How to Restore Microsoft Excel to Its Default Spreadsheet

By Grahame Turner

When using Excel often, you might sometimes throw off the settings and default template. Which means that no matter how often you close and reopen a new spreadsheet, Excel may hold onto some of the previous settings. This can get really annoying, especially when you're trying to start a fresh spreadsheet and are used to the default settings. Fortunately, restoring those settings to their defaults is a relatively quick and easy process.

Excel 2003 or Earlier

Step 1

Go to \"C:\\Documents and Settings\\\\Application Data\\Microsoft\\Templates.\" Open \"My Computer\" and open the \"Documents and Settings\" folder. Open your username, then \"Application Data,\" \"Microsoft\" and finally find the \"Templates\" folder.

Step 2

Rename the Book.xlt and Sheet.xlt files to something that you will remember. This step is optional, but allows you to save the settings for later use. Either move these files, or delete them if you don't want to use the template again. If there are no XLT files in this folder, continue below.

Step 3

Go to \"C:\\Program Files\\Microsoft Office\\Office11\\XLStart.\" Navigate to \"Program Files,\" and open the \"Microsoft Office\" directory. Select \"Office11\" and then \"XLStart.\"

Step 4

Look for any template files inside this folder--these are any files with a \".xlt\" extension. If there are any, delete them. If there are none, continue below.

Step 5

Open Microsoft Excel, and locate the \"Options\" settings under the \"Tools\" menu.

Step 6

Click the \"General\" tab and note which folder is listed \"At Startup, open all files in.\" Minimize or close Excel and navigate to the folder listed in that box.

Step 7

Delete any existing XLT files in that folder. If you want to save them for later use, rename the template using a name you will remember.

Step 8

Open, or close and reopen Microsoft Excel to verify the settings returned to default.

Excel 2007 or Later

Step 1

Open Microsoft Excel.

Step 2

Navigate to the Help menu and open the \"Detect and Repair\" function. The Detect and Repair dialog will appear. If you want to restore your shortcuts at this time, check the appropriate icon.

Step 3

Click \"Start.\" Wait for a short period while Office deletes all of the settings on all of the programs in the suite and restores it to its original installed state. This will apply the settings to Word, PowerPoint and Excel, and any other Office programs you have installed.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can use the Excel 2003 or earlier templates you create in Step 2 again by placing them in the \"C:\\Documents and Settings\\\\Application Data\\Microsoft\\Templates\" or \"C:\\Program Files\\Microsoft Office\\Office11\\XLStart\" folders, or whichever folder is specified on the \"General\" tab in the Options dialog. After that, the template will appear in the Templates dialog box for later use.
  • When clearing the information on Excel 2007 or later, you are restoring all of Microsoft Office to the original version when it was installed. Bear this in mind, as you will lose your Assistant character selection, the \"Recently Used\" entries on the File menu, the default size of the application windows, your menu or toolbar positions and customizations, the set security levels for each application, and your view settings within the application, such as the Calendar view in Outlook. You will also have to re-enter your name and initials for Office on the next time you use it. If you don't want to lose other data settings, try backing up the settings with a program such as the one listed in References.