The Exceptions That Undo the "Undo" Command


Q: I’m having trouble with my Excel Undo command (Ctrl + Z). Sometimes I can only successfully perform an Undo three or four times. Other times, I can go back more than 10 steps. I was under the impression Undo can take you back as many as 16 steps. Is my tool broken? If so, is there a way to fix it?


A: It’s probably not broken. While it’s true that the Undo function in Excel versions prior to 2007 store your last 16 actions (Excel 2007 can store 100), there are exceptions, and you’ve no doubt triggered one or more of those exceptions that effectively cleared out all or part of your Undo stack.


For example, a Save (Ctrl + S) command will completely clear the stack in pre-2007 versions. And even if you don’t perform a Save, your AutoRecover might trigger the action; that, too, was eliminated in the 2007 version.


In pre-2007 versions, to reset AutoRecover to a longer interval so it won’t hamper Undo, go to Tools, Options, Save and remove the check next to Save AutoRecover info every, check Disable AutoRecover, or increase the minutes between saves (see screenshot below). To change the settings in Excel 2007, click the Office Button, Excel Options and Save.


Be aware, too, that some macro commands also will clear the stack. So you should test all the macros you use.


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