How to Open, Run and Turn Off Excel Safe Mode (Complete Guideline)

This tutorial was prepared using Microsoft 365, but the operations apply to all versions of Excel.

overview image of Excel safe mode

What Is Safe Mode in Excel?
Open Excel in Safe Mode
 Use Keyboard Shortcut
 Use Run Command
 Open Directly from Windows Search
Always Run Excel in Safe Mode
Exit Safe Mode
 Exiting and Restarting Excel
 Disable Safe Mode from Trust Center
Troubleshoot If Excel Safe Mode Fails
Limitations of Using Excel in Safe Mode
Things to Remember
Frequently Asked Questions
Excel Safe Mode: Knowledge Hub

What Is Safe Mode in Excel?

Excel Safe Mode is a troubleshooting option that can help diagnose and resolve issues related to Excel crashes, freezing, or other unexpected behavior caused by add-ins or corrupted files.

In Safe Mode, you can work with your files, but some features and functionality may be disabled. It’s a temporary mode intended for troubleshooting purposes. This means that even if you open a file in Safe Mode, it will still open in normal mode the next time you access it.

When using Safe Mode, remember that any subsequent files that you open will also open in Safe Mode. To disable this behavior, close all files and exit Excel (and thus Safe Mode).

How to Open Excel in Safe Mode?

There are three ways to open a workbook in Safe Mode.

  1. Using the Keyboard Shortcut
  2. Using Run Command
  3. Opening Directly from Windows Search

Method 1 – Using the Keyboard Shortcut


  • Double-click the file you want to open in Safe Mode while holding down the Ctrl key on your keyboard.
  • Select Yes from the confirmation box.

clicking yes from the confirmation window box

  • The file will open in Safe Mode.
  • Depending on your version of Excel, the top panel of the Excel window will show Safe Mode next to your workbook name.

using the keyboard shortcut to open Excel in safe mode

Method 2 – Using the Run Command Box


  • Click on the Search bar in the Windows toolbar and enter run in the search box.
  • Click on Run.
  • Alternatively, open Run by pressing Windows + R on your keyboard.

opening run window from the search bar

  • In the Run box, enter excel /safe.
  • Click OK.

typing excel /safe in Open text box

Note: There is a space after the word “excel“. The slash (/) follows after the space. Leaving out the space will result in an error.
  • The file will open in safe mode.

opening excel in safe mode using command mode

Method 3 – Opening Directly from Windows Search

If you use Windows 10 or a previous version:

  • In the Search Bar enter excel.exe /safe.
  • The excel.exe /safe command appears under the Best match.

Go to Search Bar and type the given command

  • Click on excel.exe /safe.
  • Excel opens in Safe mode.

Output of opening Excel in safe mode using Search Bar

If you are on Mac OS, you will have to use system-level Safe Mode when troubleshooting, as there is no application level Safe Mode in MacOS.

How to Always Run Excel in Safe Mode?


  • Create a new Excel file. This will act as a shortcut to open more files in Safe Mode.

creating a shortcut for the Excel application

  • Right-click on the shortcut and select Properties.

selecting properties to always run Excel in safe mode

  • Under the Shortcut tab add “ /safe” to the end of the path in the Target text box .
  • Click OK.

adding safe to the end of the target text box

  • This shortcut will open a new workbook in Safe Mode whenever we use it.

final image of always run Excel in Safe Mode

Note: Remember to add a space before the forward slash (“/“). It won’t work without the space character.

How to Exit Safe Mode in Excel?

Method 1 – Exiting and Restarting Excel

To exit Safe Mode, simply close the Excel application. Excel files will now open in normal mode.

exiting and restarting Excel to exit safe mode

Method 2 – Disable Safe Mode from Trust Center


  • Open an Excel file
  • Click the File tab > Options.

selecting options to disable Excel safe mode from the trust center

  • The Excel Options window opens.
  • Select the Trust Center option from the left side menu.
  • Click Trust Center Settings.

selecting trust center settings to disable Excel safe mode from trust center

  • A new window named Trust Center opens.
  • Click ActiveX Settings from the left side menu and unmark the check box for Safe mode.
  • Click OK.

unmarked check box for the safe mode to disable Excel safe mode from trust center

What to Do If Excel in Safe Mode Fails?

Here are a few troubleshooting tips if Safe Mode fails in your workbook.

  • Take care to insert the correct command for your Excel version.
  • Disable any antivirus or security software that might affect Excel’s Safe Mode.
  • Reset Excel to default settings.
  • Try Microsoft Office Installation Repair: Launch the Control Panel and choose Uninstall a program. Double-click Microsoft Office and choose Repair.

What Are the Limitations of Using Excel in Safe Mode?

  • No add-ins are loaded.
  • Customization for the ribbon is unavailable.
  • AutoCorrect option is disabled.
  • Non-availability of Excel additional features.

Things to Remember

  • If using the Run command or Windows search, insert a space between the “excel” and “/safe” keywords.
  • If using Mac OS, you will have to use system-level Safe Mode for troubleshooting; there is no Safe Mode available for individual applications like Excel in MacOS.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can files be saved in Safe Mode?

Yes, files can be saved even in Safe Mode. However, if you are working on a file with scripts or add-ins, they might not work right in Safe Mode, and saving these files in Safe Mode could make it hard to read them in normal mode.

2. Can data be copied in Safe Mode?

Yes, you can copy data in Safe Mode. In Safe Mode, some features and add-ins may be disabled, but just as in Excel’s regular mode, you can select cells, copy them, and paste the copied data into other worksheets or cells.

3. Why is Safe Mode locked?

One or more buttons may be stuck down if your phone is in safe mode. Try removing your button case and re-starting the phone. If you’re not using a case, try pressing and holding the power button for about 30 seconds to see if it fixes the issue.

Excel Safe Mode: Knowledge Hub

<< Go Back to Workbook in Excel | Learn Excel

Get FREE Advanced Excel Exercises with Solutions!
Nujat Tasnim
Nujat Tasnim

Nujat Tasnim, BSc in Computer Science and Engineering from American International University-Bangladesh, has a year-long tenure with ExcelDemy. Initially a Content Developer at SOFTEKO, she transitioned to the Software Team as Junior Software Quality Assurance Engineer. Currently serving as a Junior SQA Engineer at SOFTEKO, she excels in SDLC, STLC, and requirement analysis and possesses profound insights into OOP-related software development processes. Nujat is also proficient in design software like Photoshop and Illustrator, contributing diverse skills to her... Read Full Bio

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

Advanced Excel Exercises with Solutions PDF