Speed up Excel 2007 startup

The Problem

If Excel isn't running already, double-clicking a file will start Excel itself almost immediately, but the clicked file will be loaded only after about one minute.

The Solution

At least on Windows XP the problem can be solved as described below.

  1. Application Explorer
  2. Menu Tools
  3. Menu item Folder Options
  4. Tab File Types
  5. List item XLS
  6. Button Advanced
  7. List item Open
  8. Button Edit...

In the dialog box that appears you need to make two adjustments:

Application to perform action:
At the end of the line after /e append a space character followed by "%1" (including the quotes)
DDE Application Not Running:
Insert new text: [rem see command line] (including the brackets)

Details

We experienced the problem after updating to MS Office 2007. My father noticed that an Excel sheet gets loaded immediately if you include the path of EXCEL.EXE in the command line. Loading documents via DDE, as Explorer does it, seems to take much more time, at least if the application is not already running. The modifications described above will pass the file path immediately when the application is started, the DDE command that gets executed later on is only a remark, as an empty field would result in passing the default action from two lines above that field. The /e seems to ensure that Excel will not open an empty sheet, so I originally dropped that because usually no empty sheet is opened when a file is specified. However I got a report from someone using /e, and as it didn't cause any harm for me either, I now suggest to leave it in place. If Excel is running already, additional documents will be opened via DDE as before, resulting in only one Excel process running.

Word

Time and again I've been asked whether I knew a similar trick for Word. Even without any tricks Word starts fairly fast, but even there adding "%1" gave me a slight increase in startup speed. I don't exactly know what this [REM _DDE_Direct] is. It looks like some kind of "special comment", that could have some effect despite being a comment. I decided to copy that comment to the DDE Application Not Running box, and could not detect any ill effects. I also kept the /n and the /dde on the command line, simply because I could find no harm in it.

Uninstall

If you try out these suggestions, but they don't work out for you, reverting to the way it was before might prove more difficult than you would expect. It seems the dialog where you make your changes will always append a %1 to the command line when you press OK and it isn't present already. The only solution I could find was using regedit to remove the %1 without using the dialog. The command is stored under the default key at HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Excel.Sheet.8\shell\Open\command. If you choose to revert the DDE settins using regedit as well, you can simply remove the whole ddeexec\IfExec subtree.