How to Reduce Excel File Size: Tips and Tricks for Smaller Files

Reducing the size of an Excel file can be a real lifesaver when you’re struggling with slow load times or need to email a spreadsheet that’s just too big. The good news is, there are a few simple tricks you can use to slim down your file without losing any important data. Let’s dive in and see how it’s done!

Step by Step Tutorial to Reduce Excel File Size

Before we start, it’s important to understand that reducing the file size can help you save storage space, make your files easier to share, and speed up the opening and closing of your spreadsheets. Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Remove Unnecessary Formatting

Remove any formatting that is not being used in your spreadsheet.

Excel files can get bulky when there’s a lot of extra formatting hanging around. This includes things like fancy fonts, colors, and borders that aren’t essential. By clearing out this excess, you’re giving your file a much-needed diet.

Step 2: Delete Unused Cells, Rows, and Columns

Get rid of any cells, rows, or columns that are not in use.

Sometimes, Excel will keep track of cells that are no longer in use, which can add to the file size. If you’ve got rows and columns that are just taking up space, it’s time to say goodbye.

Step 3: Compress Images and Objects

If you have any images or objects in your Excel file, reduce their size or resolution.

Images and objects can be real space hogs. By compressing them or reducing their resolution, you can save a significant amount of space without affecting the overall quality of your spreadsheet too much.

Step 4: Save as Binary Workbook

Save your file as an Excel Binary Workbook (.xlsb) instead of the default Excel Workbook (.xlsx) format.

The Excel Binary Workbook format is a more compact way of storing data, which can lead to a smaller file size. This won’t change how you work with your spreadsheet, but it can make a big difference in file size.

Step 5: Remove Pivot Table Cache

If you’re using pivot tables, clear the pivot table cache to remove old data that’s no longer being displayed.

Pivot tables are fantastic for summarizing data, but they can also store a lot of unnecessary information in the background. Clearing the cache can help keep your file lean and mean.

After completing these steps, you should notice that your Excel file is significantly smaller, which will make it easier to manage and share. Remember, a leaner file is a happier file!

Tips to Reduce Excel File Size

  • Consider using simpler formulas where possible; complex formulas can bloat file size.
  • Turn off automatic calculations if they’re not needed; they can slow down your file.
  • Use Excel’s data tools, like ‘Data Validation’ and ‘Conditional Formatting’, sparingly.
  • Keep your spreadsheet tidy by regularly deleting any unused worksheets.
  • Regularly save your file while reducing its size to avoid losing any progress.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between an Excel Workbook and an Excel Binary Workbook?

An Excel Workbook is the default file format for Excel files, while an Excel Binary Workbook is a more compact file format that can help reduce file size.

Can reducing the file size affect the functionality of my Excel file?

Generally, reducing the file size shouldn’t affect the functionality of your file, as long as you’re careful not to remove any important data or features.

How often should I clean up my Excel files?

It’s a good idea to clean up your Excel files regularly, especially if you’re constantly adding new data or making changes.

Can I reduce the Excel file size without saving it as a Binary Workbook?

Yes, you can reduce the file size by removing unnecessary formatting, deleting unused cells, and compressing images without changing the file format.

What should I do if I accidentally delete important data while reducing the file size?

If you’ve saved your file recently, you can use Excel’s ‘Undo’ feature to revert the changes. Otherwise, it’s always a good idea to back up your files before making any significant changes.


  1. Remove Unnecessary Formatting
  2. Delete Unused Cells, Rows, and Columns
  3. Compress Images and Objects
  4. Save as Binary Workbook
  5. Remove Pivot Table Cache


Reducing the size of an Excel file isn’t just about making it easier to send via email—it’s about enhancing the overall efficiency of your workflow. No one likes waiting around for a bulky file to open or dealing with storage issues, so taking the time to slim down your spreadsheets can pay off in the long run. These steps and tips are straightforward and easy enough for anyone to follow, so don’t hesitate to give them a try. Remember, the key is to be mindful of what you truly need in your file and to get rid of the excess. With a little bit of tidying up and some clever saving techniques, you’ll have leaner, more manageable Excel files in no time. So go on, give your spreadsheets the makeover they deserve, and enjoy the simplicity and speed that comes with a reduced Excel file size.

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