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

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In this Excel tutorial, we will learn two ways of how to open Excel in Safe Mode, and how to always run and exit Excel’s Safe Mode. We will also learn the limitations of using Safe Mode.

We have used Microsoft 365 when preparing this article, but the operations apply to all versions of Excel.

Microsoft Office applications can operate in a special mode called “Safe Mode” when something isn’t working correctly. Safe Mode is helpful 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. However, some Excel features may not be available in safe mode.

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 allows you to start the program with minimal functionality and without loading any add-ins or customizations. It 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, you must remember that any subsequent files that you open will also be in Safe Mode. To disable this, you must exit the Excel application. This means that you must close all files to exit the application and Safe Mode.

How to Open Excel in Safe Mode?

We have three ways to open a workbook in Safe Mode.

  1. Using Keyboard Shortcut
  2. Applying Command Mode
  3. Opening Directly from Windows Search

1. Use Keyboard Shortcut to Open Excel in Safe Mode

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

clicking yes from the confirmation window box

  • You will be able to open your file in safe mode as a result. The top panel of the Excel window shows Safe Mode written next to your workbook name.
  • Don’t worry if it doesn’t show. Depending on the version, it may differ. We are using the Excel 365 version in this article.

using the keyboard shortcut to open Excel in safe mode

2. Using Run Command Box

To open Excel in Safe Mode using the Run command, we have to type excel /safe in the Run box.

  • Click on the Search bar in the Windows toolbar and write run in the search box. Then click on Run.

opening run window from the search bar

  • In the Run box, type excel /safe. You can also open Run by pressing Windows + R. Then click OK.

typing excel /safe in Open text box

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

opening excel in safe mode using command mode

3. Open Excel in Safe Mode Directly from Windows Search

If you use Windows 10 or the previous version, you can quickly open Excel in safe mode from the search bar.

  • Go to the Search Bar and type excel.exe /safe.
  • You will find the excel.exe /safe command under the Best match.

Go to Search Bar and type the given command

  • After clicking on the excel.exe /safe command, you will see that Excel has opened in safe mode like the following image.

Output of opening Excel in safe mode using Search Bar

If you are on Mac OS, you must use system-level Safe Mode when troubleshooting. There is no application-level Safe Mode. You can turn the whole Mac system into Safe Mode but not a particular application like Microsoft Excel for Mac, Microsoft Word for Mac, etc.

How to Always Run Excel in Safe Mode?

To run your workbook always in Safe Mode, we have to add “ /safe” to the end of the path in the Target text box under the Shortcut tab of Excel Properties.

  • First, create a new file for Excel. This will act as a shortcut to open more files in the 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

  • Add “ /safe” to the end of the path in the Target text box under the Shortcut tab. Then click OK.

adding safe to the end of the target text box

  • As a result, 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?

There are two ways available to exit Safe Mode: Exit mode and Trust Center Settings.

1. Exiting and Restarting Excel

To exit Safe Mode, you must close the Excel application. After that, open an Excel file, it will open in normal mode.

exiting and restarting Excel to exit safe mode

2. Disable Safe Mode from Trust Center

You can disable Excel Safe Mode from Trust Center settings.

  • Open an Excel file and go to the File tab > Options.

selecting options to disable Excel safe mode from the trust center

  • Select the Trust Center option from the left side menu of the Excel Options window.
  • In this menu, click on the Trust Center Settings.

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

  • Then, a new window will open named Trust Center.
  • Go to the ActiveX Settings from the 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

  • Now, you can try to open your workbook in Safe Mode to see if it works, but it will only open in normal mode.

What to Do If Excel in Safe Mode Fails?

Here are a few troubleshooting tips that you can check if Safe Mode fails in your workbook.

  • For your Excel version, take care to insert the correct command.
  • Disable any antivirus or security software that might affect Excel’s Safe Mode.
  • Reset Excel to defaults.
  • 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?

There are some limitations to using this mode:

  • No add-ins are loaded in Safe Mode.
  • Customization for ribbon is unavailable in Safe Mode.
  • Absence of AutoCorrect option.
  • No option to save a file in Safe Mode.
  • Unavailability of additional features in Safe Mode.

Things to Remember

  • To open Excel in safe mode using the Run command or Windows search, put a space between the “excel” and “/safe” keywords.
  • If you are using Excel in Mac OS, you must use system-level Safe Mode when troubleshooting.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can you save files in Safe Mode?

Answer: You can save files even when you are in Safe Mode. Excel’s ability to save files is one of its most important features, and it’s not just available in normal mode. Still, if you are working on a file with scripts or add-ins, they might not work right in Safe Mode. And keeping these files in Safe Mode could make it hard to read them in normal mode.

2. Can we copy data in Safe Mode?

Answer: Yes, you can copy data in Safe Mode. In Safe Mode, some features and add-ins may be disabled, but common tasks like copying data will not be affected. Just as you would 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?

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


In this article, we have covered everything about Excel Safe Mode. Whether you want to open your workbook in safe mode or run it in safe mode all the time, we showed you all the possible options. Moreover, we showed the ways to exit Excel’s safe mode. We hope this article was informative and useful for you. Feel free to leave any questions, comments, or recommendations in the comments section.

Excel Safe Mode: Knowledge Hub

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Nujat Tasnim
Nujat Tasnim

Hello everyone!! Welcome to my profile. I'm currently working and researching Microsoft Excel, and I'll be sharing articles about it here. My most recent academic qualification was BSc in Computer Science and Engineering from American International University-Bangladesh.I have a bachelor's degree in computer science and am really interested in research and development. I'm always enthusiastic about picking up new knowledge and abilities. I enjoy cooking and experimenting with new recipes in my free time.

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