Tabs in Excel Online worksheet move unexpectedly

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We use a shared Excel Online worksheet that is concurrently accessed by approx. 50 users.  The tabs are all named by date and we keep about 3 months of dates available at any time.  Periodically, the current date's tab will move for no reason to somewhere random (could be in an earlier or later date tab position).  The user's get confused when they are trying to find the current date and have to hunt through all the tabs to find it.  We then have to manually drag it back to its correct place in the tab timeline.  No one can recreate the problem.  Is there a setting we can turn on to activate tab locking?  Or has there been a problem reported in the past that a fix exists for?  Thanks in advance for your help.... 

49 Replies



I've had this problem reported by an number of teams in our organisation.  No idea why or how it's happening.  I came on here to see if there was any information.


@tstrueby , you may open that workbook in desktop client and protect the structure (Review->Protect Workbook)


That could be a bug, but having up to hundred sheets ans 50 users they could move sheets unintentionally from time to time, it's easy to drag jumping from one sheet to another.

Thanks, @Sergei Baklan !  I took a rip at the Protect Workbook option on my desktop Excel and it does look like it will accomplish what I want to do.  Thanks for that tip! 


However, I still think there is some obscure key combination in Excel Online that causes tabs to move around unexpectedly.  I am confident that our user base is not intentionally dragging sheets to random locations but I cannot recreate the key sequence that causes it. 


I have seen times in this Excel Online worksheet when the cursor is not the standard pointer shape but is instead stuck in the "pointing finger" shape which is exactly the same shape it is when you hold down the left mouse button to drag a tab around in the worksheet.  I am not sure what causes the cursor to suddenly change to this pointing finger shape but I do know that once it is in that shape and you click on a different tab of the worksheet, the current sheet you have open moves next to the tab you just clicked.  That is almost certainly what is causing the issue but I cannot recreate the situation that causes the cursor to suddenly switch to a frozen pointing finger (sorry for the deep level of technical jargon on this description!).


Any thoughts on this theory and a possible cause/resolution?




@Sergei BaklanOh good tip about protecting the structure, thanks

@Sergei BaklanI'm having the same issue however I can't lock the workbook this way as other users in my organisation need to add tabs. Not only do tabs randomly move somewhere else in the workbook but when we open a workbook, the view is an inactive part of a random tab with empty cells.


When working offline previously we could save a workbook on the appropriate section of a tab and the recipient would see this when they open. I cannot work out how to do the same with the online version.

@Sergei BaklanI've encountered the same problem, and I've been searching for a solution for months. I'm one of only two users in the spreadsheet where it happens most frequently, so I am certain it's not another user moving tabs. Like the OP I've tried to recreate the problem but have been unsuccessful. I'll be in one tab, entering data, then I'll click over to another program (check my email, for example). When I click back to Excel Online, I'm still in the same tab. But as soon as I click a different tab, the old tab moves next to the new tab I clicked on, and I'm forced to drag it back where it belongs. Locking the sheet isn't an option for me, as worksheets must be added and removed frequently.


Just wanted to add my voice to others having this problem.

Also having this same issue with shared Excel files in OneDrive

@tstrueby They seem to rearrange themselves in alphabetical order. I have a spreadsheet with six tabs in two week intervals. I've found that adding an "a" "b" "c" to the beginning of the dates keeps them in the correct order.  Hope this helps!

@DocControlJessUnfortunately, that doesn't help. In fact, I'm actively *trying* to keep my worksheets in alphabetical order ... that's how I know (and why it's so frustrating) when Excel Online suddenly moves one. Just yesterday I was working along and everything was fine. I clicked into another window and worked in Outlook for awhile - when I returned to Excel Online the "Vistar" worksheet I'd been working in (that had been sitting between "Varidesk" and "Xerox" was suddenly up with my "C" vendors - between the "Canteen" and "Convergint" tabs. Super frustrating trying to drag it back where it belongs when working with multiple tabs (sheets) in one workbook.

@tstrueby Did you find a solution for this in the meantime ? 

I have 2 users who just started using Teams and they are facing this problem. 

Tabs randomly move and are not sorted alphabetically so nothing to go on here. 

Many thanks already ! 

Looking forward to your reply. 

Sorry, @benjamingenne - no solution yet.  Based on the comments by other users on this thread, I am convinced something is not working as it should but no solution has been developed.  We are still manually moving tabs back to their proper spots in our shared worksheets when we notice them moved elsewhere for no reason. 

@tstrueby Thank you for your reply ! 

Looking forward to a solution then. They will need to manually move if it then if needed. 


I have noticed this behaviour when exporting multiple tabs to PDF - Excel always moves one of the tabs to the leftmost position after exporting to pdf. I think it is a bug.


I am selecting the tabs in the add/remove pop-up after selecting Export from the File Ribbon

So, I finally figured this out I believe, at least for us. When you open an Excel Doc in a web browser, and click on a tab, it automatically puts you in "move tab". You have to click twice on a tab to switch to it without being in "move tab". Not sure if this is an Excel bug or a Browser bug (Chrome in my case). But protecting the workbook structure fixes it, or just using it in desktop mode.

Have the sale issue. In Google Chrome or in Teams app - everything the same..


I don't know if you will still get this but please could you explain your workaround?


I just noticed the same. I'm having the same issue and realized the sheets kept moving even while trying to reorganize them by date. Single clicking the sheet name automatically turns on the "reorder tab". 

I'm having the same problem.  Just started today after months of building this online workbook.  Tabs have a mind of their own, all of a sudden.   They rearrange their order randomly.    I am wasting a lot of time putting them back in order.   Microsoft tech support blamed my ISP (first tech) and my browser (second tech).  I doubt both.