Excel Waiting for another OLE Action: Troubleshooting Steps

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Written By Chris

Just a simple "data guy". Changing the world one formula at a time.

Grasping OLE Action Errors

OLE (Object Linking and Embedding) action errors may occur when data transfer between various applications takes too long. These errors usually arise in Excel, Outlook, or other Microsoft applications. The primary causes for these errors are conflicting Excel add-ins, a disabled DDE protocol, or a compatibility mode issue. 

When one of your Microsoft applications is trying to transfer data to another application, whether through attaching a document or exporting information, clear communication can be more complex than it seems.

A lot is working behind the scenes; even a tiny roadblock in the transfer will result in an OLE action error. And sometimes, the quick fix is as straightforward as restarting your computer to clear any pending transfers between applications. 

But if this doesn’t solve your issue, I’ve got some other troubleshooting techniques for you to try!

Resolving Errors by Disabling DDE

One possible cause of OLE action errors could be the disabled DDE protocol. Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE) activates OLE between programs, so you might bypass the error by deactivating it. 

To disable DDE, open the File tab in Excel, select Options, and then choose Advanced. Within the General section, locate and check the box for “Ignore other applications that use Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE).”

disable DDE for OLE action error

Click OK and restart Excel for the changes to take effect. This method may help resolve any data transfer delays caused by DDE, ultimately fixing the OLE action error.

Managing Excel Add-Ins

When encountering an Excel OLE (Object Linking and Embedding) action error, one common cause could be conflicting Excel add-ins. These add-ins might function well enough independently but may not be compatible with other installed add-ins. To tackle this issue, disabling all add-ins or turning them off one by one could reveal the root cause of the problem and ultimately fix the OLE action error.

To manage your Excel add-ins:

  1. Go to the Developer tab on your ribbon and select Excel Add-ins.
  2. From here, uncheck the boxes to disable them, then click OK.
  3. After turning off the add-ins, restart Excel and see if the error resolves.
disable add-ins for OLE action error

By methodically managing and testing your Excel add-ins, you will likely find the one causing the issue and restore a seamless data transfer between applications.

Disabling Compatibility Mode

Compatibility mode might be contributing to the OLE action error. Disabling it has proven successful for some users. Here’s how you can turn off compatibility mode:

  1. Locate the Excel executable: Search for the Excel application file with a .exe extension, usually found within Microsoft Windows subfolders.
  2. Access properties: Once you find the executable file, right-click on it and select properties.
  3. Disable compatibility mode: Navigate to the compatibility tab, uncheck the box for compatibility mode, and click OK.

Now, reopen your original file and test the results. Turning off compatibility mode might resolve the OLE action error by eliminating potential conflicts and enhancing data transfer efficiency. Just make sure to do this on the source Excel application (.exe), not the file you’re working with.

Alternative Emailing Methods

When you encounter the Excel OLE action error while attempting to email a workbook directly from within Excel, the data transfer between Excel and Outlook may be causing the issue. 

do not share file through excel application

Instead of sharing the document via email through the Excel application, try opening your email application (such as Outlook) and attaching the workbook from its file location. 

Dealing with Embedded Links

Embedded links within your file might be an alternative reason for the Excel OLE action error. Links can be corrupted or contain inaccurate references that Microsoft struggles to process. To find and resolve such issues, check the Data tab on your ribbon first and click the Edit Links button. If the button appears greyed out, it indicates no evident links. But there could still be hidden links causing the issue.

To locate these hidden links, use the Name Manager for any external links or try the Go To Special feature to detect links within objects in your file. Alternatively, you could opt for Excel add-ins designed to handle hidden and broken links.

embedded links for ole action error

Addressing these potential issues with embedded links can increase the likelihood of resolving the Excel OLE action error, allowing you to continue working seamlessly with your files.

Keeping Software Updated

Keeping your software updated is essential for resolving the OLE action error, as well as many other troublesome issues. It’s possible that a known error may be resolved through the latest Microsoft updates containing bug fixes for this specific issue.

If you’ve tried the other available fixes, you can perform this next step by checking for any available Microsoft updates and installing them to ensure your system is up-to-date. 

check for updates for OLE action error

You can do this from the Microsoft Store or one of their applications. For instance, when you open Excel, open the Account tab under File, and you’ll see an Update option to check for recent changes.

Consider Reinstallation

Sometimes, none of the troubleshooting methods resolve the OLE action error. In such cases, you can contemplate reinstalling your Microsoft applications. Reinstallation can help eliminate any underlying issues that have built up over time and could be causing the error.

However, before reinstallation, ensure you have backed up all your important data to avoid losing critical files. Once you have reinstalled the applications, check if the OLE action error has been resolved and your Excel software functions without any hiccups.

Using the Office Repair Tool

One last trick if all the above fails is to run the Office repair tool. This tool is designed to fix problems within your Microsoft applications. However, if you’ve already reinstalled Microsoft Office, it probably won’t be very successful, and you’ll want to look into some professional help.

But to use the Office repair tool, simply access it by right-clicking the Home icon (Windows logo) and selecting ‘Installed Apps.’ Find the Microsoft download and choose ‘Modify.’ You’ll then be prompted to repair all programs. 

office repair for OLE action error

Good luck!

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