What To Do When Worksheet Tabs Go Missing

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By David Ringstrom, CPA

It can be disconcerting when you open an Excel workbook that has several worksheets, but you only see single worksheet. If this happens, your "missing" worksheets may be hiding in plain sight due to a simple Excel setting. In addition to restoring vanished worksheet tabs, I'll also describe a couple of techniques for navigating workbooks easier, as well as other ways to find hidden worksheets.
Typically, within an Excel workbook you'll see worksheet tabs along the bottom of the screen, but it's also possible to hide the worksheet tabs, as shown in Figure 1. To manage this setting:
  • Excel 2010/2013: As shown in Figure 2, choose File, Options, and then enable the Show Sheet Tabs setting in the Display Options section of the Advanced options.
  • Excel 2007: Click the Office button, choose Excel Options, and then then enable the Show Sheet Tabs setting in the Display Options section of the Advanced options.
  • Excel 2003 and earlier: Choose Tools, Options, Display, and then Show Sheet Tabs.
  • Excel 2011 for Mac: Choose Excel, Preferences, View, and then Show Sheet Tabs. 
Figure 1: You may encounter workbooks where the worksheet tabs aren't visible.
Figure 2: The Show Sheet Tabs setting determines whether or not worksheet tabs are visible.
Another scenario you may encounter is shown in Figure 3. In Excel 2010 and earlier, it's relatively easy to inadvertently arrange a spreadsheet window so that the worksheet tabs aren't present on the screen, even if the Show Sheet Tabs option is enabled. If this occurs, as shown in the figure, you can double-click on the workbook's name to maximize the window and restore your workbook tabs. In Excel 2013 if you can't see the worksheet tabs, simply double-click on the words "Microsoft Excel" at the top of the window to maximize Excel's application window.
Figure 3: Excel windows sometimes get arranged such that workbook tabs aren't visible.
Regardless of whether you can see the actual tabs, you can use a keyboard shortcut to navigate between worksheets within a workbook. To do so, press Ctrl-Page Up to activate the adjacent worksheet to the left or press Ctrl-Page Down to activate the next worksheet to the right.
Assuming that the Show Sheet Tabs option is enabled, another way to navigate within a workbook is to right-click on the navigation arrows in the lower left-hand corner of the screen, as shown in Figure 4. This displays a hidden menu from which you can select any visible worksheet in the workbook. Excel 2013 offers some helpful improvements to this Activate menu, as all worksheets are displayed in a single dialog box, and you can select a worksheet by typing the first letter of a sheet name. In Excel 2010 and earlier, the Activate menu initially displays up to 16 worksheets, requiring you to choose More Sheets to display an expanded list. Further, in Excel 2010 and earlier you must choose a desired sheet name with your mouse, as the menu cannot be accessed by way of keystrokes as is possible in Excel 2013.
Figure 4: Right-click on the navigation arrows in any version of Excel to display a list of worksheets.
In other cases, your worksheet tabs may be present, but a worksheet still appears to be missing. If so, the first place to check is to see if the worksheet has been hidden. In Excel 2007 and later, you can right-click on any worksheet tab and choose Unhide. If the Unhide command is disabled, there most likely aren't any hidden worksheets in the workbook, but there's a way you can determine this categorically.
You can also access the Unhide Sheet command through Excel's main menu:
  • Excel 2007 and later: On the Home tab, choose Format, Hide and Unhide, and then Unhide Sheet.
  • Excel 2003 and earlier: Choose Format, Sheet, and then Unhide.
  • Excel 2011 for Mac: From the main menu, choose Format, Sheet, and then Unhide. The Format command on the Home tab of the ribbon doesn't allow you to unhide worksheets.
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If the Unhide sheet is disabled, you can't necessarily assume that there are no hidden worksheets within a workbook. Savvy users rely on a little-known xlSheetVeryHidden setting to hide worksheets in plain sight.
Read more articles by David Ringstrom. 
About the author:

David H. Ringstrom, CPA heads up Accounting Advisors, Inc., an Atlanta-based software and database consulting firm providing training and consulting services nationwide. Contact David at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter. David speaks at conferences about Microsoft Excel, and presents webcasts for several CPE providers, including AccountingWEB partner CPE Link.



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Thank you kindly - Great advice

Thanks, Ned! I appreciate the feedback!

This is excellent advice. As a paper coordinator of several distance papers that use excel workbooks for assignments, I often have to help students who have 'lost ' the tabs. You explain it very well.

This is one of the most thoughtful responses I've received for one of my articles. Thank you so much!

THANK YOU!!! You are a life saver!

I'm so glad you found my article helpful. Thank you!

Dave - thanks for the advice - except that in my case it doesn't seem to work. I have followed your instructions meticulously and have observed how happy other users of your advice are.

My problem is as follows:

A spread sheet that I have used for quite a while, suddenly appears without showing:
1.Bottom Tabs
2.Top Cell Alphabetical grid labels
3. File Name (so I cannot double click this line as one of your solutions)
Please help I'm pretty desparate.


At this point I'd need to see your spreadsheet. Upload it to my web site and I'll be glad to take a look at no charge:



Thanks. Good one. Really helpful.

I appreciate the feedback!



I work on an Excel Workbook created at the office in Excel 2007 but use Excel 2010 when working on this same workbook at home. I can only see the three sheets in my workbook in fullscreen view, which hides the ribbon.
Can I fool my Excel 2010 into thinking its from 2007? File/Options/Advanced/
Display/Show Sheets box is checked but sheets are hidden except in FullScreen view
Not sure what I did but after unchecking and rechecking I maximized the window and all my sheets appeared.


I was going to say that the techniques in my article should have revealed the tabs for you. The Windows operating system sometimes does wacky things with regard to storing positions of program and document windows onscreen. Regardless, I'm glad you got it resolved, as you shouldn't have had a different experience in 2010 versus 2007.


thank u so much

My pleasure.

finally it worked by double clicking thw workbook title.....thank you

Thanks for sharing your experience. I'm my article was helpful!

You are a great mentor!

Well that's awfully nice of you to say! Thank you! I'm so glad that you find my articles helpful!

I found your advice tremendously helpful, was about ready to :((( because I couldn't find the tabs. I got it to work by double clicking the workbook title. Many thanks!!!

You're quite welcome. It's a vexing problem for many users, so I'm glad you found my article!


Thank you so much! You save my day, omg.

I'm glad to be of assistance. Thanks for reading!

I discovered that there are two minimize tabs. When I click the bottom one my spreadsheet is minimized but a big blue screen is behind it and my tabs are gone. If I drag the minimized screen to fit in the blue screen the tabs do not come back. Hope it helps someone.

Oops. I meant if you minimize the bottom tab and then the top tab you will lose your tabs. Some how I did that and it took me 45 minutes to figure it out. Thank goodness I save to a thumb drive after each use.


I have Excel 2010, can I find worksheets (tabs) within a workbook through a "search function"? I have an abundance of tabs in one file and often I am asked to locate one that I did months ago...

Great question. See the image below for a hidden menu that you can use. If you choose More Sheets from the menu a dialog box will appear. You can then navigate that list by typing the first letter of the desired sheet name if you remember what it is.

One of my co-workers is missing the worksheet tabs in Excel 2010. She did something that hid them, but she doesn't know what! LOL!!
I have followed all of the suggestions on this website to try to get them back for her, but the only option I can find to work is the 'Ctrl, Page Up' option. The 'Show Sheet Tabs' box IS checked. The 'Workbook Name' does not appear in her Excel window (nor on mine, now that I look), I don't think it ever has, so I can't try that option. What am I missing?? :(

With the Excel document that is not showing the tabs open, try pressing 'New Window' under the View tab. This may focus the worksheet so you can maximize it (if it is not already). At a minimum it should show you tabs... at least this has been my experience when this has happened to a coworker.

Research Guy, clever! Thanks for contributing. Gina, I just now saw your question. If you continue to have more problems, let me know and we'll do our best to get you some help!

works awesom!

I'm glad to hear that. Thanks for the feedback!

This has literally just saved my day - THANK YOU!

Super! Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts!

Wow, I got my data now. Thank you very much

Fabulous! I'm glad to hear that. Thanks for sharing your experience.

I have tried the above but had no luck. DO you know if saving a multi tab workbook as a csv file deletes the second tab?

When you save a spreadsheet as a CSV file then it's no longer an Excel spreadsheet with tabs, but rather just a simple text file that you could open in Notepad, Microsoft Word, or other similar programs. When you save a file as CSV, the additional tabs aren't truly lost until you close the workbook, so if you save as CSV accidentally, you can resave again in another format as long as you do so before closing the spreadsheet.

anyway to retrieve the file after saving and closing the workbook ?

Thanks for sharing the information. I found my worksheet tabs!

That's great! I'm glad you found my article helpful!

Hi David..This is really help me to findout the sheets..Thanks...

I'm so glad! Clearly it's a frustrating problem for a lot of users! Thank you for the feedback.

Thank you :)

You're welcome! I'm happy I could help!

hi i lost home, insert, formulas and all tabs....how could i get back?