Excel cannot complete this task

This one is fantastic. Unfortunately, I have no clear idea what is happening. It also ended in an ugly manner.

I was editing an Excel file. I’ve been doing this for about 30 minutes. I pasted a lot of content and was going down row by row adding text values in a column. I tried to type something. I think it was the letter “e” and got this:

Excel cannot complete this task with available resources. Choose less data or close other applications.

Continue without Undo?

OK/Cancel

Problem

  1. It is not clear what task Excel is trying to complete. Nor is it clear what resources are available. I do not even know what resources would mean in this context (maybe the resources of the computer: CPU, memory, and the like.
  2. I have not chosen any data – I typed the letter “e”. I cannot relate the recommendation to my actions.
  3. Closing other applications just does not make sense. My Task Manager shows that everything seems to be OK.
  4. I have to make a choice whether to continue without Undo. Maybe this is the real cause of the message. Maybe Excel is not able to add the operation to the undo sequence?!

I tried Cancel. This is the safest first choice. Well, the message reappeared. So I had to click OK. I got this one:

Not enough resources to display completely

OK

Display what?!

I clicked OK. All four Excel files that I had open became unresponsive. So I tried to close one of them though the taskbar. The file closed but I got a fail fast exception:

A fail fast exception occurred. Exception handlers will not be invoked and the process will be terminated immediately.

OK

This is still Excel talking. Unfortunately, I have no idea what it is telling me. I sense that I will lose my last 30 minutes of work.

I was right. I clicked OK and all Excels disappeared. Too bad! Even the document recovery function of Excel, which usually works, could not help me.

Fix

Quick and dirty: I don’t know

Design for humans: Sometimes things just crash. When it happens, it happens. It is obvious, though, that we can try to make the message texts more meaningful.

7 October 2015 | Excel

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