How to Reduce Excel File Size (11 Suitable Methods)

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In this Excel tutorial, we will explore the reasons behind larger Excel file sizes and how to reduce Excel file size to smaller sizes, to zip, for mail, with macro, with Pivot table, with pictures, without deleting data, and without opening the file itself.

Whenever working with Excel, the file size can cause problems in some cases. Larger file sizes can cause slower performance and trouble when sharing files. There can be multiple reasons behind this larger file size and knowing these reasons is crucial to solve the related issues. A larger file size takes up a lot of disk storage and sometimes can freeze your computer even take a long time to just open them. Whether you are dealing with complex formulas, large datasets, or formatting, you can save a lot more than just disk space by following this article.

Reduce Excel File Size

Find Out What Is Causing Large Excel File Size
Reduce Excel File Size
 Minimize Picture Size for Sharing
 Remove Excess Formatting
 ZIP Excel File
 Clear Pivot Table Cache
 Compress Embedded Objects While Uploading
 Delete Unnecessary Data or Sheets
 Remove Unnecessary Conditional Formatting
 Keep Only Used Range in Worksheets
 Remove Needless Formulas
 Get Rid of Watches
 Delete Unnecessary Hidden Data
Reduce Excel File Size Without Deleting Data
 Compress an Excel File to a Zip
 Save File in Binary Format
 Optimize Used Formulas
Reduce Excel File Size Without Opening
Available Tools to Reduce Excel File Size
Frequently Asked Questions
Reduce Excel File Size: Knowledge Hub

How to Find Out What Is Causing Large Excel File Size?

We can use data compression programs like 7-Zip, Gzip, WinZip, etc. to see which items in your Excel file are responsible for its large size. Here, we will use the 7-Zip data compression program as it is free and open-source. You can download the install file from its official page.

  • Select and right-click on the file >> select 7-Zip >> select Open archive.

Opening Archive

  • You can see media and worksheets are causing the larger file size.

Finding Reasons

How to Reduce Excel File Size (11 Suitable Methods)

If your Excel file contains pictures, large embedded objects, PivotTables, Watch Windows, or hidden data then the file size can get large. Depending on the contents of your Excel file, you may need to apply one or multiple methods to reduce your Excel file size. Here are 11 suitable methods to reduce an Excel file size.

1. Minimize Picture Size for Sharing

The reason behind the large file size can be that it contains pictures. You can follow the following steps to solve this problem.

  • Select the picture >> go to Picture Format tab >> select E-mail (96 ppi): minimize document size for sharing >> select OK.

Compressing Excel File with Picture

2. Remove Excess Formatting

Another reason behind larger Excel file size is excess formatting. Go through the following procedure to clear this formatting and reduce file size.

  • Select the cell range that contains unnecessary formatting >> go to the Home tab >> select the drop-down button for Clear >> select Clear Formats.

Clearing Excess Formatting

3. ZIP Excel Data File

If you have a file with large datasets then you can follow this procedure to reduce Excel file size.

  • Change the File Name Extension to zip >> select Yes.

Changing File Name Extension

4. Clear Pivot Table Cache

Pivot table Cache can be another reason for the large file size in Excel. Here is a solution to that.

  • Right-click on any cell of the Pivot Table >>  select PivotTable Options.

Select Pivot Table Options

  • Disable the Save source data with file option >> enable the Refresh data when opening the file option>> click OK.

PivotTable Options Dialog Box

5. Compress Embedded Objects While Uploading

We can insert objects like PDF, MS Word, MS Excel, MS PowerPoint, Pictures, etc. files in Excel. These files are called Embedded Objects and Embedded Objects and these objects can cause a larger Excel file size.

For example, consider the following worksheet with an embedded MS Word File. We will compress this embedded object to reduce our Excel file size.

Embedded Object in Excel

  • Right-click on the embedded MS Word file >> select the Document Object option >> click the Open command.

Open Embedded Object

  • At this time, the MS Word file will open. As you can see, there are a lot of pictures in this file.
Inserted Images in the Microsoft Word File

Click the GIF for a detailed view

  • Select any image and you will get the Picture Format tab. Go to the Picture Format tab and click the Compress Pictures option.
Selecting Compress Pictures Feature from Picture Format Tab

Click the image to get a detailed view

  • In the Compress Pictures dialog box, disable the Apply only to this picture option >> enable the Delete cropped areas of pictures option >> set to Resolution to E-mail (96 ppi): minimize document size for sharing >> click the OK button.
Compressing Pictures to Compress Microsoft Word File

You can click this image to get a detailed view

  • Press the F12 key to open the Save As dialog box. Go to the directory where you want to save the compressed file >> enter a File name >> set the Save as type option to Word Document >> click the Save button.
Saving the Compressed Microsoft Word File

Click the image to get a detailed view

  • Return to your Excel worksheet. Select the embedded object and press the Delete key to remove the previous object.

Deleting the Previous Embedded Microsoft Word File Object

  • Now, select the cell where you want to insert the object >> go to the Insert tab >> select the Object option from Text group.
Inserting Compressed Microsoft Word File

Click the image to get a detailed view

  • In the Object dialog box, go to the Create from File tab >> select Browse and select the compressed file from the directory where you saved it >> enable Link to file and Display as icon options >> click the OK button.

Inserting Compressed Object

  • Your compressed object will be uploaded in the Excel file.

Compressed Object in Excel Workbook

Note: The compressing techniques will vary depending on the type of the embedded objects and their contents.

6. Delete Unnecessary Data or Sheets

  • Select unnecessary sheets by holding the Ctrl key >> right-click on the selected sheets >> select Delete.

Deleting Sheets

7. Remove Unnecessary Conditional Formatting

  • Select cells that contain unnecessary Conditional Formatting >> go to Home tab >> select Conditional Formatting >> select Clear Rules >> click on Clear Rules from Selected Cells.

Cleaning Conditional Formatting

8. Keep Only Used Range in Worksheets

  • Select 1st unused row >> press Ctrl + Shift + Down Arrow () >> right-click on selected rows >> select Delete.

Cropping Unused Rows

9. Remove Needless Formulas

  • These marked cells contain the same formulas.

Same Formula in Cells

  • Select the value and press Ctrl + C >> right-click on the cell where you want to paste the value >> select Values from Paste Options.

Paste values

10. Get Rid of Watches

  • Go to Formulas tab >> select Watch Window >> select all the watches >> click on Delete Watch.

Deleting Watch

11. Delete Unnecessary Hidden Data

  • Select whole sheet >> right-click on rows or columns >> select Unhide >> delete unnecessary data from the hidden cells.

Unhiding Hidden Rows

Note: Depending on the contents of your Excel file, you may need to apply one or multiple actions from the above-mentioned methods. For example, after minimizing picture sizes, removing excess formatting, clearing PivotTable cache, compressing embedded objects, and removing unnecessary data, formulas, and sheets, my Excel file size has reduced from 53 KB to 32 KB.

Reduce Excel File Size After Clearing Pivot Table Cache, Compressing Embedded Object, Removing Unnecessary Data

How to Reduce Excel File Size Without Deleting Data

If you don’t want to delete any data while reducing your Excel file size, then you can compress the file to a zip file or save it in binary format. You can also optimize the array formulas or nested functions used in your workbook.

1. Compress an Excel File to a Zip File

  • Select the file >> right-click on it >> select Send to >> select Compressed (zipped) folder.

Zipping Excel file

  • Here, you can see that the file size is reduced.

Reduced file size

2. Save File in Binary Format

  • Go to File tab >> select Save As >> select Excel Binary Workbook (*.xlsb) as file type >> select Save.

Saving Excel file in binary format

After saving the file in binary format, my Excel file size has reduced from 53 KB to 49 KB.

Reduction of Excel File Size Due to Saving in Binary Format

3. Optimize Used Formulas

Complex formulas (e.g. nested IFs, array formulas, etc.) can increase the size of your Excel file. In such cases, you can use alternative simple formulas, and optimize the used formulas by avoiding unstable functions.

How to Reduce Excel File Size Without Opening

  • Select Excel file >> right-click on it >>select Properties.

Selecting Properties

  • Select Advanced from properties.

Properties dialog boxeṣ

  • Enable Compress contents to save disk space >> select OK.

Compressing Size

After applying this method, my Excel file Size has reduced from 53 KB to 46 KB.

Compressing Contents in Excel File to Reduce Size

Reduce Excel file size using online tools (Free & Premium)

There are several popular tools online that you can use to compress your Excel files. Most of the tools handle most of the Excel file formats. Here is a list of tools that you can use to compress your Excel files:

  • // This online tool compresses XLS, XLSX, XLSM, and XLSB Excel files.
  • // This online tool compresses XLS, XLT, XLTX, CSV, XLSX, XLSB, and XLSM Excel files.
  • // This online tool compresses .xls, .xlsx, and .xlsm files (max 50 Mb).

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why Is Excel File Size Large?

There are many reasons behind larger file sizes. They are:

  • Containing pictures.
  • Large data sets.
  • Embedded objects.
  • Pivot table cache.
  • Excess cell formatting.

2. How to Reduce Excel File Size?

Some ways of reducing Excel file sizes are.

  • Zipping Excel file.
  • Saving in binary format.
  • Compressing image.
  • Removing unnecessary formatting.
  • Deleting Pivot table cache.

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This article covers the reasons behind large Excel file sizes, how to determine these reasons, and how to reduce Excel file size in different cases using different methods. To conclude, you can say that this article covers everything about reducing Excel file size. We hope this article will be helpful for you. If you have any queries or suggestions, please let us know in the comment section below.

Reduce Excel File Size: Knowledge Hub

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Siam Hasan Khan
Siam Hasan Khan

Hello! Welcome to my Profile. Here I will be posting articles related to Microsoft Excel. I have completed my BSc in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from American International University-Bangladesh. I am a diligent, goal-oriented engineer with an immense thirst for knowledge and an attitude to grow continuously. Continuous improvement and life-long learning are my mottoes.

  1. Reply
    Abraham Levendal May 8, 2018 at 1:42 AM


    I found that if you save your workbook as a binary file in the format .xlsb, it saves a great amount of space by reducing a large file by about 60%!!

  2. What I have noticed is that if I copy an excel file from a network to my computer the size increases exponentially. The way to reduce the size is to Break links to the original file,or copy paste values from network file into a new file on my computer.

  3. I have two, very different, files each of 45,737KB. This seems to be a remarkable coincidence. I wonder if there might be a problem when they expand, as they will do with time.

    Incidentally they take under 8 seconds to load – I have a 64 bit version of Office. The access time is .0035ms

  4. Thank you Kawser .. that’s really helpfull

  5. This list of ways to reduce excel file size is so comprehensive that i do not need to look any further. Thanks a lot for this.

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