What to do when Excel File won’t open

Sometimes Excel user won’t able to open the file when right clicks on it and select open option, double click on the file or using Open with option. In this blog, I will focus on a particular error message “Excel file won’t open”. There is no single reason for this error message. It can occur due to different scenarios. Here are some possible reasons are:


1) Unrecognizable Format: When a user tries to open MS Excel file of the lower version to higher version (Ex: Excel 2010 to Excel 2003) then Excel generates “This file is not in a recognizable format” error that prevents use to open the file.

To fix this issue, you must download compatibility pack and viewers. You can download this pack for excel from here. It will also work for MS Word and PowerPoint.

2) Corruption in Excel File: If user tried to open corrupted excel file; Excel automatically tries to repair the file and recover data from it.

If the recovery option fails, then user can repair the file manually. Change the program setting manually then use Open & Repair option. To do this, read the following steps:

1. Open MS Excel and press ALT+F to switch into the file mode.

2. Select options->Formulas->Calculation option. Select Manual option and click OK.

3. Now go to Open option, and select the file which you want to recover.

4. Click on the file and choose “Open and Repair” option from drop-down menu.

5. Click on Repair option.

After using these methods, user is still unable to open the file then use a third party tool to repair corrupt Excel file can be recommended.

3) DDE function error: DDE stands for Dynamic Data Exchange. In this case, MS Excel launces with empty Excel window. Menu and ribbon will be visible and functioning.

To fix this issue, go to File > Options > Advanced > General Section > Check mark the option "Ignore other application that use Dynamic Data Exchange" then OK.

4) File Attachment Issue: When a user gets an Excel file as an attachment via Outlook then attached Excel file can be a cause of this error. To fix this issue, follow the solution od DDE function error. If you tried it but not fixed the problem yet then, clear the Outlook’s secure Temp folder.

Points to Remember

Now it’s time to talk about the precautions that we can take to protect our Excel file from corruption or any other issue.

· Always take the backup of your file. For this, an automatic backup option will be helpful.

· Use anti-virus on the PC, Laptop, and other devices.

· In many cases, the hardware is also responsible for Excel file corruption. Check the hardware of your device into a specific time period.

· Check the read and write permission of the file.

Conclusion: I have discussed many scenarios which can stop an Excel file to open and their solutions. I hope you enjoy this learning and it will be helpful for you.

Special Thanks to : Priyanka Chouhan is a technical writer in Stellar Data Recovery with 5 years of experience and has written several articles on MS Excel. In the spear time she loves reading and gardening

Amey (Exploring Excel)

I am enthusiastic Excel learner and Expert. I am founder of ExploringExcel.com with Articles, tutorials and videos.

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