data from multiple sources, we encounter incidents like Excel Freeze Panes not working. That’s because we may use data that are generated in different versions of Excel or mismatch any view formats.

In order to overcome the issue just follow the below instructions.

➤ Hover to the View tab > Select the Unfreeze Panes (from the Freeze Panes options in the Window section).

unfreeze panes-Excel Freeze Panes not Working

Again, apply the Freeze Panes repeating the Method 1 sequences. Afterward, you find the Freeze Panes are working as it does in the previous method’s outcomes.

Method 4: Using Table Instead of Freeze Panes

Not working Freeze Panes creates inconveniences while working with a huge dataset. In a scenario where the Freeze Panes are not working and following any other methods alter its ingenuity. In this case, we can use Excel’s Table feature to transform the range into a table dataset. Since Excel Table by default offers Freezing Panes and many other options to execute, it’s quite a good alternative to the Excel Freeze Panes not working issue.

Inserting a Table then using it to freeze column headers is common among Excel users. Execute the following steps to insert a Table instead of Freeze Panes.

➤ Pick the entire range then move to the Insert tab > Select Table (from the Tables section).

Inserting table

➤ The Create Table command box appears. Click on OK.

Create table window

In a moment, Excel inserts the Table as you can see in the following screenshot.


By scrolling, you can check whether the table works as the Freeze Panes or not. After scrolling 4 or 5 rows, you see that Table freezes the column headers similar to the Freeze Panes. And there are no issues with the header being frozen.

Table outcomes

After inspecting the inserted Table, you may feel that Excel Tables are good alternatives to the Excel Freeze Panes.

Read More: Keyboard Shortcut to Freeze Panes in Excel

Method 5: Using Microsoft Excel Repair Tool

Sometimes, it happens that we perform all the ways to make the Freeze Panes work. However, for some unavoidable damages to the Excel file, we are not able to make Excel Freeze Panes work. In this case, we can use the Excel inbuilt Open and Repair option. Also, there are various Microsoft Excel Repair Tools available to repair any Excel Files.

➤ When opening an Excel workbook, Select the File. Then Click on the little Down-Arrow Button beside the Open command. Multiple options appear, Select the Open and Repair option to retrieve the file.

open and repair-Excel Freeze Panes not Working

After retrieving the file, you can apply Freeze Panes or any other feature you want.

Excel by default tries to repair damaged files after opening. But in case Excel isn’t able to repair the file, free Microsoft Excel Repair Tools are available on the internet. You can download one of your choices and then use the tool in case of severe file corruption or damage. The Microsoft Excel Repair Tools offer a plethora of retrieve items such as

➽ Repairing corrupted files

➽ Retrieving most of the data containing Cell Formatting, Formulas, Table Styles, Charts, and many more.

These repairing tools are supported by Excel’s all versions (not certain about Excel 365).

Read More: How to Freeze Multiple Panes in Excel

Download Excel Workbook


In this article, we discuss Excel Freeze Panes and try to resolve Freeze Panes, not working issues. Excel Worksheet’s Page Layout Preview, Worksheet Protection, and File Generated in Different Excel Versions cause this issue to emerge. And we demonstrate ways to resolve them. Hope these methods solve the setbacks you are facing with Freeze Panes. Comment if you have further inquiries or have anything to add.

Related Articles

What is ExcelDemy?

ExcelDemy Learn Excel & Excel Solutions Center provides free Excel tutorials, free support , online Excel training and Excel consultancy services for Excel professionals and businesses. Feel free to contact us with your Excel problems.
Maruf Islam
Maruf Islam

My self, Maruf Islam, an engineer and Excel & VBA Content developer on Exceldemy. I enjoy solving problems, finding workable solutions, and most of the part I really like to take on challenges. On Exceldemy I write articles discussing various way outs of Microsoft Excel's stuck ons.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

Advanced Excel Exercises with Solutions PDF