Excel Safe Mode vs Normal Mode: A Comparative Analysis

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Excel is the most widely used tool when it comes to dealing with huge datasets. We can perform myriads of tasks of multiple dimensions in Excel. You can operate a file in various modes in Excel. In this article, I will discuss two such modes, Excel normal mode, and Excel safe mode. I will also demonstrate some differences between these two methods (Excel safe mode vs normal mode).

Introduction to Safe Mode in Excel

Office applications can operate in a special mode called “safe mode” when something isn’t working properly. When an app crashes and you can’t open files in regular mode, or when you want to check if an add-in or extension might be causing a problem upon starting, Safe Mode might be helpful.

  • To open Excel in safe mode, press the Windows + R keys to launch the Run. Then type excel /safe in the box and press OK.

excel safe mode vs normal mode

  • Excel will open a workbook in safe mode.

Excel Safe Mode vs Normal Mode: 5 Specific Differences

There are some fundamental differences between the safe mode and the normal mode of Excel in terms of their activities, and features. Let’s have a look at some of them.

1. No Add-ins Are Loaded in Safe Mode

The first difference is that Excel does not load any add-ins in safe mode. In normal mode, we have several add-ins. To see the add-ins in normal mode,

  • Go to the File tab.

excel safe mode vs normal mode

  • Then go to More >> Select Options.

  • Excel Options window will open. In the Add-ins, you will see the activated add-ins in normal mode. For example, in this case, the activated add-in is Power Pivot.

excel safe mode vs normal mode

  • But, in safe mode, these add-ins are not loaded.

2. Customization for Ribbon Is Unavailable in Safe Mode

Another critical difference in Safe Mode is that customization of Excel ribbon is unavailable in Safe Mode. To see the available options in the normal mode,

  • Go to the Options following the previous method.
  • You will find the Customize Ribbon option in the Excel Options dialog box.

excel safe mode vs normal mode

  • But, in the safe mode, there are no options for customization.

3. Absence of AutoCorrect Features

The AutoCorrect feature is also absent in the safe mode.

  • In the normal mode, you can find the AutoCorrect features in the Proofing

excel safe mode vs normal mode

  • On the other hand, the Proofing option is not available in the safe mode.

4. No Option to Save a File in Excel Safe Mode

One major difference of the safe mode is that you cannot save a file in safe mode. When you reopen the file after a while, the file will automatically open in normal mode.

  • This is a file named Book1 which is open in safe mode.

excel safe mode vs normal mode

  • Now I am going to reopen this file after saving it on my computer.

  • After that, you will see that Excel opens this file in normal mode. The Safe Mode status is no longer available beside Book1.

excel safe mode vs normal mode

Read More: Excel Only Opens in Safe Mode

5. Availability of Additional Features in Safe Mode

There are some other differences in Excel safe mode. I have listed some of them below.

  • Excel will not load additional features and programs automatically in the safe mode.
  • You cannot save Preferences in the safe mode.
  • Files with limited permission cannot be created or opened.

Things to Remember

  • To avail all the options absent in safe mode, you have to close the safe mode and operate Excel in normal mode.


So, this article was about Excel safe mode vs normal mode. I hope it helps everyone. If you have any kind of suggestions, ideas, or feedback, please feel free to comment down below.

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Akib Bin Rashid
Akib Bin Rashid

Hi, this is MD Akib Bin Rashid. I completed my BSc in Engineering back in 2019. After that, I did an MBA. Then, I joined as an Excel and VBA Content Developer at SOFTEKO Digital. Being passionate about data analytics and finance, I will try to assist you with Excel

  1. Hi

    I have Office Pro Plus 2019 and Excel can’t sort data. When I open Excel in safe mode sort function start to work. I have no add-in activated. On same computer I had same problem with version 20126. Can you help me please?

    Sincerely, Darko
    [email protected]

    • Reply Avatar photo
      Naimul Hasan Arif Nov 20, 2022 at 11:23 AM

      Hello Darko,
      Thanks for your valuable comment. This problem should not occur if the values are generated within Excel. However, This problem might happen if you copy and paste data from the web pages. In that case, there might have some non-printable characters which are preventing you from sorting data.
      To check if there are any non-printable characters, use the LEN function to have the length of those cells.
      If they are not giving proper output, apply the following formula to remove the non-printable characters.
      After that, I hope the Sort function will work perfectly.

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