How to undelete or recover a deleted tab in Excel?

What happens if you unintentionally delete a tab in Excel? There is no “undo” for recovering a deleted tab.

The general solution is to get the last saved version of the file to recover the tab. This works for anything that you cannot “undo” in Excel. For example, actions from a VBA script.

If your last save of the Excel file is very recent, and you did not change much since the last save:

  1. Close Excel, do not save changes
  2. Open file again

If your last save was a while ago, or you are not sure if a lot of updates were changed:

  1. Save the a new Excel file using “Save As”.
  2. Open the original file
  3. Copy the deleted tab in to the new Excel file
  4. Close the original file
  5. Delete the original file (you no longer need it, but if you want to keep it, shelve it in a backup folder just in case)
  6. Rename the new file to the original file’s name
Alternatively, you can keep the original file instead:
  1. Save the a new Excel file using “Save As”.
  2. Open the original file
  3. Find and restore changes from the new file to the original file
  • If you have a lot of referencing the deleted tab, you may want to consider keeping the original file, and restoring new changes from the new file instead. This is because the cells referencing the deleted tab will all turn into #REF.
  • If you have a lot of other Excel files open that link to the file with the accidentally deleted tab, you MUST close the other files prior to saving the files separately. Otherwise the other files will all change their links to the new file’s name, but will not change back after the new file is renamed. For example, if Recovery.xlsx is the original file, the new file is Recovery2.xlsx, the other files will keep its references as Recovery2.xlsx if they are not closed during the Save As step.
  • Any changes made to the deleted tab after the last save cannot be recovered.

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