Q&A: Excel file access error

Q Whenever I start or quit Microsoft Excel 2011, I see an alert complaining that “The file could not be accessed”, suggesting four alternative solutions, none of which makes sense. How can I make this go away?

A There are plenty of wild and weird suggestions in circulation as to what causes this, which appears most common with Excel version 14.3.1 or thereabouts, but it is most likely related to font issues.

The most pragmatic solution is to use Font Book to eliminate duplicate and damaged fonts, and to bring Excel up to date fully. If you have done that and the problem persists, you can try uninstalling and then reinstalling all Office components, but are probably as well off just living with this innocuous bug.

Maybe it has finally gone away in version 15, in Microsoft Office 2016?

Updated from the original, which was first published in MacUser volume 29 issue 5, 2013.