What to do when your Excel worksheet won’t scroll

I have a monster Excel spreadsheet with tens of thousands of rows, correlated. Its gigabytes of data taught me a lot. Including things it wasn’t supposed to, like what to do when Excel won’t scroll.

This thing is pretty fragile. Among other things, the largest of the sheets will stop scrolling. The scrollbar on the right scrolls, but the display doesn’t move. And the arrow keys don’t work either. I can’t scroll down, I can’t scroll right, or do anything useful with the data.

But I stumbled on a quick solution.

When Excel won’t scroll, it’s probably Freeze Panes

Excel won't scroll
When Excel won’t scroll, the solution is hiding under this button on the ribbon.

I regularly freeze the top row on an Excel spreadsheet, so I know what I’m looking at. But this problem sometimes happens even when I don’t have the top row frozen. For some reason, Excel randomly freezes the panes on these worksheets from time to time.

So, when I click on a tab and the screen won’t scroll when I press my arrow keys or use the scrollbar, the solution is to click on View, select Freeze Panes, and select Unfreeze Panes. Now you’ll be able to scroll in Excel again, like magic.

Then, since I want the top row frozen, I scroll to the top, click on the top row, click Freeze Panes again, and select Freeze Top Row.

For the record, I don’t think avoiding use of freeze panes really prevents this problem. It’s a useful feature; it’s just that sometimes it gets enabled with goofy settings that cause a problem. Once you know the workaround, it’s still annoying but not a terribly big deal.

If you have the same problem, hopefully this solves it for you. This solution has been working for me for nearly 8 years.

If this tip helped you, I have a collection of a few dozen more Office tips and fixes I’ve collected over the years here.

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