Excel autofilter stops filtering

Lucy - Updated on Jan 29, 2019 at 05:25 AM
 thankful - Jun 11, 2019 at 02:53 PM

I am working with Excel 2003 professional and just yesterday after entering a bunch of records to my file, which has about 19,000 rows, I discovered that my auto-filter just stopped filtering completely.

When I clicked the arrow, there is no value in the dropdown list. There are just All, Custom, and Top 10. But even these options, when I tried to click on them, do not work either.

I have removed and re-applied the filter, but the problem remained as same. I did google and try the manual calculation mode. That did not work for me.

Even I tried to copy a dozen of records to a new worksheet and applied the auto-filter, but it showed nothing.

Please help me guys, I cannot survive without my auto-filter.

Thanks a million!
System Configuration: Windows XP Firefox

23 replies


The following also solves the problem:

Instead of selecting the Row that you want to apply the autofilter on, select all the columns (A, B, C ...) and then apply the autofilter.

We've been solving this problem for many of our customers and so far it has always worked.

This is a profi advice. Thanx a million..
Thanks!! "GOTO" just said that the text was not a valid reference, or, if I selected all first, made all the cells appear blank but didn't resolve the issue. This worked for me. Really appreciate it!
Thanks... this worked like a charm. I've been struggling with this for days...
Thankss.. right on the money!!
...seemed like a big problem but the solution was simple...you made my day! :)
Thank you so much!
For autofilter to work properly, make sure that your data range does not have any empty columns when filtering.
If you do have empty columns, put a space or anything in the autofilter heading or body to allow it to form as part of the range so the empty colums are picked up.

The empty colums spilts the auto filter into 2 or 3 sections. Basically telling it to autofill the sections independently.
Oh my God, thank you! Thank you! Thank you!. I have no idea why the autofilter just stopped working, but I hadn't realised that a couple of the hidden columns didn't have labeled headings. This quick fix work wonders for me. God only knows why the filter stopped working, but this fixed it!
Using Excel 2003, I am having a problem filtering in that the most of the rows do not show up in the filter list. I have determined that if the cell contains 255 characters or less it shows in the list, if it contains 256 or more characters it does not show up in the filter list.
Hi, David!
I have now discovered the same problem and so far the same conclusion you have posted. If you have found back then any solution to deal with this characters limit, could you shear it with me, please! Thank you in advance!

I also have problem in autofilter, I used excel 2003. I have tried the solution above but it still not working properly.

I am working on an excel file that have approximately 3000 rows and 30 collumns and using autofilter..

The autofilter not working properly for some collumn but working for other collumns.

For example for collumn A I have 3000 rows with maybe around 1000 different items (some is duplicated with different input in other collumns), when I try to use the drop down list in collumn A, the list is not showing all the item available in collumn A (eg 'AAA').

But when I filter collumn B (eg 'BBB'), then I want to filter again using column A, the items 'AAA' appears in the drop down list.

The question is why the items 'AAA' not appear in the drop down list when I haven't filtered other collumns first?

Please help, your reply is greatly appreciated.

Hi roulette_21

Which Excel are you using, 2003 or 2007?

If 2003, I guess this may be the answer to your problem:

"Excel 2003 limits the list to 1000 visible unique items (https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/295971/not-all-items-are-displayed-in-the-autofilter-pivottable-list"
So MS suggests:
"To work around this issue, use the AutoFilter command on several smaller sections of the data instead of on all the data at the same time. All list items will be visible if each subset has no more unique members than the limit for the particular version of Excel."

I know another method which splits your list into smaller lists with less than 1000 items but could not remember exactly how to do it. (Please google).
Another way to check is to use the trial version of Excel 2007 from MS download website. Excel 2007 lifts the limit from 1,000 to 10,000.

Please let me know if you solve the problem or not, thanks.

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Lucy, thank you so much for posting this trick! It worked as a charm! :)
Lucy - thank you so much! I had the same issue just happen and googled "excel autofilter won't work" and found your post. Your solution worked. I continue to wonder how I ever survived without the internet. Thanks!
My pleasure. I can't survive without the Internet either. Best wish.
Really awsome...........
I can not understand what you are saying about how to reset the filter. Where do you type in the "sheet!_filter etc.)? My filter mode works one minute and not the next. How do you change to make it automatic.
Hi... actually I been using the advanced filter in my excel sheet and its being working fine...but now since I have been upgraded to excel 2007 the excel has stopped working. I have a source data sheet, a filter criteria in another sheet & I copy the filtered rows to another sheet.
Here how the code goes

Sheets("H_DataSheet").Range("Database").AdvancedFilter Action:=xlFilterCopy, CriteriaRange:=Sheets("H_fullFiletrs").Range("BigBugger"), CopyToRange:=Sheets("PIL").Range("B9:BZ9")

The code works fine in excel 2003 but doesn't returns any filtered rows......i.e the sheet comes blank after filter code.

Please if any any can suggest any thing.........
I have been stuck with this for long now...........
Please help...........
Deselect autofilter under tools > filter.
Then select your whole worksheet and reselect autofilter. You will then no longer lose data after using the autofilter settings.

Thank you Lucy!
I've an urgent work but without your solution I can't finish it.
I tried the GOTO thing, it selected what looked like the right area - although some columns did not have the non-working drop down arrows. I did an Autofilter command and it added arrows on every column that did work. When I did it again, it removed the working ones, leaving the non-working ones as they were before I did anything. I redefined the name to be the entire area. I can add and remove new drop down arrows as much as I want, but those three useless bits of grey picture are still there. Any ideas?
after filtering data are changes like break of cells and rows
This worked for me - thank you!
Thanks Lucy, great help. I can accross via a google search. cheers
Aston and Craig's solution is so easy (de-activated Auto Filter, then control-A to select all data in the spreadsheet, and then re-activate the Auto Filter), and fixed my problem immediately (though I have less than 1,000 rows of data, which I believe is the threshold of Excel 03's capacity for filtering data. Thanks both for this simple, non-techie solution! (For some reason I cannot fathom, my excel was previously only allowing me to filter up to row 534, so my selected filter subject PLUS every row from 535 onward would show up in the spreadsheet, but thankfully it is now working correctly again!). Cheers all!
I need to filter within my spreadsheet and copy data from another spreadsheet to match up with what I filtered. But my pasted contents are also going into the cells that are not showing in my filter... Please help
To: K8ster598

Sorry I could not help you, I'm a Windows girl not a Mac:) Try Mac forums may help you. anyway, hope that you already fixed it by the time this message posted.


Thank you for all the thank you's ;) I think everyone gets help from the Internet all the time so don't worry.

If the solution does not work, pls post/ create a new thread.

Moderator, pls close this discussion. Thank you.
Glad we could be of help (:
my auto filter stopped working- the dropdown box is empty and it's not over 1000 lines - I think it's something to do with blank characters when I copied/pasted from web based application, but I don't see them.

I tried to copy the whole spreadsheet to a new one - didn't work
I tried to copy some lines of the spreadsheet - didn't work

so I resorted to making a pivot table including the same columns and recreated the same spread sheet this worked! filter is functional again.

If anyone knows why this happens please advise.

Menu Tools--> Options.. --> at "View" tab, "Objects" set "Show all", then press"OK"
brilliant, this has been bugging me for ages! Thank you so much..
This just happened in Excel 2007. Solved it by creating and saving a new Excel file, then with the mouse, dragging and dropping the workbook from the old file into the new file. This created a copy onto the new file and the filters worked again.
just show the screen or email the problem to me
ill get back to u ?

aamirumar @ gmail.com