Excel v. 16.32 update running very slow on Mac OS Catalina

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I am working with a very simple .xlsx file (301kb) that has no formulas active. The file was working normally (i.e. smooth scrolling, no lag on entry of data into cells) until the recent update to v16.32. 

Now, when working in this very small file, Excel is lagging very noticeable on scrolling, panning, navigation through cells with the arrow keys or tab key, and text/data input is also lagging. 

No other system components have been updated or changed with the exception of Microsoft Office updates. It is impossible to work on the file with current Excel behavior. 

I too am experiencing poor performance from Excel for Mac V16.32.19120802 on an 84KB file with multiple worksheets used for tracking financial account registers and account balances. Similar to Michail's experience with scrolling, changing from one worksheet to another, clicking through cells, text and data entry. There are some active formulas, but nothing esoteric. I too am on Mac OS Catalina, Version 10.15.2

I have already attempted creating a new spreadsheet from the original template, and inputting the data from scratch rather than just copying and pasting from the previous file.  I am seeing beachballing icons and extremely slow response from Excel, when no other programs are running in the background.  Most surprising is that this poor Excel performance is occurring on a 6 month old iMac Pro, with 32Gb of ram, a 1TB SSD HD, with all current software updates.  I have run the exact same 84KB Excel file on my 2013 MacBook Pro (Mojave OS), which is using the Excel version from the MS Office Home and Business 2011, with zero scrolling, beachballing or other slow response problems.

I've run complete diagnostics on the iMac Pro using TechTool Pro and EtreCheckPro. EtreCheck reported the following:

Diagnostics Information:

2020-01-02 20:13:05 Microsoft Excel.app - High CPU Use (5 times)

Executable: /Applications/Microsoft Excel.app

Event:            cpu usage

Action taken:     none

CPU:              90 seconds cpu time over 131 seconds (69% cpu average), exceeding limit of 50% cpu over 180 seconds

CPU limit:        90s

Limit duration:   180s

CPU used:         90s

CPU duration:     131s

Duration:         131.31s

Duration Sampled: 124.62s

Steps:            50

Hardware model:   iMacPro1,1

Active cpus:      16

I have concluded that there appears to be a problem with Excel V16.32 when running on Mac Catalina OS. the EtreCheck iMacPro cpu resource diagnostic report includes 4 pages of highly technical diagnostic results, most of which is beyond my comprehension. I am willing to share the complete report with Microsoft Technical support if that could help isolate and resolve the poor performance that some of us are experiencing with the Excel product.


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Glad it worked.

 I also, subsequently to my last message to you, found that I had to uninstall Office 33 before installing Office 31 to get it corrected.  That is what I had done successfully originally (from 32), but the person who originally suggested this cure to me later said he was successful at just installing Excel 31 over the Office 33 suite.

  I tried this after trying the upgraded 33 to see if it fixed my problem with 32 (where I started when I bought the Office upgrade).  33 wasn't a fix and when I tried the shortcut of installing only Excel 31 over 33 it didn't work.  Might be something different between his setup and mine. Sorry I suggested the shortcut to others!

  Anyway, it is definitely those files with lots of text that go south the fastest and get progressively slower and slower until they just quit.

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Hi Gloria,

I did reboot my iMac into the Safe Mode, and have verified that the View option for the worksheets is set to "Normal". There was no change or improvement. I have not witnessed any similar issue in other Excel documents, although most other Excel documents I use are more database oriented, and not as financially focused (i.e., the others have few formulas, if any, compared to the "Credit Account Register" file that is exhibiting the issues).

I am not experiencing any performance issues with the other Office applications: Word, PowerPoint, Outlook. Only the "Credit Account Register" file is showing the momentary beachball spinning icon as I click on different worksheet tabs, or while selecting cells on a worksheet after scrolling up or down in the document. My wife is actually the primary user of this file used to track and monitor our household financial transactions.  When we got the iMac Pro (requiring an upgrade from Office for Mac 2011 to Office for Mac 2019 due to the 64kb version needed to run in Catalina), she immediately noticed the slowness of navigation while entering data on the worksheets and switching between worksheet tabs.  Since this is not a 365 subscription-based version of Office, I've been diligent about ensuring that the latest updates to the Office software have been installed. Neither the periodic updates to Office or updates to the Mac OS have made any difference to the strangely slow performance of navigation and data entry in Excel.  

As I mentioned in my initial post, there are no similar performance issues observed when I send the Credit Account Register file to my MacBook, which is running on MacOS Mojave V10.14.6 with Excel for Mac 2011 V 14.7.7. I can navigate and make entries as quickly as I can scroll, access a cell and type. I never see a spinning beachball icon making me pause before I can move on.

Also, to answer Jim Gordon's question (below) about whether conditional formatting is in use on the worksheets, the answer is that there are 2 conditional formatting rules as show it the following screen shot:

I don't think these two rules would be the cause of the laggy navigation in and between the worksheets on the file. I will try and capture a short video screenshot of the beachball icon experience and will post it in this thread.

UPDATE:  After much researching and experimentation, I have uncovered the solution to the laggy screen navigation and data entry on my Excel "Credit Account Register" file on my iMac Pro.  The beachball icon is no longer appearing when switching between worksheets in the file, or clicking on cells to create or edit data.  The level of performance now matches (and likely exceeds) that experienced on my MacBook Pro.

The answer was to simply go into the Excel Preferences page, click on the Error Checking feature, and to uncheck the option to "Turn on background error checking".  Once that was done, there was immediate improvement with navigation and data entry into the Excel file.  I did verify that the option on my MacBook running Mojave with Office 2011 still has the Error Checking option checked, with no adverse performance effects on the exact same Excel file.  However, with the iMac Pro running Catalina with Office 2019, there is a profound slowdown experienced unless the background error checking option is disabled. 

While I would prefer leaving the Error Checking option enabled, we'll learn to adjust to it being turned off rather than suffer the consequences of poor speed performance, and the ongoing appearance of the spinning beachball icon. Perhaps the issue will be addressed and corrected in future updates to the Excel application.

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Last updated August 5, 2020 Views 2,428 Applies to: