The Datasheet View Cannot be Displayed

Posted By Posted by: Dan Stopher on February 19, 2013

In my previous blog Getting the Most of SharePoint’s Datasheet View I highlighted the functions the DataSheet view in SharePoint provides to a user trying to update list items quickly including by using Fill Handle we have come to love from Excel.

However there are a couple of common reasons that stop a user from being able to use these functions.

  1. The first is that the datasheet view is not available at all.
  2. Certain cells within the datasheet view are locked for editing.

Frequent resolutions to both of these issues are covered in the below blog.


1.       Issue # 1 – The Datasheet view is totally unavailable.

If the datasheet is totally unavailable typically a message such as the one below is generated – stating “The list cannot be displayed in Datasheet view for one of more of the following reasons:”

SharePoint’s Datasheet view

If you are prompted with the above compare your Active X security settings for trusted locations with the settings as recommended below:

1.1    Ensure the site in question has been added to your trusted sites (see Microsoft’s instructions here if you need guidance with this step).

1.2    Edit your trusted sites security settings to:

1.2.1. Allow previously unused ActiveX controls to run without prompting as below.

 SharePoint’s Datasheet view

1.2.2. Download signed ActiveX controls


1.2.3.  Run ActiveX controls and plug-ins and Script ActiveX controls marked safe for scripting

1.3.    Restart Internet Explorer.


2.       Issue # 2 – Certain cells within the datasheet view are locked for editing.

This one is a little harder to diagnose as no error message displays and typically a user is just frustrated as they can update some fields but not others. However if the user looks to the bottom right of the screen they will often get a clue as to the reason as shown below:

Further investigation will frequently confirm that it is only multi-line text fields that are displaying the “Read-only” status as above.

However not all multiline text fields are Read-only!!

Multiline text fields that have been set to Enhanced Rich Text are not available to edit via a DataSheet view.

To view the type of text allowed or change the existing setting follow the below steps:


2.1.    Click List Settings from the List ribbon as below

2.2.    Identify the columns that are set to the multiline text field type:

2.3.    Click on the field name to review/change the settings to enable editing via the datasheet view.

I hope these instructions help you realize the speedy edits and bulk updates SharePoints’ Datasheet view provides.

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