How to Fix Excel 2016 Opening Blank Workbook Issue?

Summary: Read this blog to understand what causes the Excel 2016 opens blank workbook when opening file issue. Also, it mentions the solutions to fix this issue. Also, you’ll find an Excel file repair tool that can quickly restore your Excel workbook with complete data.

How to Fix Excel 2016 Opening Blank Workbook Issue?

When opening a Microsoft Excel 2016 workbook by double-clicking on it, you may find that Excel displays a blank workbook. More precisely, just a blank grey screen appears instead of the file you expect to see. Such an issue can be caused by something as simple as a messed up Excel ‘Preferences’ settings or something more complicated like underlying corruption in the workbook. Regardless of what causes the issue, you can fix it using some simple solutions mentioned below.

Excel Blank Document

Figure 1 – Excel 2016 Blank Workbook

Solutions to Fix the ‘Excel 2016 Opening Blank Workbook’ Issue

Following are some solutions you can try to fix the ‘Excel 2016 blank screen when opening file’ problem.

Note: Before trying these solutions, make sure that the sheet you’re trying to open is not hidden. To locate hidden sheets in Excel, go to ‘View’ tab and check if the Unhide option is greyed out. If not, unhide your workbook.

Solution 1: Copy the Data to a New Workbook

Instead of clicking on the file name to open Excel spreadsheet, try opening it from Excel. For this, start Excel and click File > Open > Computer > Browse to locate the file. If it opens, copy and paste the file data to a new workbook.

Note: The solution might help you regain access to the file data but the problem may persist.

Solution 2: Uncheck the ‘Ignore DDE’ Option

When a user double-click an Excel workbook in Windows, a dynamic data exchange (DDE) message is sent to the Excel application, instructing it to open that workbook. If the DDE message is set to be “ignored” in Excel, double-clicking a workbook will open a blank screen. So check the value of this setting and uncheck the “ignore DDE” option (if enabled). Follow these steps:

  • In Microsoft Excel, click on File > Options. This will open the ‘Excel Options’ window.
Excel Options

Figure 2 – Excel File Options

  • On the ‘Excel Options’ window, click Advanced and scroll down to the General section.
Locate General Section from Excel Advanced Settings

Figure 3 – Locate General Section from Excel Advanced Settings

  • Uncheck the box next to “Ignore other applications that use Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE)”.
uncheck DDE option in Excel

Figure 4 – Uncheck DDE Option

  • Click on OK.

Solution 3: Disable Hardware Graphics Acceleration for MS Excel Workbooks 

Excel workbooks often demonstrate unanticipated symptoms, especially if you are using graphics (like advanced charts) in your Excel sheets.

The ‘Excel open blank workbook’ error may occur if the graphics card of your computer won’t function properly due to problem with hardware acceleration. To fix this, turn off hardware acceleration for MS Excel by following these steps:

  • In MS Excel, click on File > Options to open the ‘Excel Options’ window.
Open Excel Options Window

Figure 5 – Open Excel Options Window

  • Click on the Advanced tab and then locate Display section.
Locate Display Section from Excel Advanced Settings

Figure 6 – Locate Display Section from Excel Advanced Settings

  • Check the box next to “Disable hardware graphics acceleration”.
graphics option in excel

Figure 7 – Disable Graphics Hardware Acceleration

  • To apply the changes you’ve made, click OK.

Solution 4: Reset Excel Workbook File Associations

Verify if the file associations in the system are performing correctly and reset the ones pertaining to Excel to their default settings. To do this, follow these steps:

  • For Windows 10
    • Open Windows 10 settings.
    • From the ‘Settings’ screen, click on Apps.
Open Windows 10 Apps

Figure 8 – Open Windows 10 Apps

  • From the ‘App Settings’ window, click Default Apps and then click the Reset button under ‘Reset to the Microsoft recommended defaults’.
Reset File Associations to MS Recommended Defaults

Figure 9 – Reset File Associations to MS Recommended Defaults

Executing these steps will reset all of the Excel file associations to the Microsoft recommended default apps in Windows 10.

  • For Windows 8/ Windows Vista/ Windows 7
    • Click on Control Panel, select Programs, and then click on Default Programs.
Open Default Programs

Figure 10 – Open Default Programs

  • Click on ‘Set your default programs’ to open currently installed programs.
  • Select Excel from the list of default programs and then click ‘Choose default for this program’.
  • In the ‘Set Program Associations’ window, click on Select All and then hit the Save button.

Solution 5: Repair MS Office Installation

If the above solutions fail to resolve the issue, your MS Office installation might be damaged. Try repairing it using the following steps:

  1. Open Control Panel and select Programs and Features.
  2. Select ‘Microsoft Office’ in the programs list and then click the Repair option.
  3. If prompted, click on Continue.

Note: This process can take a little time to complete. Do not interrupt it before it is completed.

Also read: Excel AutoRecover not Working, What is Next?

Solution 6: Repair Blank Excel Workbook with Excel Repair Software

If the Excel 2016 opens blank screen problem persists, the Excel workbook you’re trying to open might be severely damaged. In this case, repair the Excel workbook by using Stellar Repair for Excel software. The software can fix all types of Excel errors and restore all tables, charts, cell comments, images, formulas, sorts, and filters to a new working Excel workbook. You can free download the tool’s demo version to scan and preview recoverable data from the file.

Free download

Read this: How to repair corrupt Excel file using Stellar Repair for Excel?


If you’re facing the Excel 2016 opens blank workbook when opening file issue, try resolving the issue by implementing the solutions discussed in this blog. However, if the manual solutions doesn’t fix the problem, you can rely on Stellar Repair for Excel software to repair and restore your .XLS/.XLSX workbook following a few simple steps. Also, it helps recover complete workbook data.

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