How to Make Excel Calculate Faster: Speed Up Your Spreadsheets

Are you tired of waiting for Excel to finish calculating that massive spreadsheet? Well, you’ve come to the right place! With a few simple tweaks, you can make Excel calculate faster and save yourself some precious time. By optimizing your formulas, reducing the number of calculations, and tweaking Excel’s options, you can significantly speed up the calculation time.

After implementing these changes, you will notice a smoother and quicker Excel experience. Your spreadsheets will calculate in a fraction of the time, allowing you to work more efficiently and effectively.


Excel is a powerful tool that can handle complex calculations and vast amounts of data. However, when working with particularly large datasets or intricate formulas, you might find that Excel starts to slow down. This can be frustrating, especially when you’re working under a tight deadline. So, why does Excel slow down, and, more importantly, what can you do about it?

Sluggish calculations can occur for various reasons, such as too many formulas, volatile functions, or simply the sheer size of the data. This is an issue that affects many users, from data analysts crunching numbers to accountants balancing the books. Even students and teachers using Excel for class projects can run into this problem. Making Excel calculate faster is not just about saving time; it’s about improving your overall workflow and efficiency. In the following sections, we’ll explore how to do just that.

Step by Step Tutorial to Make Excel Calculate Faster

The steps we will go through aim to optimize Excel’s performance, making your calculations run like a well-oiled machine.

Step 1: Optimize Your Formulas

The first step to making Excel calculate faster is to optimize your formulas.

Formulas are the backbone of Excel’s calculation ability. However, complex or inefficient formulas can slow down your workbook’s performance. To optimize your formulas, avoid using entire column references like A:A, which can force Excel to process more cells than necessary. Instead, reference only the specific range you need, such as A1:A100. Additionally, use more efficient functions where possible. For instance, SUMIFS is generally faster than an array formula.

Step 2: Reduce Calculation Triggers

The next step is to reduce the number of events that trigger calculations.

Every time you make a change to a cell, Excel may recalculate the workbook, which can be time-consuming. To prevent this, you can set your workbook to manual calculation mode. This way, Excel will only calculate when you tell it to, rather than every time a cell is changed. You can do this by going to the Formulas tab, clicking on Calculation Options, and selecting Manual.

Step 3: Use Excel Options to Improve Performance

The last step involves tweaking Excel’s options for better performance.

Excel has built-in options that can be adjusted to improve calculation speed. Go to the Excel Options menu, then to the Advanced tab, and look for the section on Formulas. Here, you can enable options like ‘Enable multi-threaded calculation’ and ‘Set the number of calculation threads’, which allow Excel to use more of your computer’s processing power to calculate faster.


Faster CalculationsOptimizing Excel for speed can drastically reduce the time it takes to perform calculations, allowing for a more efficient workflow.
Less FrustrationNo one likes waiting for a slow program to respond. By making Excel calculate faster, you reduce frustration and improve your overall experience.
Improved ProductivityFaster calculations mean you can complete tasks more quickly, freeing up time for other important work.


Learning CurveSome users may find the process of optimizing Excel slightly complex, especially if they’re not familiar with Excel’s advanced settings.
Manual UpdatesIf you set Excel to manual calculation mode, you need to remember to update your calculations, which can be a hassle for some.
Compatibility IssuesIn some cases, certain optimizations may cause compatibility issues with other systems or software, although this is relatively rare.

Additional Information

Optimizing Excel to calculate faster can be a game-changer, especially for those who deal with large datasets on a regular basis. Beyond the steps outlined above, there are other tips and tricks to keep in mind. For example, consider using PivotTables for summarizing data instead of formulas, as they are designed to handle large amounts of data more efficiently.

Another tip is to regularly clean up your workbook. This includes removing any unnecessary formatting, unused cells, or hidden sheets that could be slowing down your Excel. Also, consider converting formulas to values once the calculation is complete if the data does not need to be dynamic. This can significantly reduce calculation time.

Remember to save your work frequently, especially before running heavy calculations or implementing changes to Excel’s settings. The last thing you want is to lose your progress due to a crash or error.


  1. Optimize your formulas by using efficient functions and specific range references.
  2. Reduce calculation triggers by setting your workbook to manual calculation mode.
  3. Use Excel options to enable multi-threaded calculation and adjust the number of calculation threads.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my Excel calculating so slowly?

Excel might be slow due to complex formulas, volatile functions, or large datasets that require a lot of processing power to calculate.

How can I make Excel only calculate when I want it to?

You can set Excel to manual calculation mode by going to the Formulas tab, clicking on Calculation Options, and selecting Manual.

Will optimizing Excel’s calculation speed affect its accuracy?

No, optimizing for speed will not compromise the accuracy of Excel’s calculations.

Can Excel’s calculation speed vary between different versions?

Yes, different versions of Excel may have varying calculation speeds due to updates and improvements in the software.

Is it possible to make Excel calculate instantly?

While you can significantly improve Excel’s calculation speed, some complex calculations might still take time, so instant calculations aren’t always feasible.


Making Excel calculate faster is an invaluable skill that can save you time and frustration. By optimizing your formulas, adjusting calculation triggers, and utilizing Excel’s performance options, you can enjoy a more efficient and seamless experience with your spreadsheets.

Remember, the key is to understand how Excel processes data and to make strategic adjustments to accommodate your specific needs. With these tips and tricks, you’ll be well on your way to becoming an Excel speed wizard!

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