Excel Screen flicker

It seems the November patch for Excel has an unwelcome side effect – It totally messes with screen updating and causes content from multiple sheets to appear mixed up.

So if you get automatic updates, or just like being bang up to date, and in the last few days have started to have unusual screen updating issues check out this link:


That page also tells you how to remove the patch to test (Add/Remove programs).

Note this issue may affect 2007 and 2003 as the patch is for both versions.

The patch fixes some security vulns so I guess thats the choice you make, more secure with flaky screen, or less secure with smooth screen updating.

I made my choice a long time ago when I stopped applying patches because they just broke stuff or ripped out useful functionality.

Anyone else suffering from this issue?



19 Responses to “Excel Screen flicker”

  1. Marcus from London Says:

    The symptoms sound familiar but the cause has probably more to do with the Excel model being run is consuming about 1.4 Gig of system resources.

  2. Peter Grebenik Says:

    Thanks for the info Simon. It explains what had been inexplicable changes in the way in which some of my workbooks behave.

    I couldn’t see anything from Microsoft showing that they are aware of the issue but let’s hope they fix it soon as the misbehavior is both annoying, difficult to predict, hard to work-around and potentially very misleading to normal users.

  3. Peter Grebenik Says:

    I’ve noticed this post that discusses the issue and identifies a cause being unprotecting worksheets other than the active one.


    I have modified my code to activate all sheets before unprotecting them and it does seem to have resolved the issue.

    But to be on the safe side, I’ve decided to remove KB973475.

  4. Dennis Wallentin Says:


    You and other developers need to reconsider the way You work. Using tools like VMWare we can use the snapshots technology enabling us to have several patched versions of Excel. In that way it’s easier to work with the same patched version as clients do.

    But what I does not appreciate is the fact that issues exist at all after updating Office with fixes and service packages.

    Kind regards,

  5. Simon Says:

    I have loads of VPCs of almost every combination. (hands up, I don’t have a working 2007, and havent had for a while, I nearly have a 2010 beta though (99% downloaded)).

    I always set up a comparable spec so I can be fairly close to the clients machine build. But the reality is that with all the desktop management and corporate specific software its not actually possible to replicate exactly in most cases.

    I tend to work in my preferred environment and test in a near-client build. Because the tech I work with has a good deployment story that is fine. You couldn’t do .net/VSTO that way for sure.

    Yes patch testing seems to taken a dip in recent times, I heard they were all working flat out trying to make the ribbon usable without making it look too much like Excel classique (;-))

  6. Jon Peltier Says:

    Dennis –

    “But what I does not appreciate is the fact that issues exist at all after updating Office with fixes and service packages.”

    You just hit the nail on the ehad.

  7. Jon Peltier Says:

    Doh! On the HEAD!

  8. Jon Peltier Says:

    So today I read this post, and then I started noticing all kinds of wacko video stuff. I can’t click on a worksheet, then the active cell highlighting is offset laterally by a fraction of a cell. When the active window is deactivated, the selection highlighting remains. Plus other weird stuff I can’t recall, but which made me crazy.

  9. Lance Phillips Says:

    I’m finding a variety of situations that can cause this problem. If I type in a cell and that cell is linked to an equation on another page, it messes up the screen if calculation is set to automatic. Furthermore, turning calculation on and off using VBA appears to cause problems too as well as using VBA to put a value in a cell that is linked to an equation on another sheet.

  10. Lance Phillips Says:

    The security update KB973475 causes the same issues with Excel 2003. If you uninstall it, everything works fine.

  11. ms xszil Says:

    Thanks to Simon for originally helping me with this on the old school favorite Excel L list. First time posting here – Hi!!

    I also concur that a variety of things cause the issue. Have not been able to isolate anything in particular, but it’s certainly not limited to sheet protection / unprotection code. For instance, Application.CutCopyMode will do it too. The only magic solution for all instances is to uninstall the security updates.

    For what it’s worth, I also tried to find out if this was officially declared a bug and being addressed at Microsoft…or if that was just gossip. I talked to a guy on the Excel support team who said “not to his knowledge” … in the meantime I had to send him a workbook that would reproduce the problem for him…. Stay tuned!

  12. Lance Phillips Says:

    I have an Excel Workbook with associated addins. I can get it to work in Excel 2007 or Excel 2003 with the new Microsoft bugs, if I open the workbook then activate one or two sheets other than the one that displays when the workbook opens. I have had to use application.screenupdating = true in some places. The select a different sheet trick appears to work even with screenupdating = false so the user doesn’t have to see the screen changing. In some cases I have had userforms disappear too. That one is not as easy to fix. I have also found that activating a sheet before changing it does not always work as a fix. It is disheartening to have to code in all these ridiculous things just because people at Microsoft dropped the ball!

  13. dougaj4 Says:

    Discussion of this problem at the Eng-Tips forum may be of interest:


  14. CM Says:

    You are able to remove this patch!

    1) Go to Start, Settings, Control Panel, Add or Remove Programs
    2) Click on the Show Updates check box and wait for the list to be populated (takes a few minutes)
    3) Scroll down to the Microsoft Office Professional Edition 2003 section
    4) Find Security Update for Excel 2003 (probably last in the list)
    5) Click on it
    6) Hit the Remove button
    7) Will take several minutes to complete
    8) No need for reboot

  15. ms xszil Says:

    For those who are interested… update from Microsoft:

    “Good news! The fix for your Excel screen update issue has been coded and tested, and is now in the final approval process. Next it has to be built into a full Office build and the patch and setup have to be tested. I still don’t have a final release date, but I have high hopes for a fix at the beginning of the year.”


  16. Roemer Says:

    @ms xszil: I hope to hear of the fix, soon!

    @Simon: THANK YOU, finally I can work again without my screen being messed up all the time. I looked for this for some time!

    However you write: “I made my choice a long time ago when I stopped applying patches because they just broke stuff or ripped out useful functionality.” I remember the time that that was common expert knowledge, but in my memory, that time is about ten years ago. I have been a heavy and expert user (Excel/Access) of Office 2000 and since a year or two, Office 2007, and this is the first time in very MANY years that an update caused me any problems. So I would say faulty updates are an exception, and i find functionality sometimes added.

  17. Pirakutu Says:

    Microsoft has now provided a hotfix for this problem and states that this problem will be fixed in the next version of the security update MS09-067. See the link below:


  18. Jack9 Says:

    Flikering is getting o my nerves.
    I cannot see damages anywhere, yet…

    I use linked cells extensively… very

    Amateur user.

  19. Jack9 Says:

    Lance Phillips Says:

    Wednesday, 18th November, 2009 at 2:20 pm | Reply
    The security update KB973475 causes the same issues with Excel 2003. If you uninstall it, everything works fine.

    How can I remove this update… or is it not recommended?

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