Hide and Seek – #Excel Workbook

Excel Tip - Unhide workbook

Have you ever had this experience with #Excel?  Someone sent you a workbook that is empty!  What I mean empty here is not that there is no content in the workbook.  You know that there are lots of data in the workbook but somehow you just could not see a single worksheet, row, or columns in the workbook.  The following GIF demonstrates the situation:

Excel Tip - Unhide workbook1

The workbook is opened, with no worksheet.  NO, not a single one.  Almost all the icons on the ribbon were grayed out, meaning you cannot select them.  Even though there a few, yes just a few, icons that you can click on… the next level icons are also dimmed.

What happened to the workbook?

Nothing…… just someone hide the workbook for some reasons…

Let’s unhide the workbook and see the contents of it.

Go to View tab –> Window group –> Unhide –> Select the workbook to unhide

Excel Tip - Unhide workbook2

As simple as this. 🙂

You may download a Sample File to see if you can unhide the workbook.

Note: if you have Personal Macro , you will also see it in the “Unhide Workbook” dialogue box.


You may wonder how to hide a workbook in the first place?  

Here’s how:

Go to View Tab –> Window group –> Hide

Excel Tip - Unhide workbook1

Yes.  You just hide your workbook.  But wait… how can I save it?

Interestingly, when the workbook is hidden, you cannot Save, or Save As.  These icons are grayed out.   Same case in the QAT.

Excel Tip - Unhide workbook2

Excel Tip - Unhide workbook3

So how can we save the file?

Simply close the file by clicking the “X” on the upper right corner, then you will be prompted to Save it or not.Excel Tip - Unhide workbook4


Honestly, I don’t see a practical use of hiding a workbook…. What’s the point of sending a hidden workbook to others??  Maybe on April Fool.  😛

If you have a practical use case for this, please leave your comments.


About MF

An Excel nerd who just transition into a role related to data analytics at current company......😊 Recently in love with Power Query and Power BI.😍 Keep learning new Excel and Power BI stuffs and be amazed by all the new discoveries.
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1 Response to Hide and Seek – #Excel Workbook

  1. David N says:

    If you use a Personal — e.g. PERSONAL.xlsb — workbook to house VBA subroutines and custom functions, then you might want to hide that workbook so that you don’t see an extra/empty workbook that’s always open.


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