no links/VBA/addons, but : Microsoft excel waiting for another application to complete an ole action




Excel stops working about every 20 minutes for a few minutes -I just have to wait - and then this message pops up: ""microsoft excel waiting for another application to complete an ole action". Thereafter it works again, I can save etc., but it is highly interruptive and annoying. 


The excel files does not have any links, embedded files, not a single add-on is activated in excel. 

I have checked all the common hints that can be found, ticked "ignore other applications using DDE" in excel options, updated the office package, updated windows - nothing I have tried so far helps.

Again, the weird thing is that there are no embedded links or the like, and I have no idea what the reason could be for this error message to keep emerging.


Any advice is highly appreciated!  



31 Replies
Hi Helen,

I suspect there is a hidden link that you're not able to see via normal "Built in" Excel tools like DATA --> EDIT LINKS.
Sometimes these are buried in things like charts, that have been copied from one file to another.

Download an Excel add-in tool from Microsoft called "INQUIRE". That add-in allows you to interrogate the whole spreadsheet and reports ALL links. Then you should be able to remove them.



Thanks for suggestion however I want to keep links and I think there should be an option to terminate an OLE instance if a referenced application is closed for any reason and excel still needs it. I use Thomson Reuters add-in as an example and if I close TR for any reason and my spreadsheet has not finished use of the add-in it will just keep popping up the OLE waiting message ... basically hanging forever without possible remedy except ctrl/alt/del and terminate excel with possible consequence of losing work I have not saved.  Re-starting the application add-in by the way does not fix the issue until excel is terminated and re-started. Very frustrating. 


I have a non Thomson Reuters add-in that I guess hangs in the same way you mention.  Very frustrating as it only does it occasionally.  In my case I have to remember to either complete what I'm doing with the section I've added in and then switch to the add-in's main menu - this ensures it's in a steady state before I analyse my results or alternatively, I have to go to Excel's Data menu and disable the add-in temporarily whilst I do other analysis.  Afterwards, I re enable the add-in and close the workbook.   


I don't know any other way around this.


I guess the OLE does some kind of polling to ensure connection otherwise you could end up with broken links or worse calculations that are changed to values.  


So there is no fix for this OLE error?  Excel is literally doing this to me every day multiple times a day and it hangs my computer for about 3 minutes every time.  It is extremely annoying.


Usually but not always when I add a sheet into my master spreadsheet or open an excel file from my google filestream.  There has to be a fix, this is like... SUPER CLUNKY and its been driving me nuts for a year.  I have been using the same excel spreadsheet for my business for over 18 years now and this never used to happen



Try removing all add-ins to see if that helps.  If so, add them back (one at a time) to see if that points you to the issue.  Otherwise, the only other suggestion I have is Open a fresh Excel workbook.  Copy and paste each sheet into the new workbook then, turn on your add-ins.  Save the file as filename.xlsb

See if that helps.



Is your excel file stored in a shared drive? or is locally on your computer?

in case it is on a shared drive please try to move it to your computer to see if you have the same problem, in case the problem will not occur , you can try to upload it on SharePoint  to be "shared" with others.




This happens to me once a while after I close Excel. The notice either would not allow me to close the application or prevent me from opening it.

My workaround has always been to open up Task Manager and end all Excel sessions only. I found this to work all the time although a few times active files are closed and I lose some data. Nothing brutal so far.

Same problem for me.

Posting here since I don't know where to look for a solution anymore.

Hope Microsoft will take care of this very soon.


While the error message is always the same, there are actually a couple of pretty common scenarios that trigger this particular error in Microsoft Excel:

DDE protocol is deactivated in Excel - This problem can occur because the DDE protocol (Dynamic Data Exchange) is deactivated in the Excel settings.

Corrupt Office Installation - Some users have reported that the problem was resolved after reinstalling or repairing the entire Office installation.

Adobe Acrobat PDFMaker add-in conflicts with Excel - There have been some reports from users who were able to fix the problem by disabling or uninstalling the PDFMaker plug-in.

IE (Internet Explorer) process is interfering with the DDE - this usually occurs when the user tries to save a file in Microsoft Excel. In this case, the solution is to manually end the process.


Examble for DDE protocol, a quick guide.
Open Microsoft Excel and click on File.
It doesn't matter whether you're opening a new workbook or a new document.
Open Microsoft Excel and go to File
On the File menu in the left pane, click Options.
Go to File> Options
From the Excel Options menu in the left menu, click the Advanced tab.
Then move to the right pane and scroll down until you get to the General section.
Make sure that the Ignore other applications using Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE) check box is cleared.
Examble for Adobe Acrobat : In the COM Add-Ins box, either clear the check box for the Acrobat PDFMaker Office COM Add-in, or select it and click Remove to delete it completely.
Examble for IE explorer: Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open Task Manager.
Switch to the Processes tab in Task Manager and check whether an Internet Explorer process is currently active.
If one is open, just right click on it and choose End Task to close it.
End the Internet Explorer (IE) process
Return to Excel and see if the "Microsoft is waiting for another application to complete an OLE action" error still occurs when you try to save the file.
Wenn das alles nicht geholfen hat , dann hilft nur (maybe) die Unterdrückung von Excel Application Messaging mit VBA or turn off compatibility mode .

I would be happy to know if I could help.



I know I don't know anything (Socrates)


I had a user with this exact same issue, I ran the online repair cycle for Microsoft Office (we have O365) and rebooted, this fixed the issue.


Keep in mind that I removed Adobe Acrobat add-in but that didn't work, and I didn't adjust it again after the repair cycle was finished.@NikolinoDE 


All these excel files were located in GDrive, moved them to local folder at computer and everything is solved ! 

@ankkitThank you, this is what fixed the issue for me.  Moved files out of Google drive and OLE Action problem ended.

@EdGrahamV  We have been facing this issue since a long time. I have tried all the options like. Removing the add ins. Even I suspected that it may be due to Google Drive Files stream. But we are getting this error even for other excel files which are on Desktop. 


Any one with solution please help.



This did it for me! Thank you SOOOO much!!!!!

Update for context: @ankkit's reply regarding files located on Google File Stream / Google Drive was my issue resulting in the "waiting for OLE action" error. I tried disabling add-ins, but that wasn't the issue in my case. I probably shouldn't pass the buck on this one, but it should be brought to the attention of the respective MS and Google Product development teams.

Error: "Microsoft excel waiting for another application to complete an OLE action."

Cause: Certain Excel files being stored on Google Drive or Google File Stream.

Solution: Moving the files to a local drive or desktop (i.e. the hard drive).

I also suspected that the integration with Google Drive File Stream was causing this issue. Even after moving the working file to the desktop it would still wait for an OLE action to complete. As soon as I logged out from the Google Drive desktop app the problem went away. Of course, this is just a workaround, not a solution.



Please deactivate the add-ins in Excel and Word (via File> Options> Add-Ins> COM-Add-Ins> Go to / Go) and test the behavior.


If this does not help, set the check mark for hardware graphics acceleration in Word via File> Options> Advanced> Display and test the behavior.



If this doesn't help either, proceed as follows:

Login as administrator required


  1. Press the key combination Windows key + R on your keyboard. The Run dialog box opens.
  2. Enter the command appwiz.cpl and click OK.
  3. Find your Microsoft Office 365 in the list.
  4. Click on it with the right mouse button and select Change.
  5. Select Online Repair and click Repair.
  6. Wait until the repair is complete and restart your computer.
  7. Test the behavior of Office.

I wish you a lot of fun with Ecel.


If this information helped you, please mark this post as "Correct answer" and click on like (hand with thumbs up), so that other members can benefit from this information later.


I would be happy to know if I could help.



I know I don't know anything (Socrates)


This seems to correlate with the time that Microsoft apps started to replace pasted html links with names or thumbnails. It seems the app is trying to access the links at unexpected times to do whatever, but since I'm not on my company VPN at the time, the links become unreachable, causing all manner of havoc. I can't turn off this mysterious link accessing behavior.

I started having this same issue yesterday, trying to open my daily spreadsheet with no links or anything unusual - just a plain spreadsheet. I have my Excel files stored in MS OneDrive. Opening it on the website and downloading it to my computer allows me to open it, but this isn't optimal as I have a lot of files I use and my computer storage is limited. I will probably try deleting and reinstalling Office but not really sure why this would be an issue, all of a sudden. Worked fine on Sunday, problem on Monday. Very frustrating.

Unbelievable that this is still an issue in 2021. It takes too much debugging to figure out. I use several plug-ins and I can't do my job without them. Disabling them all to troubleshoot this is not something I can do. This is extremely intermittent for me. I'll go days or weeks without this error, and will then get it 3 times in one week. This latest instance I had pasted a chart to an Outlook message. I did not make any changes to it. I was using a temp Excel sheet that was not saved. All my sheets are saved on my MS OneDrive.

The only way I can use Excel again is to shut down all my apps and re-boot. That this error happens is bad enough. That there is not timeout or ignore option is simply unacceptable. It's essentially like having a Microsoft virus that is losing my work, corrupting my Excel files, and costing my far too much time. MS needs to fix this!