Excel Add-in Ribbon Disappears After Installation

Bottom line: A recent Microsoft Office security update has caused add-in Ribbon Menu Bars to disappear when Excel is opened.  This article contains a few solutions for this issue.

Excel Add-in Ribbon Disappeared - Windows Security Update Unblock

Why Did My Add-in's Ribbon Menu Disappear?

Microsoft released an Office Update in July 2016 that is causing this issue with installed add-in Ribbons disappearing.  The security update is blocking files that have been downloaded from the internet.

Files downloaded from the internet now have a Security property that is automatically set to Block.  When you open regular Excel files (.xlsx or .xlsm), you will get a security prompt asking you if the file is safe.

However, there is no security prompt for add-in files (.xla, .xlam).  That means there is nothing to tell you why the add-in Ribbon disappeared.

So if you have downloaded an Excel Campus add-in recently, or an add-in from another site, then you might not be seeing the custom Ribbon menu after open Excel.  Argh!!! 😡

The following video explains how to prevent this from happening, so we can turn that frown upside down and get on with being productive. 🙂

Video: How to Fix the Disappearing Add-in Ribbon

Best Solution: Store the Add-in in a Trusted Location

The best solution to this problem is to store the add-in file in a Trusted Location.  A Trusted Location is a folder on your hard drive or server that has been added to the Trusted Locations list in Excel.

You can either move the add-in file to a trusted location, or add the add-in file's location to the list of trusted locations.  Here are instructions for both options.

Add the Add-in File's Folder as a Trusted Location

I like to store my add-ins in a folder within my Documents folder.  This makes it easier to find the files and keep them organized.

If you have downloaded any of the Excel Campus add-ins and followed my installation instructions, then you probably have an Excel Campus or Add-ins folder in your Documents folder.  You can add this folder to the trusted locations list.

Here are the instructions on how to add a folder to the Trusted Locations list in Excel:

  1. Open the Trusted Locations menu. File>Options>Trust Center>Trust Center Settings>Trusted Locations
    Add New Trusted Location Folder in Excel
  2. Press the Add new location… button.
  3. Click the Browse… button.
  4. Navigate to the folder that contains your add-in files and press OK.
  5. If your add-ins are organized in subfolders then click the “Subfolders of this location are also trusted” checkbox.
  6. Press OK, then press OK again on the Trust Center Window.
  7. Close and re-open Excel.

The add-in and custom ribbon should now load every time your open Excel.  You only need to do this process one time.

The Default AddIns Folder Needs to be Trusted

The following path is the default location where add-ins are stored on the computer:

  • C:\Users\your_username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\AddIns

If you store add-ins in this default AddIns folder then you will need to add it to the Trusted Locations list.  For most users, it is not trusted by default.

Additional Solution: Unblock the Add-in File

Some users have reported that adding the folder to the Trusted Loactions list still does not solve the problem.  If this is the case you will also need to Unblock the file.  This is an additional property that was added with the Office Security Update for all files downloaded from the internet.

Here are instructions on how to Unblock the file.

  1. Locate the Add-in file (.xla, .xlam) in Windows Explorer.
  2. Right-click the file and select Properties.
  3. At the bottom of the General tab you should see a Security section.  Check the box that says Unblock.
    Security Unblock Property for Excel Add-in - Ribbon Disappears
  4. Press the OK button.
  5. Close Excel completely and re-open it.  The add-in should now load and any custom ribbons will appear.

You will only need to do this unblock one time.  However, if you download an updated version of the file then you will have to repeat the steps above to unblock it.  Therefore it is probably best to add the add-in file to the Trusted Locations list in Excel.

Custom UI Ribbon Blocking – Office Group Policy

If you've tried all the steps above and still don't see the XL Campus tab appear then it could be group level policy setting for Office.  This is something that will be controlled or set by your IT department.  Sometimes they don't even know this setting has been applied, so go easy on them. 🙂

Here is an article that explains how to change the Group Policy setting.

Still Don't See the Add-in or Ribbon

I hope that helps get your add-in Ribbon back.  If you still don't see the Add-in, it might be disabled.  Checkout my video on how to re-enable an add-in that is missing for more info.

Please leave a comment below with any questions.  Thanks!

59 comments

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  • Thanks for this Jon! I was troubleshooting by uninstalling, and reinstalling add-ins every time I opened Excel. I originally thought my Excel was being buggy.. Glad that wasn’t the case.

  • I thought the list of Trusted Locations would be in the registry and I found it. Not sure why you would need it, but here it is:

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Excel\Security\Trusted Locations\

  • The user add-in folder (C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\AddIns) is NOT trusted by default, which surprises me. I’ve had to explicitly trust that folder on all the computers I use.

    • Thanks Jon! I recently had to reinstall Windows (good times…) and the AddIns folder was NOT trusted on my new installation either. I have updated the article to reflect this now.

  • The latest instalment in the saga of my love/hate relationship with Microsoft. I love how productive you can be with some of the software and hate it when everything comes to a grinding halt because of some undocumented “feature” they sneak in unannounced. Oh, the hours wasted getting Windows 10 and office 13 stable – not sure the improvements were worth all the pain…

    Anyway, thanks for the info – resolved all the current issues.

  • Thanks for a great service!

    I tried downloading your EC chart alignment add-in. But I did not get an XLCampus tab when I opened Excel. I made the file location a trusted source and checked for disabled add-ins. But there were none. What should I do next?

    All the best

    David

    • Hi David,
      The Chart Alignment button will appear on the Format tab of the Ribbon when a chart is selected. The XL Campus tab does not appear for Chart Alignment. I hope that helps.

  • Hi,

    I tried the fix and the add-in tab still does not appear. More precisely, I unblocked the security feature and added it to a trusted location. I recently had to have the Office 365 reinstalled because I was not getting updates which is why, I guess that the Add-in tab was still working. It is not now. It is a statistics add-in called Muultibase.
    Any help appreciated!

    Charles

    • Hi Charles,
      I’m sorry to hear you are still having trouble with this. I believe Microsoft is looking into fixing the issue. Those are the only two fixes I know of at this time.

  • My XL Campus ribbon disappeared after I installed the add-in per your instructions. I made sure I had put the folder into the trusted locations list and that I had unblocked the xlam file. The ribbon was still missing. So I disabled and re-enabled the add-in. Then the ribbon appeared.

    Thanks for the add-in. It is just what I need.

    • Hi Paul,

      I’m sorry to hear you are still having issues with this. It sounds like you got it working. I have heard that storing the add-in file on a network or cloud drive can also cause the issue. So if you are storing it there, it might be best to move the file to your hard drive.

      Thanks again!

  • Thank you!! I needed Megastat for my statistics class, and I could not get it to stay on my ribbon in Excel- this fixed my problem!

  • Hi, my friend and I are trying to enable Analysis Toolpak, but the Excel Add-Ins choice does not show up in the Manage drop down box. Anyway to add the excel add-ins option so that we can enable Analysis Toolkpak? We need it for class!

    Thanks

  • Thank you Jon! I tried adding the network folder to trusted locations, but the security settings blocked me. Any suggestions which security settings i need to fix?

  • Hi,

    Data Analysis Pack unable to visible in excel Menu. When it is activated for the first is visible, but after few days its disappear. How could I get the data analysis.

    Regards,
    Anil

  • Hi I am trying to add DeltaV Reporter in excel ,we actually configured through trust center but its not DeltaV Add in is not showing in the excel ribbon. Please suggest

  • I used this tip for no longer developed add-in that helps us find hidden characters for use in a dat files. THANK YOU SO MUCH!! <3

  • Jon: I just switched from Excel 2011 to Excel 2016.11.1 and I have installed List Search. The problem is when the box comes up the graphic is truncated such that I can only see a small portion of the sort down icon. I cannot change the box size to access the copy function. I use list search a lot and find it very helpful. How can I change the graphic size to include all of the functions available?

  • Hello, i tried every solutions proposed. But it shows error that : no libraries were found. Yet, I’m sure the library is in the same folder. What should i do?

  • Do you have instructions for Mac version? When I open Excel and then clck on File, the dropdown menu does not have “options” on the list of actions.

  • Is there another option to get the add-in tab to show if the Trust Center settings for Trusted Locations are for administrator use only? I cannot add any Trusted Locations.

  • Every time I try to open a new excel doc, a message pops up saying “sorry we couldn’t find …\EC_PivotPal.xlam. Is it possible it was moved, renamed, or deleted?” I will go in and re-add the add in to the list and it will function fine until I try to open a new document. I have trusted the location and unblocked the add-in. I use the add-in for work, so any solution helps. Thanks.

  • I put the add-in file in user\username\appdata\roaming \Microsoft \excel\xlstart

    Then open excel and map your addin to xlstart location using manage addin.
    And it worked.
    Maybe the xlstart location is default trusted location.

  • I have noticed that after installing this add-in
    It works great and what a big help

    But I have noticed when opening a file it sometimes shuts down excel
    I can open it again no problem, probable does it 1 in 10.

    If it turn off add-in works fine……..
    Is there some way of stopping this from happening

  • I have noticed that after installing this add-in
    It works great and what a big help thanks

    But I have noticed when opening a file it sometimes shuts down excel
    I can open it again no problem, probable does it 1 in 10.

    If it turn off add-in works fine……..
    Is there some way of stopping this from happening

  • Did not work after all I tried all the things you listed. It is my experience that any article older than 12 months is already obsolete as Microsoft keeps updating it’s apps and security settings.

  • Hi There,

    I have developed an Excel add-in in C#/.NET. When I was developing it, I had no problems seeing the tab and debugging my code. However, my add-in tab is not appearing any ore and I am at a loss as to why it did before but now now.

    I have made no changes to the PC and there are no network policy changes whatsoever. I have also tried adding the location of my add-in (where the DLL and other files are located) to the trusted locations and tried all the suggestion but nothing works.

    Through the Visual Studio debugger, I can see that the start-up code for add-in is executed but the code for loading the ribbon tab is never called. So something has stopped working.

    Would you be able to point me in the right direction please?

    Thank you so much for your help in advance Jon.

  • Thanks for taking the time to discuss that, I feel strongly about this and so really like getting to know more on this kind of field. Do you mind updating your blog post with additional insight? It should be really useful for all of us.
    https://openapkfiles.co/

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