What To Do When Worksheet Tabs Go Missing

Search for missing Excel worksheet tabs

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.

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.

About David Ringstrom, CPA

David Ringstrom

David H. Ringstrom, CPA, is an author and nationally recognized instructor who teaches scores of webinars each year. His Excel courses are based on over 25 years of consulting and teaching experience. His mantra is “Either you work Excel, or it works you.” David offers spreadsheet and database consulting services nationwide.

Replies

Please login or register to join the discussion.

avatar
By Ned
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Thank you kindly - Great advice

Thanks (0)
avatar
By David Ringstrom
to sharon
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Thanks, Ned! I appreciate the feedback!

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Ngaire
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

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.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By David Ringstrom
to benplint
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

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

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Jessica
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

THANK YOU!!! You are a life saver!

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Darryl
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

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.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By David Ringstrom
to msliz
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Darryl,

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:

http://www.acctadv.com/upload-...

David

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Mahes Waran
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Thanks. Good one. Really helpful.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By David Ringstrom
to GloriaAnn
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

I appreciate the feedback!

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Baher Abdou
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

thanks

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Sanju
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Thanks

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Kenneth Browne
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

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
edit
Not sure what I did but after unchecking and rechecking I maximized the window and all my sheets appeared.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By David Ringstrom
to JJ Collins
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Kenneth,

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.

David

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Grv Pandey
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

thank u so much

Thanks (0)
avatar
By David Ringstrom
to ibncpaoutsourcing
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

My pleasure.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Linda
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

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

Thanks (0)
avatar
By David Ringstrom
to SBSBoise
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

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

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Jim
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

You are a great mentor!

Thanks (0)
avatar
By LadyWriter
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

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!!!

Thanks (0)
avatar
By David Ringstrom
to nfitzgerald
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

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

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Marqurn
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

THANK YOU!!

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Nerdy Azura
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

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

Thanks (0)
avatar
By David Ringstrom
to skinnyvinny
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

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

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Rich G
to robert_mann
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

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.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By GEJO
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

THANKS

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Marian Rose
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

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...

Thanks (0)
avatar
By David Ringstrom
to dringstrom
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

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.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Gina Banker
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

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?? :(

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Research Guy
to geoff-softledger
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

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.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Eben Samuel
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

works awesom!

Thanks (0)
avatar
By David Ringstrom
to Rowan Webb
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

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

Thanks (0)
avatar
By samchedz
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

This has literally just saved my day - THANK YOU!

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Tom
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

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

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Donal OReilly
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

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?

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Sue Tucker
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

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

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Arnab Dutta
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

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

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Gerald
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Thank you :)

Thanks (0)
avatar
By tholsss
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

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

Thanks (0)
avatar
By WorkingLateNight
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

You're a saint! You just saved me from pulling all of my hair out! Not sure what happened or how it happened in the first place but I'm just glad to have my dear ol' tabs back. Thank you, David!

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Liam Healy
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

Hi,
I have lost several worksheets, they were all labelled individually. My main concern is that I can still see the first tab, but cannot find the others despite your steps. Any thoughts?

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Ran Manor
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

Thanks!

Thanks (0)
avatar
By mswal
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

I just got a new PC with very high resolution. I've figured out how to set it so that the ribbons and cells are look fine, but the tabs are still very very small. How can I set their font size?

Thanks (0)
avatar
By TQ
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

OMG - you saved my day. THANKS A LOT. :)

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Mike
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

Hi! I'm using excel 2007 and cannot view my other tabs, despite these steps. I can see the other tabs when I type alt+f11, but when I click on the others, I am brought to the original page. Any suggestions?

Thanks (0)
avatar
By prabodha
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

how this sheet fit to window
i tried bt it didnt wrk

Thanks (0)
avatar
By David Ringstrom
to stevelarsc
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

A user has clicked on the Review tab, chosen Protect Workbook, and selected the Window option. You'll have to choose Unprotect Workbook on the Review tab and provide the password if prompted.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Happy Guest
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

THANK YOU - Peace

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Sandra Ramos
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

I need help to fix my Bi-weekly employees schedule. When I print it out the Column with the Staff members is missing in the second week. How can I fix this?
Thank you!

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Sandra Frilund
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

Thanks a million for these tips!

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Vignesh
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

Or View-> Arrange all -> Tiled -> [OK]

Thanks (0)

Pages