Phantom Photos: Images Duplicate Themselves Randomly in Excel Files Stored In SharePoint

Copper Contributor

I’ve spoken with Microsoft Excel customer support about this and there are no other known instances of the problem my team and I are having with two of our templates, which I designed myself from scratch about a year ago. They suggested I post this thread to a handful of forums, in hopes that some awesome software genius out there can help me out. 

One crucial thing to note before I get into the detail of what’s happening is that we *only* encounter the issue once the file(s) are uploaded to SharePoint and accessed via a web browser (as opposed to opening from synced folder in Windows Explorer). In other words, if the file is saved locally on the machine or our internal server, the issue does not occur. Another thing to note is that it doesn’t *always* happen, and I haven’t been able to pinpoint the exact timing of when it actually takes place, since it’s an “invisible” problem. Which will make sense by the time you get to the end of this post. Anyways… 

The two workbooks I designed each serve very different purposes, but are alike in the sense that they’re set up to automatically create a print-friendly, clean, professional looking report, the PDF form of which is the finished product that we send to our clients. These templates have about 20 separate tabs a piece, but we’re only going to focus on the three that are relevant to my problem. Those are: 

1st Tab: Deal Inputs – This is where users enter/drop all the raw data for any given project, and set preferences for how things should calculate/display, etc. The sheet includes a bunch of stuff, but the problem I’m having only involves three ranges of merged cells. I’ve defined each of these separately as named ranges: ClientLogo, FrontCover, and BackCover. A different photo (jpg/png) gets inserted in each of the three named ranges, and sized to fill the entire range, horizontally and vertically. Moving on… 

2nd Tab: Front Cover – This where the problem starts. It’s also page 1 of the final package we PDF and send to the client. When I first designed this template in Excel, after creating the Named Ranges listed above, I then inserted two new photos onto the Cover tab. I sized those appropriately to fit well with the rest of the auto-generated content included on the cover page (which also pulls from the Deal Inputs Sheet, among other places). After inserting, I selected the 4th photo just inserted, and in the formula bar (with the *photo* on the cover tab selected, I typed my reference to the first named range: =ClientLogo. I hit enter, and yay – my thumbnail client photo image that’s plugged into the Deal Inputs tab automatically takes the place of the original 4th image inserted, and is properly sized/positioned within the cover itself automatically. 

I repeat the same process for the 5th photo I’ve inserted on the Cover tab, only for this one, I reference the 2nd named range: =FrontCover. Once again, the thumbnail from Deal inputs takes the original image’s place on the cover, and automatically resizes to fit the page.

3rd Tab: Back Cover – The problem continues here, and like the Front Cover, I followed the same process to initially set up the automatic back cover image here, using a 6th photo inserted on the Back Cover tab. This one references the third named range from Deal Inputs: =BackCover. 

PROBLEM: Once the file is uploaded to/accessed from SharePoint via web browser by my colleagues and I, seemingly at random, I’ll notice that the file size has suddenly become massive (the first time I caught this, it was over 35mb, and usually is only ~6kb). Unless you’re paying attention to the file size, it’s impossible to see that there’s even a problem, which is that the “auto-pics” on the front and back cover tabs are duplicating themselves, seemingly at random, one on top of the other (so you can’t ever *see* there’s more than one image until you select the what appears to be the only one and drag to either side and reposition it, revealing a replica of it beneath where the one on top was moved from. If others on my team who are less Excel-savvy access the file multiple times daily over the span of a few weeks but it’s been a while since I’ve opened it myself, the images sometimes wind up having been duplicated literally THOUSANDS of times over. To fix it/clean up the file size, I just need to do a simple ‘Select All Objects’ and press delete, but my God if it’s not annoying AF. 

The original/source photos that users insert onto the Deal Inputs tab are never duplicated. *MY* company logos are never duplicated on the Front Cover or Back Cover sheets (because those are also just regular photos dropped onto the worksheets, rather than photos auto-generated via reference to named range. It’s only those three ‘Result Photos’ contained on the covers - =ClientLogo, =FrontCover, and =BackCover. And again, it *only* happens in versions that are shared/saved to SharePoint.

Someone PLEASE help me figure out what is causing this. If you open the attachment, note that it only includes the three tabs I am referencing, so links/some named ranges/conditional formatting will be disabled.

21 Replies



I have exact same problem with linked pictures duplicating themselves.



This happens on files that are stored on OneDrive only.


Running Office 365 , 64 bit version


Have you already found the solution? I am having the same trouble as you and the document is getting very slow to operate

@MiBel_ @kmnotorius 


Happy to find this thread, have been having the same issue with one file exceeding 590MB.


The only resolution at this time appears to be to delete the duplicate objects.  At least this can help to retain the original file.


Has anyone found the cause of this issue?

Very good description of the issue in original post.

I too, have this issue in OneDrive.

Is anybody here able to log a ticket with Microsoft?

 @kmnotorius  2022 and still having this problem.  Files are saved to SharePoint.  Duplication only happens when certain users access the file, so I'm assuming it's a problem with their computer, not all computers.  Any linked photos or photos using the camera tool are duplicated each time the user accesses that file.  If it is not caught quickly, the accumulation becomes so large that the file begins to work slowly. If it gets out of hand, the only way to fix it is to delete the tab because excel will lock up trying to select all objects and delete.  

@kvpool  I found that I could open the file in Excel 365 on the web browser and delete duplicate images.  Trying to open some of the files in desktop application would result in lockup like you mention.

@cwoodley Thanks! I'll remember that for future reference. Right now I just go in manually to the documents with this problem and delete before it gets out of control. Meanwhile, I need to come up with some sort of power automate or script to go in once a week and remove the extras on a schedule. Hopefully once we get everyone upgraded, that will solve the problem.

@kvpool ... Yup. Still happening on my end also, although, less frequently. I completely agree - it seems to only take place when *certain* users open the file, but even in cases where those users open, it doesn't always happen. As far as they've been able to recount, they're not doing anything differently at any given time, so I've still been unsuccessful in pin-pointing which key strokes/mouse clicks/operations are responsible for the issue. Very frustrating. 

I do find that one of the "easier" fixes/ways to manage the problem before it gets out of hand is to open the selection pane from time to time, and look for duplicate names of photos. In the event it's happened again, it's much easier to select and delete the duplicates from the selection pane, rather than clicking on the duplicate photos themselves and deleting. 

Back when I originally posted this thread, I'd already logged several tickets. Been back and forth with Microsoft techs, on screen share, on the phone, via emails... I even shared one of the files with them that I hadn't gone ahead and deleted the duplicates, just so they could see the fact that they existed. Problem is, they can't duplicate the problem on their end, and neither can I. Seems like it just "happens" and there's no way to see Excel "in the act" of doing it, in real time. VERY FRUSTRATING.
I have also found, that sometimes the copied images have the same name as originals and sometimes the name is just Picture****(in the selection pane).
I am experiencing, that when there are more people working on such a document simultaneously, it is more likely to be copied.
It seems to be related to autosave with linked images.
It seems like it might be related to autosave. Some people are reporting that the issue stopped when they turned off autosave.

Has anyone found the issue I am facing the same problem and yes the file is on Onedrive/Sharepoint. is there any permanent solution to it?

MiBel - If your file is running slowly, I've found that deleting the duplicate photos does resolve the slowness (albeit if only temporarily, until they've duplicated themselves again). Unfortunately, still no resolution.
Yup... and looking like the issue will continue to persist into 2023 (and beyond). At one point, I also believed it may have something to do with the computers certain users are using to access/edit, and that perhaps running older versions of Office was the culprit... but my entire team has since been upgraded to Windows 11/new laptops with the latest Office installations, and it's still happening. So think we've ruled that explanation out, unfortunately.

Same problem using the camera tool. Images pile up until the spreadsheet slows to a crawl. The images are perfectly aligned so it's not readily apparent.

April 2023 and I am having this same issue with linked shapes, file is saved on sharepoint, Microsoft 365 64 bit. The duplicate shapes are sometimes perfectly aligned, sometimes offset. Frequently the duplicates are not able to be deleted/interacted with until something magic happens - I close out, open it back up, try deleting the surrounding rows, and usually by then I can delete them.



I didn't find a reason for this. I draw a solution, though.

For my specific worksheet I listed in a table which images are "real" and coded a VBA macro that deletes any image not listed there and any duplicated image.


So the steps would be:

1. Tag your images

2. Create a table and list all of them

3. Create a sub and call this sub every worksheet.activate event



Sub DeleteUnlistedAndDuplicateImages()
    Dim ws As Worksheet
    Dim img As Shape
    Dim tbl As ListObject
    Dim tblRange As Range
    Dim nameList As Range
    Dim imgName As String
    Dim foundMatch As Boolean
    Dim imgCount As Integer
    'set worksheet to the active sheet
    Set ws = ActiveSheet
    'set table to the first table in the worksheet
    Set tbl = ws.ListObjects("tblImages")
    'set table range to include only the name column
    Set tblRange = tbl.ListColumns("Image").DataBodyRange
    'loop through all shapes in the worksheet
    For Each img In ws.Shapes
        'check if the shape is an image
        If img.Type = msoPicture Then
            'get the name of the image
            imgName = img.Name
            'set foundMatch flag to false
            foundMatch = False
            'loop through the name column in the table
            For Each nameList In tblRange
                'compare the image name with the name in the table
                If imgName = nameList.Value Then
                    foundMatch = True
                    Exit For
                End If
            Next nameList
            'if a match is not found, delete the image
            If Not foundMatch Then
                'if a match is found, count the number of times the image appears in the worksheet
                imgCount = 0
                For Each img2 In ws.Shapes
                    If img2.Type = msoPicture And img2.Name = imgName Then
                        imgCount = imgCount + 1
                    End If
                Next img2
                'if the image appears more than once, delete all duplicates except for the first one
                If imgCount > 1 Then
                    For i = 2 To imgCount
                        For Each img2 In ws.Shapes
                            If img2.Type = msoPicture And img2.Name = imgName Then
                                Exit For
                            End If
                        Next img2
                    Next i
                End If
            End If
        End If
    Next img
End Sub