Microsoft Excel is a widely used application by users around the world to store and manage their data. But, there are errors faced with this application that can be annoying to the users as their data can get corrupted and they may not be able to open the file at all. Many users have reported seeing an error message as below
Excel cannot complete this task with available resources. Choose less data or close other applications.
Generally, this error is seen in Excel files that have large amounts of data, complex formulas, and macros. The system may show this error as the resources needed to process such a workbook is not available.
Possible causes for this error are:
- Trying to open or save an Excel file
- Using a defined name in a formula in the spreadsheet
- Opening a workbook that references a relative name from another Excel workbook.
- Defining or deleting a name in the file
- More than one active instance of Excel is opened on your PC
- Low processing capacity of RAM
If you have been troubled with errors in MS Excel, then you are in the right post. In this article, we have discussed some solutions based on user surveys that helped them solve this issue on their computers. Before trying the fixes, perform a system restart and check if it helps resolve this error.
Fix 1 – Ignore applications using DDE
1 – Click on File Tab in excel
2 – Click on Options from left menu located at bottom
3 – Click on Advanced from left menu of Excel options
4 -In the right side of Excel options, keep scrolling down until you find , Ignore other applications that use Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE)
5 -Click Ok.
Fix 2 – Check for Exceeding Defined Limits in the Excel File
MS Excel has certain defined limits that need to be followed else it may result in errors like this. So you need to check whether these limits are exceeded like having many calculations or storing large amounts of data and so on.
Some of the limits defined in excel are as below:
1. Maximum size limit for the workbook is 1,048,576 rows by 16,384 columns.
2. The maximum number of characters that a particular cell can have is 32,767 characters.
3. 2048 is the max selected range for a calculation.
4. A calculation can have a maximum of 64 nested levels of functions.
If all the limits are being followed in your Excel worksheet then move to the next fix.
Fix 3 – Open Only One Instance of Excel
At times without your knowledge, there will be many instances of Excel workbook running on the system. All these instances need to be closed and your error Excel sheet needs to be reopened to check if it fixes the issue.
1. Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open Task Manager.
2. In the Task Manager, go to the Processes tab.
3. Expand the Apps section to see the applications currently running.
4. Locate Microsoft Excel and check whether there are any other instances currently running.
Note: Make sure that you have saved your Excel worksheets before ending them.
5. Select each Excel instance and click on the End task button to stop the processes.
6. Check to see there are no Excel instances in the Task Manager.
7. Now open the problematic Excel file and check if the error is resolved. If the problem still persists, then go to the next method.
Fix 4 – Open Excel in Safe Mode
1. Press the Windows and R key combination to open Run.
2. Type excel /safe and hit Enter.
3. Now Excel opens in Safe mode. You will see Book1 – Microsoft Excel – Safe Mode as the title of the Excel window.
4. Click on the File menu.
5. Select Open and then click on Browse to select your problematic Excel file.
6. Open this Excel file and check if the problem still occurs or not.
Fix 5 – Disable Details and Preview Pane in Windows Explorer
The preview pane allows you to have a look at the file contents before you open it. If the preview pane is enabled, it may conflict with the Excel worksheet and cause this error. Follow the steps to disable it.
1. Press the Windows + E to open the File Explorer.
2. Click on the View tab at the top.
3. In the drop-down menu, move over to the Show option.
4. Here, if the Preview Pane/Details Pane button is checked it means it is enabled.
5. Click on the Preview Pane and Disable Pane to disable/hide it.
6. Open your Excel worksheet and check if the error is fixed.
If it doesn’t work, try turning off the Detail Pane and Preview Pane in Excel.
1. Launch Excel application.
2. Press Ctrl + O to go to the Open tab.
3. Click on Browse.
4. In the Open window, click on the Organize button at the top left corner.
5. Go to the Layout option in the dropdown menu.
6. Now, uncheck Details Pane and Preview Pane if it is enabled.
Fix 6 – Change Defined Names to Reference Cells Directly
When you have defined names that are indirectly referring to some other nested names more than 20 levels deep, this error can be shown to the user. To overcome the error due to defined names, you can do the following:
1. Add or make use of a name that exceeds the indirection level present in the formula.
2. Remove any name that is being referenced by more than 20 levels of defined names.
Try as much as possible to reference the cells directly by modifying the defined names.
Fix 7 – Remove Unwanted Formatting
1. Open the Excel workbook.
2. Press Ctrl + A to select all the entries in the sheet.
3. In the Home tab, click on Clear (eraser icon) on the right side in the Editing section.
4. Choose Clear Formats.
If the problem still exists, try the next fix.
Fix 8 – Turn Off Automatic Calculations
Whenever any changes are been made in the Excel sheet, it by default calculates the formulas in the sheet automatically. You can change this setting to manual using the steps below.
1. Click on the File menu.
2. Select Options at the bottom.
3. In the Excel Options window, go to the Formulas tab.
4. Under Calculations options, select the radio button next to Manual.
5. Click on OK to close the Excel Options window.
6. If you want to perform any cell calculations manually, select the Formulas tab in your Excel worksheet.
7. Tap the Calculate now button in the Calculation section on the right side.
Fix 9 – Close all Background Applications
1. Open Task Manager using the Ctrl, Shift, and Esc key combination.
2. Select the Details tab.
3. Here, look for the program or service that you want to stop from running. Select this process/service and click on the End task button.
Note: Don’t end any process where the username is SYSTEM.
Fix 10 – Permanently Disable Background/Startup Applications
1. Press Windows + R to open Run.
2. Type msconfig and hit Enter to open System Configuration.
3. Go to the General tab.
4. Make sure that you have selected the option Selective startup.
5. Select the Startup tab.
6. Click on Open Task Manager.
7. In the Task Manager’s Startup tab, select the application that is not needed and click on Disable button. Disable all the applications that are not needed.
8. Close the Task Manager and go back to System Configuration.
9. Go to the Services tab.
10. Here, check the box associated with the option Hide all Microsoft Services.
11. To disable all the running services click on the Disable all button.
12. Click on OK.
13. Click on Restart to reboot your PC. Check if the issue with the Excel file is solved after startup.
Fix 11 – Hardware & Software Upgrades
1. Try increasing the system’s RAM. For example, if you have 4 GB RAM then increase it to 8GB or more.
2. Upgrade Excel to 64-bit so that it can handle larger workbooks easily by taking the benefit of more than 2GB RAM.
MS Excel must now be free of the error that indicates the resources are not enough to complete the task. Comment and let us know the fix that helped you overcome this error.
A software engineer turned into an educator with vast teaching experience in universities. Currently working towards my passion for writing.