We have all encountered an Excel file that’s too large. The kind that takes minutes to open or save, so everything takes twice as long. Florence, Senior Consultant at UpSlide, has a few easy hacks up her sleeve that will help you reduce your Excel file size within seconds. Discover seven easy ways to compress Excel files in the article below.
There are many quick and easy ways to reduce your Excel file size.
We’ll walk you through how to remove conditional formatting and unnecessary formulas, crop worksheets to the used range, compress pictures in Excel, and more!
Plus, learn how to use UpSlide’s Smart Clean feature – which reduces your Excel file size by up to 99% in one click.
Audit a large Excel file
Before we show you how to reduce your Excel file size, we’d first like to share a quick tip on auditing an Excel workbook.
For finance professionals working in Transactional Services or Investment Banking, building models with tons of formulas, tables and sheets is the norm. However, the more comments, formulas, conditional formatting and hidden sheets you add, the heavier the Excel file gets.
You can easily discover which sheets are the heaviest in your Excel file. To do so, make a copy of your Excel file and follow these steps:
- Open the File Explorer where your Excel is saved
- Display file name extensions in the “View” tab
- Change your Excel file copy’s extension to “.zip”
- Then open the zipped folder and go to xl > worksheets
- Sort by size
Spotting the heaviest Excel sheets can help you choose which one to start with. For instance, “sheet26.xml” accounts for almost one-third of the global volume. Usually, it corresponds to the n+1 sheet in your Excel file. So, in the above example, we could start by trimming the twenty-seventh sheet.
Be careful! The n+1 rule takes into account hidden sheets. If you have a lot of hidden sheets, it can become tricky to find the right one. One way to know for certain you have the right sheet is to get the exact name. Here is the detailed guide for finding a sheet’s name.
Now, it’s time to dive into our seven tips for reducing an Excel file size:
Remove conditional formatting
Conditional formatting comes in handy when you need to highlight specific data. But it can quickly make your Excel file heavy. We suggest removing conditional formatting from your spreadsheet as soon as you are done with it. To do so, you must:
- Select some formatted cells on your sheet
- Go to the Home tab > Conditional formatting > Clear Rules > Clear from Selected Cells
If you want to remove conditional formatting from all of your cells, pick Clear Rules from Entire Sheet.
Crop each worksheet to its used range
Did you know that Excel sheets can have up to one million rows? A good way to reduce your Excel file size is to get rid of the empty rows and columns. Here’s how to do that:
- Select all unused rows and columns (Shortcut = Ctrl+Shift+Right/Down Arrow)
- Right-click > Delete
Remove unnecessary formulas
We all use Excel formulas to manipulate and combine data dynamically. But we often forget to remove them when they’re no longer needed.
Be sure to replace your formulas with their values to downsize your file and keep a record of your data. Here’s a quick way to do it:
- Select the cells you are working with (you can use the shortcut Ctrl+A to select your entire sheet)
- Copy and Paste Special: Values
This will also remove hyperlinks, which make your file heavy.
Compress pictures in Excel
The golden rule is to avoid having pictures in Excel. If you have to use pictures, it’s best practice to always compress them. Here’s how:
- Select the picture you wish to lighten
- Go to the Picture Format tab
- Click on Compress
- We recommend unchecking the first box Apply only on this picture to compress all pictures inside your Excel file
- Optional: you can choose the resolution you want (we recommend email).
Clear data formatting
Formatting enables the eye to naturally structure information. However, formatting your data also weighs your sheets down. If you’re running into difficulties loading a file, we recommend removing your formatting. Follow these few easy steps:
- Select all formatted rows, columns and cells that do not contain data
- Home > Editing > Clear Format
People who work on large files with many sheets and formulas know what watches are (not the one on your wrist!) Numerous watches will weigh down your spreadsheets. Once you’re done with them, a good practice is to remove them from your files:
- Go to Formula tab > Watch Window
- Select all and click Delete
IMPORTANT: We recommend you apply this step last, as it can break formulas and cannot be reversed! Make a copy beforehand.
Let’s start with sheets!
- Right-click on a sheet
- Select Unhide
- Repeat the previous steps for every sheet
Now let’s do the same with columns and rows:
- Select your entire sheet (Ctrl+A)
- Right-click on your rows/columns
- Click Unhide
Now that you can see your entire Excel file, you can delete all unnecessary sheets, columns and rows. Moreover, you can easily audit your Excel file to spot heavy sheets with the method we used at the beginning of the article.
BONUS: Reduce your Excel file size in one click
At UpSlide, we like to work on light files. That is why we created a feature that does the work for you: Smart Clean! It applies all the above tips in the blink of an eye. A single click on the UpSlide tab in Excel and your file will be as light as a feather.
This feature can reduce your Excel file size up to 99% of its initial weight!
Want to find out more about UpSlide’s features and how we help you save time on Microsoft Office?