Use startup folders in Excel

For information about Excel 2010, Excel for Mac 2011, and later versions, see the following articles:


This step-by-step article describes how to use the Microsoft Excel startup folders. Excel uses startup folders in two ways:

  • To load Excel workbooks at startup.
  • As a reference location for templates.

The actual startup folder locations vary, depending on which version of Excel you use.

Folders that Excel uses at startup

If you install Excel in the default location, Excel opens files from the following paths:

  • C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\<Office1x>\Xlstart


    The <Office1x> boilerplate represents the version number (Microsoft Office Excel 2007 is Office12 and Microsoft Office Excel 2003 is Office11)

  • C:\Documents and Settings\<User_name>\Application Data\Microsoft\Excel\XLSTART

    In this path, <User_name> is your logon user name.

  • The folder that is specified in the At startup, open all files in box.


    • To find the At startup, open all files in box in Excel 2003, click Options on the Tools menu, and then click the General tab.

    • To find the At startup, open all files in box in Excel 2007, click Microsoft Office Button, click Excel Options, and then click Advanced. The At startup, open all files in box is under General.

Accepted file types during Excel startup

You typically use startup folders to load Excel templates and add-ins. You can also use startup folders to load workbooks. When you load the following types of files from a startup folder, the files have the important characteristics that are described in the following list.


If you save a workbook named Book.xlt, and then put it in a startup folder location, that workbook is the default workbook when you start Excel or open a new workbook.

To use additional templates, you must save them in the following folder:

C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Templates\1033

To use the templates in Excel 2003, follow these steps:

  1. On the File menu, click New.
  2. In the New Workbook task pane, click On my computer under Templates.
  3. In the Templates dialog box, double-click the template for the type of workbook that you want to create on the Spreadsheet Solutions tab.

To use the templates in Excel 2007, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Microsoft Office Button, and then click New.
  2. Under Templates, click Installed Templates.
  3. Under Installed Templates, click the template that you want, and then click Create.


Add-ins (.xla files) that you put in a startup folder do not typically appear when you start Excel. The add-ins are loaded in memory. The add-ins run any auto macros.

You can use these add-ins by whatever method the add-in provides (for example, a command on a menu or a button on a toolbar).


Workbooks (.xls files) that you put in a startup folder are loaded and appear when you start Excel, unless the workbook is saved in a hidden state.

For example, the personal macro workbook Personal.xls is a global macro workbook that Excel typically loads from the XLStart folder in a hidden state.

Incorrect use of the alternative startup file location

When you use the alternative startup file location, you must specify a file path where there are recognizable file types (such as templates, add-ins, and workbooks).

If Excel finds unrecognizable file types in a startup folder, you may receive an error message. The most common error message is:

This file is not a recognizable format.

Use the default file location

In addition to the alternative startup file location, the default file location can be set by using the Default file location box on the General tab in the Options dialog box in Excel 2003.

The default file location differs from a startup folder. It can set the folder location that you want Excel to point to when you open or save a file by using the File menu.


In Excel 2007, to see the default file location, follow these steps:

  1. Click Microsoft Office Button, and then click Excel Options.
  2. Click Save.
  3. The Default file location box is under Save workbooks.