Fixed: Excel Cannot Open the File Because of File Format

Sometimes when you’re working with Excel, you have a deadline to meet, or you’re short on time. In times like this, it can be a nightmare if Excel won’t open. Unfortunately, this is a recurring issue in Microsoft Excel.

Excel simply refuses to open an Excel file that might be important to you. Other times, the Excel application just won’t open. If you’re dealing with the issue of fixing Excel not opening, you’re in the right spot.

In this article, we’ll cover the reasons why Excel won’t open and the solutions to deal with this problem. Now that you know what’s in store for you, let’s get started.

Part 1. Why is Excel not opening?

As a tool for smooth working in the office and for calculations, there are times when Excel isn’t so smooth.

Unfortunately, there are also times when the Excel application itself has a problem. Below are some of the top reasons why Excel won’t open on your PC when you want it to.

Problematic Extensions

There are times when the Excel file isn’t the problem; neither is the application. However, there are times when the Microsoft Excel additions are the problem. Although extensions are designed to assist in smooth operations within the application, sometimes, it can become a problem.

Sometimes, the extensions clash with one another and end up causing issues with the application. If extensions are the problem, you might be able to launch the application but not an Excel file.

Broken File Association

Another reason why Excel won’t open is if the file association is broken. What this means is that the file doesn’t have a particular application associated with it.

When you try to open such a file, Excel won’t open because the PC doesn’t know which software to open the file. So if you have a broken file association, it could cause the problem of Excel not opening.

Outdated or Corrupt Microsoft Office

There are always new versions of Microsoft office available. If you’re using an old version, your file might not be compatible with the version.

In such a case, Excel won’t open because it doesn’t possess some of the features required to open the file. It could also be that Microsoft office is corrupt. In such a case, Excel won’t open any file it should.

Corrupt Excel File

There are many reasons why your Excel file could be corrupt. Sometimes, the file gets corrupt when someone shares the file with you or copies it from an infected PC into your system.

There are also occasions when the problem is the external drive you use. Finally, you could also end up with a corrupt file if you download the file from the internet. However, when you’re trying to open a corrupt file, Excel cannot open. 

Lack of Communication with Other Applications

Another reason why you might be experiencing Excel not opening Windows 10 issue is that Microsoft Excel cannot communicate with other applications.

When there’s a lack of communication between Excel and the operating system, there’s a chance that Excel won’t open. There’s a fix for this, and we will cover it in this tutorial. 

Part 2. How to fix ‘Excel won’t open error?

Now that you know the common reasons why Excel won’t open on your computer, the question becomes how to fix it.

But, then, you’re in the right spot! This article explores some methods you can utilize to fix the issue of Excel not opening.

Solution 1: Fix Extensions

There are two parts to this solution. First, it could be the file extension that’s problematic or the extensions in the Excel application.

Second, if you use Excel extensions to enhance the application’s functionality, it could turn out to be a problem. If this is the case for Excel, follow the steps below to disable the extensions on your Excel application.

  • Firstly, open the Excel application through the start menu.

  • Next, choose the file tab at the top of the page to reveal some options.

open the file tab on Excel
  • From the menu displayed, choose ‘options’ to continue.

click options if excel won’t open
  • On the dialog box on the left side, choose the ‘add-ins’ option. 

select add-ins to fix extensions
  • Click the manage option in the dropdown menu.

select manage excel add ins
  • Next, click on COM add-ins to continue. 

click go to continue
  • Afterward, click ‘go’ and then select ‘disable all add-ins’ in the menu that appears.

disable all extensions to fix excel not opening
  • When you successfully disable all add-ins, click OK to confirm your options.

Try to open the Excel file that won’t open previously, and this should fix the issue. If not, then maybe the problem is with the Excel file extensions. There are two file formats for Excel files.

While XLS was in use till 2003, XML became the new file extension from then upwards alongside XLSX. These two file formats are not compatible with each other, so if you find that Excel won’t open, it’s probably the file extension.

You would need to change from XLSX to XSL or vice versa. Follow the steps below to change the file extension.

  • Right-click on the file you would like to open.

  • From the dropdown menu, click on ‘rename to continue.

  • Next, change the Excel file extension from XLS to XLSX or the other way round.

change file extension to fix if excel won’t open

Afterward, try opening the Excel file. If it opens, then you fixed the issue successfully.

Solution 2: Reset File Association

The file association is how your Excel files open seamlessly. It informs the Excel application to open the file.

However, there are times when there’s an issue with the file association, and Excel won’t open the file. This situation happens because Excel isn’t aware it should open the file. Keep reading to discover the fix to this issue.

  • First, you have to launch the Control Panel on your PC.

  • Next, open programs and then select default programs. 

choose to set your default programs
  • Next, click on ‘set your default programs, and a new windowpane will open.

choose to set your default programs
  • On this window, scroll to the option ‘reset to the Microsoft recommended defaults’ and click on the ‘reset’ option.

reset to Microsoft recommended defaults

If a broken file association was the problem, then these actions should fix it up. However, you should note that selecting ‘reset’ also reverts any manual changes you made to your files. If that’s not what you desire, then you should follow the steps below.

  • Instead of ‘reset to the Microsoft recommended defaults,’ click ‘choose default applications by file type.’

  • From the next screen, locate the Excel file extensions like .xls, .csv, .xlsx, etc, and set XLS as the default application.

search for all the excel file format

Solution 3: Repair Microsoft Office

Another possible reason for Excel not opening in Windows 10 is if Microsoft Office is corrupt. You could choose to uninstall it or update the package, but that’s a lot of work.

Instead, you should try the repair option first; it is ideal even for updated Microsoft Office options. Keep reading to discover the process.

  • To begin, press the Windows Key and R key together to open the run dialog box.

open the run dialog box
  • In the space provided, enter ‘appwiz.cpl.’ This will launch the programs and features windows pane. 

enter the command to launch programs and features
  • Look out for Microsoft Office in the list provided and right-click on it when you find it.

search for Microsoft office on the list
  • Choose change from the options. Sometimes, you will see the ‘repair’ option right there; click on it.

select change to continue
  • If you click ‘change,’ choose quick repair from the option that arises.

choose quick repair and then click repair
  • Next, click on the ‘repair’ button and follow the options that follow.

It will repair your Microsoft Office, and Excel should open if this is the issue within a few minutes.

However, if it isn’t and Excel won’t open, you could try to update the Microsoft office if you’re using an outdated option.

Solution 4: Repair Corrupt Excel File

Another top reason why Excel won’t open is if the Excel file is corrupt. It is a common reason for Excel not opening.

It usually occurs if the Excel application crashes while you’re saving the file. If that’s the problem, then Excel cannot open even if you double-click the file. Follow the prompts below to fix corrupt Excel files.

  • Firstly, launch the Excel application and open a blank document.

  • Next, select the file tab at the top of the page. 

navigate to the file tab
  • Choose ‘open’ from the list of options on the left and select the folder where the file is on the right pane.

select the folder the file is located
  • Next, select the file you want to open.

  • Before clicking ‘open,’ navigate to the small arrow next to the ‘open’ button and click on it.

  • From the dropdown menu, choose ‘open and repair’ to continue.

change to open and repair
  • If your files are corrupt, Excel would ask you if you simply want to repair the file or you’re looking to extract data.

  • You choose to select the ‘repair file’ option’ and only opt for ‘extract data’ if the first option doesn’t work.

Solution 5: Uncheck the Ignore DDE Box

If Excel is not communicating with other applications or the OS, it could be the reason for Excel not opening in Windows 10. For example, excel communicates with other applications using Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE).

If the right setting is not in place for the DDE, Excel won’t open. The default setting is to disable the DDE, but Excel files might not open if it gets enabled. Follow the steps below to fix the DDE issue.

  • Firstly, launch the Excel application through the start menu.

  • Click the ‘file’ tab at the top of the screen and then select options.

choose options from the list
  • In the dialog box that appears, choose the advanced option located on the left pane.

click advanced to continue
  • Go to the General section and scroll through the options.

  • Ensure that you disable the option ‘ignore other applications that use Dynamic Data Exchange.’

disable the option to fix excel won’t open issue
  • Once you do this, close the ‘options’ dialog box. 

If you enabled it before you disabled it, then it was probably the reason for the problem. The steps below should sort it out. If not, try the other solutions provided above.

Solution 5: Uncheck the Ignore DDE Box

If the above methods aren't tackle your problem, Wondershare Repairit is the best choice for you. This software is easy to use, with clear instructions and a high success rate to fix your broken files.

Here are the detailed steps for you to repair, let's go!

Step 1: Load corrupted files

Download and install Wondershare Repairit. Launch it on your system and go to the File Repair option.

Click on the Add button to upload corrupted files.

add file

As you select your Excel files from your Windows PC, the application will load them and will display the progress on the screen.

Step 2: Start repairing corrupted files

As soon as the file gets uploaded, click on the “Repair” button to commence the process. The software might take a while to complete the repair. Until then, you can check the progress of the process on the screen.

save file

Step 3: Preview and Save

Once the repair process is completed, the users can use the Preview function of the software to check whether the file is successfully repaired or not.

If you are satisfied with the final result, click on the “Save” button to store the repaired file at the designated location.

save photos

As a top-rated software for processing data, we always expect Microsoft Excel to operate smoothly.

However, there are occasions where Excel won’t open for one or a couple of reasons. Excel is more prone to issues than other Microsoft Office applications. We know how these problems can be quite an inconvenience for you. Therefore we understand the urgency to solve the problem of Excel not opening.

Closing Words

This article outlines the top reasons why Excel cannot open and also the solutions to the issues. The solutions are easy to follow and don’t require previous technical knowledge to pull off.

Wondershare Repairit is a good choice for you! You should also ensure that you always update your Microsoft office to fix existing bugs. Additionally, back up your files regularly to prevent data loss of any kind.

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