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Cursor stuck in Excel

A quircky behavior has suddenly shown up in Excel. When I load it, either by opening an Excel file or by starting up the application with a blank worksheet, as soon as I left-click in any cell, my cursor is stuck in the mode of extending the selection, as if I were holding down the mouse button. Moving the cursor outside of the worksheet area to any of the menus just causes the selection region to expand by scrolling the worksheet area, so I cannot use any of the menus once I have made that first click. The keyboard at that point is also completely ineffective, except for Alt-Tab, which does properly swap me out of Excel, and Ctrl-Alt-Del, which does bring up the close program window. But if I ask the close program window to End Task, I get a message that Excel cannot be closed. The only thing I have been able to do is swap out of Excel, right-click on its button in the task bar, and close it from there.

I have had other problems with sticky cursors on this computer (a Dell Latitude notebook with touchpad), which seem to have been caused by a sticky shift key because I've always been able to unstick the cursor by hitting the shift key. But hitting the shift key or other keys, as well as clicking the mouse buttons, nothing seems to unstick the cursor in Excel now once I have clicked on any cell. When I swap out of Excel to Word, the cursor works just fine.

This behavior makes Excel completely useless except for viewing spreadsheets already created, so I hope someone has some idea what could be causing it and how to fix it.

Thank you for your help.
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EnnFab
Asked:
EnnFab
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1 Solution
 
EnnFabAuthor Commented:
Edited text of question.
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calacucciaCommented:
Hi EnnFab,

You have very probably a macro virus installed in one of Excels start-up books. This macro virus is rather easy to remove.
It reacts on the Click event, and then launchesautomatically a macro which probably causes you the trouble.

To find it, you will have to go to the Visual Basic Editor. If you don't know how to do this, I'll try to guide you step-by-step:

1. Open Excel (don't click on anything now)
2. Hit Alt+F11 to open Visual Basic Editor
3. On the left top, you will have a kind of explorer tree, with all the loaded workbooks in it.
4. Look for the presonal.xls workbook, double-click on yllow folder icon, look for Workbook symbol, right-click on it and select view code.
5. Now in right-top window you will probably see some macro's, search for the Click event or the SelectionChange event, if you see those Private Subs with lots of code behind, you can bet it's a virus.
6. If you don't see anything, look on the code of the different sheets (right-click on every sheet in explorer-tree on the left, and select View Code, look for same events in right-top window appearing.

7. If the personal.xls folder doesn' help or show something, you'll have to scan the other automatically loaded Excel files.
To find these files, they are in the C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office\XLStart Folder.
8. Now run the same procedure (1 to 6)


9. Whatever you find in there, delete it.
10. Enable the Excel Macro Protection on opening and control this same list anytime you have macro's in the file you don't expected. Some of these Macro viruses spread themselves on all opened files and are very hard to get completely out of the system.
11. Prevent other users of shared files, if you find that the macro is installed in individual files as well.

Hope this helps,

Good Luck and Merry X-Mas

Calacuccia
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ianBCommented:
This question has been undeleted.  The points for this question were originally 100 but have been reduced to 0
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ianBCommented:
Adjusted points to 100
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ianBCommented:
As per users request, this question is undeleted.

Ian
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EnnFabAuthor Commented:
calacuccia,

Thank you for your detailed suggestion on resolving my problem.

(1) As mysterious as this behavior was when it first occurred, it seems equally mysterious that when I went back to Excel to test your recommended procedure, I found there was no longer any problem with the cursor sticking! If the problems was the macro virus you expected, can such a virus disappear on its own after some period of time? (Don't tell me the computer's immune system killed it off!  :-)   ) If the problem seems to have resolved itself, is it likly to reccur at some inopportune time?

(2) Now, even though the problem no longer seemed to exist, I wanted to explore your procedure anyway. I went into VB, but found no personal.xls workbook (step 4 of your procedure). Is that something that would only exist if the virus was in place? Or is there something wrong if there is no personal.xls workbook?

(3) In step 7 of your procedure, you said that if I didn't find anything in the personal.xls folder, I should look at other files in the XLStart folder. I went there and found only one entry: Mscreate.dir. Is this unusual, or a problem?

Thank you for your assistance.

Marshall
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calacucciaCommented:
Hi EnnFab,

First of all, glad your problem no longer exist.

It's very hard to tell from your explanation if you really had a virus, but the non-existance of the personal.xls folder would point in that direction. Now to answer your questions (supposing it was a macro virus)

A macro virus is almost always installed in the hidden workbooks which are automatically opened when you open Excel (normally Personal.xls, or any other file in the XLStart folder). You can also specify a user-defined start-up folder. You can control if that's the case when going to Tools/Options/Tab General/Text Box 'Alternate Startup Folders', if nothing's written in there, only the XLStart folder is active. All files in the XLStartup folder (or specifically indicated alternatives) are opened Automatically once you open Excel. The virus is sometimes just simple Macro code, which interacts on the Workbook Open events or other Excel defined events.

Your question 3) (only MSCreate.dir present in XLStartup folder) indicates no macro virus can operate at all, since Excel will load nothing at all at its startup (except if 'Alternative Startup Folders' are specified, which would surprise me).

To your question 2), normally after the installation of Excel/Office, the personal.xls workbook is created as a blank workbook, ready for you to add your personal macros you'll always want to use. If it's not there anymore, that would mean somebody has deleted it.

What the macro viruses do normally, is add code in the personal.xls workbook which does things of the type you described in your original question, and even sometimes infects all the Excel files you open while you have the virus and thus it can spread itself out very quickly, in that case.

I think what may have happened is one of following three possibilities:

1) You (or someone else) deleted the personal.xls file by accident, and thus deleted the macro virus
2) The virus was only active for a certain period and removed itself automatically, including the personal.xls file (which can be very bad for experienced users who store lots of customized functions/macros/procedures in there)
3) It was something completely else, which had nothing to do with macro viruses (which would surprise me though, since you encountered no problems with Word)

Basically, I think your problem is solved, unless the virus has spreaded itself into other files. If one day, you encounter the same thing when opening a certain file, check the macros as mentioned in my first comment. And, ensure the 'Macro Virus Protection' is enabled (Tools/options/Tab General/ Enable 'Macro Virus Protection').

Cheers, Calacuccia
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calacucciaCommented:
Forgot to tell, if the virus has deleted itself (which can be done programatically by Visual Basic), it won't come back.
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EnnFabAuthor Commented:
It's frustrating because the spontaneous disappearance of the problem makes if hard to know how really good Calacuccia's answers were. But he took such care to explain what he was talking about that I want to give him the benefit of the doubt. No reason for him to suffer from the quirkiness of computers.

Thanks for your assistance.

Marshall
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calacucciaCommented:
You're Welcome Marshall. Thanks for your kind and correct behaviour. If the problem strikes back one day, don't hesitate to contact me in this question where discussion can continue after the question is closed.

Cheers

Calacuccia
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mrbudCommented:
Thought it was worth a posting here even though it was closed so long ago.  As I found to my embarrassment, simply rebooting the machine resolved the problem when it happened to one of our clients.  (Shame I got intouch with Microsoft first). Oh well.  Hope this saves the embarrasment to somebody else,
MB.
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calacucciaCommented:
Thanks MrBud.

In the mean time, I've learned that hitting the F8 key in Excel or Word can cause this behaviour too.

To undo, Escape.

Calacuccia
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