[Fixed!] Trace Dependents Is Not Working in Excel (3 Solutions)

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In this article, I am going to present some possible solutions to fix the Excel Trace Dependents not working problem. The Trace Dependents is a very useful feature for tracing the cells that are dependent on a specific cell. It allows us to visualize the inter-relations among cells and have a map. But sometimes, we may face that this feature is not available or not working properly. Read this article carefully to learn how to fix this problem.

Excel Trace Dependents not Working

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Trace Dependents Is Not Working in Excel: 3 Solutions

In this section, we will demonstrate 3 effective solutions for solving the Excel Trace Dependents not working problem with appropriate illustrations. Let’s explore those solutions one by one.

1. Unprotect Worksheet

If your worksheet is protected, then the Trace Dependents feature will be grayed out on the ribbon and will not be available for use.

Greyed out Trace Dependents Option as Excel trace dependents not working

  • In order to restore the Trace Dependents option, remove the protection by right-clicking on the sheet name and then selecting the Unprotect Sheet option.

Unprotecting Worksheet

  • Now, type the password and click OK.

Unprotecting Worksheet by Giving Password

  • After giving the password, the sheet will be unprotected, and the Trace Dependents option will be restored.

Trace Dependent Option Reactivated

  • Now, we can use the Trace Dependence option to trace dependent cells of any cell.

Tracing Dependent cells of C19 and F17

2. Using Advanced Option to Show All Object

Another reason for the Trace Dependents option to be grayed out is that not all objects are authorized to show on the workbook. To grant permission for displaying all the objects including the Trace Dependence/Precedence arrows on the worksheet, go to the File tab and select Options.

Going to Options from File Tab

  • As a result, the Excel Options window will open up. Now, go to the Advance From there, scroll down to the Display options for this workbook section. Now, in the For objects, show: option, click on All. After that, click OK.

Enabling All Objects to Show

This should enable the Trace Dependents option again if it was unavailable due to hiding objects.

Trace Dependence option Reactivated After Using Advanced Option

3. Reduce Number of Dependent Cells

If the dependent cells are large in number, then the Trace Dependents options may fail to show all the dependent cells. Hence, to use the Trace Dependents option in this case, try to reduce the number of dependent cells. Otherwise, you can use other database management software, such as MS Access, which is more suitable for dealing with large, interdependent datasets.

Some Additional Tips Before Using Trace Dependent Option

1. Enable Formula Auditing

First of all, we need to ensure that the formulas in the worksheet are written correctly. To see all the formulas in a worksheet, go to the Formulas tab and then click on the Show Formulas option in the Formula Auditing group. As a result, all the formulas will be shown like this instead of value.

Displaying All Formulas in the Worksheet

By scanning through all the formulas, you should be able to verify whether you put all the formulas correctly at a glance.

2. Check for Circular References

If the formula in a cell contains a circular reference, the Trace Dependents feature may not work properly. To check if your worksheet contains any circular references, go to the Formulas tab and then click on Error Checking >> Circular References.

Checking Circular Reference

By seeing the circular reference, try to remove them. After that, check again whether the Trace Dependence works or not.

3. Restart Excel

Occasionally, Excel may encounter temporary issues that prevent some features from operating as intended. Close and reopen Excel to see if the problem persists.

4. Update or Repair Excel

Make sure you are using the most recent version of Excel and that it is up to date. If the issue persists, you can attempt to repair Microsoft Office via the Control Panel or the Apps & Features settings.

Things to Remember

  • As it is very difficult to guess the actual reason behind the improper behavior of the Trace Dependents feature, we recommend that you try each of the solutions mentioned above and see which one works for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do I enable Trace Dependents in Excel?

Choose the cell for which you want to trace dependents. Then, under the Formulas tab, click on the Trace Dependents option in the Formula Auditing group or press  Ctrl + [. As a result, Excel will display arrows to indicate the cells that the value of the selected cell has an impact on.

2. How do I turn off Trace Dependents in Excel?

On the Formulas tab, in the Formula Auditing group, click Remove All Arrows >> Remove Trace Dependents Arrows.


In this article, I tried to compile all the effective solutions available to fix the issue of Excel Trace Dependents not working. If you found this post useful, please share it with your friends. Moreover, do let us know if you have any other questions in the comment section of this post. Take care and goodbye!

Aniruddah Alam
Aniruddah Alam

Hi, I am Md. Aniruddah Alam from Dhaka, Bangladesh. I completed my Bachelor's degree in Naval Architecture from BUET. Currently, I am working as an Excel and VBA Content Developer. Here, I always try to present solutions to Excel-related problems in a very concise and easy-to-understand manner. In my leisure time, I love to read books, listen to podcasts, and explore new things.

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