General Usage Tips

The following guidelines are recommendations for using Microsoft Office with Macabacus, specifically; using Office with add-ins, generally; and using Office, generally

Multiple Instances

For reliable performance, ensure that only a single instance of each Office application (i.e., Excel, PowerPoint, and Word, as applicable) is running. To do this, go to the Details tab (Windows 11, 10, 8) or Processes tab (Windows 7) in Task Manager and confirm that  excel.exepowerpnt.exe, and winword.exe appear only once. Add-ins cannot reliably determine to which instance of an Office application to refer when multiple instances are running. Some Macabacus tools display a warning message when multiple instances are detected, while others may fail silently.

Multiple instances are most common in Excel 2010 and earlier versions, where they are sometimes used to display workbooks in separate windows that can be viewed simultaneously on different monitors. Subsequent versions of Excel use a single document interface (SDI) that displays workbooks in separate windows with their own interfaces, largely eliminating any need for multiple instances. Indeed, it is difficult to initialize multiple instances of Excel 2013+ yourself. If you have issues with multiple instances in Excel 2013+, other software or add-ins are likely creating them and not disposing them as they should.

Terminal servers

When running Office applications in a terminal server or Citrix environment, rather than locally, multiple running instances of Office applications are common. When Macabacus detects these environments, it ignores multiple instances to allow the requested operation to proceed. However, this may result in unexpected behavior if Macabacus cannot determine to which instance to refer.

System Font Size

On some displays, particularly before v8.6.2, the fonts and images in some Macabacus interfaces may appear too small, clipped, or unreadable. To ensure proper display of these Macabacus interfaces, ensure that your Windows system font is set to the Windows-recommended value—100% (96 dpi) on non-Ultra-High Density (UHD) and non-4K displays, and 200% or larger for UHD and 4K displays. You may also need to lower your screen resolution if the resulting system font size is too small to read.

To change your system font size and screen resolution on a Dell XPS 13" with a 3200 × 1800 display running Windows 10, for example:

  1. Right click on the Windows desktop and select Display settings from the context menu.
  2. Move the font size slider all the way to the left (100%).
  3. In the same dialog, click the Advanced display settings link and select a new resolution of 1680 × 1050.
  4. Re-sign into Windows or restart your PC, as applicable, to make system font size changes take effect.

Exact steps you need to take may vary depending on your PC and operating system. We have made considerable progress toward addressing scaling issues high-DPI displays since v8.6.2 but, unfortunately, Microsoft makes supporting displays of varying resolutions and various system font size percentages very difficult, and scaling is not always pixel-perfect.

Interoperability Between Applications

Some Macabacus operations involve cross-communication between Office applications, such as updating PowerPoint shapes linked to Excel. While Macabacus will start Office applications when required if they are not already running, it is preferable—for performance and stability—to have the required Office applications running already, before Macabacus requires them.

Protected View

Most add-in operations are unavailable while workbooks, presentations, and documents are open in Protected View, indicated by a yellow warning bar below the ribbon.


Animation, introduced in Office 2013, not only slows down your workflows, but can crash Office applications under infrequent circumstances when using add-ins. Please disable the animation. See this Microsoft article for guidance.

Worksheet Protection

Some Macabacus tools may not behave as expected when the worksheet on which they are performing an operation is protected. Some Macabacus tools prompt you to unprotect sheets, and others do not. If you unprotect a worksheet after being prompted by Macabacus to do so, Macabacus cannot re-protect the sheet after the operation is complete. Protection must be manually reapplied.

Shared Workbooks

Do not share workbooks using Excel's native sharing capability ( Review > Share Workbook). Shared workbooks suffer from a loss of functionality and create problems for add-ins trying to work with them. Shared workbooks display "[Shared]" in the application window title. See this Microsoft article for more information.

Windows Explorer Preview Pane

When you select a presentation in Windows Explorer with preview pane enabled, Windows Explorer appears to open the presentation in a hidden window. This mysteriously prevents PowerPoint add-ins from working with that presentation. We consider this a Windows bug, as the same issue is not observed with Excel workbooks and there is no logical reason for this behavior.

Cell Selection

Limit the cells in your selection to those cells with which you actually need to work before performing certain Macabacus operations. Macabacus may inspect or modify each cell in your selection individually, and when you select an entire column to modify a single cell in that column, for example, the operation may take longer than necessary.


Some Macabacus formatting operations may be noticeably slower with Macabacus Undo/Redo enabled, with speed inversely proportional to the number of cells affected by the operation. The performance hit from using Undo/Redo can be mitigated by limiting the number of cells in your selection as described above. Disable Undo/Redo if it is unacceptably affecting performance.

Calculation Settings

For optimal Excel performance in most scenarios, use the following calculation settings:

  • Calculation mode set to "Automatic except for data tables";
  • Iterative calculation enabled;
  • Maximum iterations set to 100.

Some Macabacus tools disable calculations while performing computationally intensive operations, and then re-enable calculations when complete. Other Macabacus tools do not. If Macabacus seems to be slowing down Excel, ensure that your calculation settings are configured as above.

Camera Tool

Using the Camera tool in Excel to create linked pictures that update automatically as your data changes (e.g., to create a dashboard) can noticeably and adversely affect the performance of both native Excel and add-in operations. This issue is well-documented and has few practical workarounds, which perhaps explains why Microsoft buries the Camera tool so deep in the UI. If you must use the Camera tool, try this solution to improve performance.

Elevated Applications

If one Office application is running with elevated privileges (i.e., run as administrator) while another is not, the two apps will not be able to "see" each other (for example, when exporting from Excel to PowerPoint). If Macabacus reports that an Office application is not open, even though it clearly is, check whether one app is running with elevated privileges while the other is not.


Do not open Office files read-only from SharePoint. Unfortunately, read-only may be the default in your environment, but you should explore the many workarounds described on the Internet.

UNC Paths

IT professionals should note that Macabacus generally works better with mapped drive paths than raw UNC paths, although we are aware of no particular instances in which UNC paths cause problems.

This documentation refers to the latest Macabacus version. Some features and descriptions of these features may not apply to older versions of Macabacus. Update your Macabacus software to take advantage of the latest features.

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