Tuesday Tip: How to Fix: ‘Excel cannot complete this task with available resources. Choose less data or close other applications’

by Richard Stokes

I like to work in multiple spreadsheets and it’s not uncommon for me to have at least 2 instances of Excel 2010 open on my desktop.  In some cases I might actually have a couple of spreadsheets open within each instance.  If you want to learn how to quickly open multiple spreadsheets so you can view them side by side, check out my previous blog about ‘opening programs faster’ for that shortcut.

What has been happening is that when I go to open another spreadsheet I often get an error message that says: “Excel cannot complete this task with available resources. Choose less data or close other applications.”  To give you some perspective I am running a 2 year old business class workstation with Windows 7 Pro 32 bit, 4GB Ram and a Dual Core processor.  I share this to illustrate that ‘memory’ and ‘resources’ are definitely not the issue.

Now since our clients get all the attention from the Network 1 engineers, my fix to the issue has been to close all the spreadsheets and then reopen them to find that the issue miraculously disappears.  This is commonly known as a ‘work-around’ and once you’ve got a few of these going it takes time out of your day.  So last week, I’d finally had enough and I asked Shane (Network 1 engineer) to see if he could help.  Within 20 minutes he shared with me that this error appears to be tied to the Details Pane and Preview Pane feature in Windows 7.

After we turned it off, the problem has yet to rear its ugly head again!

So, if you are getting this error and want it fixed here’s what you do:

1) Open the Excel spreadsheet application
2) Click ‘File’ and ‘Open’



3) Click ‘Organize’ and ‘Layout’


4) Uncheck the ‘Details Pane’ and the ‘Preview Pane’ – To show the difference between the two, in the above screen shot I have unchecked the Preview Pane but not the Details Pane.  You will want to uncheck both.

That’s it – now get back to crunching numbers!

Richard Stokes: As the Director of Sales for Network 1, Richard identifies “future” clients that can benefit from the support of an experienced, outsourced IT team. He helps clients and prospects find technology solutions they need to achieve better productivity and efficiency so they can focus on making money and growing their businesses.

Network 1 designs, builds and supports the IT you need to run your business more securely, productively and successfully. Whether you want to outsource all of your IT needs to a reliable, responsive, service-oriented company, or need to supplement the work of your internal IT staff, we will carefully evaluate where you are now, discuss where you want to go and implement and support a plan to get you there with as little interruption as possible.


  1. Roy Giddens on November 21, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    Looks like this fix actually worked, at lest so far. Keeping my fingers crossed because I constantly need two instances of Excel open, one on each monitor. Just started getting this dumb error in the past couple of weeks and a Google search brought me here. Thanks.

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