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How to Fix Excel Found Unreadable Content Error (Easy Guide)

When you are trying to open Excel 2007/2010, you may encounter this error. Excel found unreadable content in 'filename.xlsx'. Do you want to recover the contents of this workbook? If you trust the source of this workbook, click Yes. Follow the steps below to resolve the 'Excel found unreadable content in filename.xls' error in MS Excel.


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Excel Found Unreadable Content in 'Filename.xlsx'

"Hi Team, I am generating files using this module. Some files I am able to open without any issues. But some other file
I am getting errors like 'Excel found unreadable content in XXXX.xlsx'. I am unable to resolve the issue. Can you please confirm, if it is an issue with the file or with the module and help me to fix it out. I have attached two files out of which the file I am able to open without any issue is 'Export_201605.xlsx'."

Excel found unreadable content

Does the Excel file have unreadable content? You can solve the problem here! What Is Excel file corruption? It is when contents inside an Excel workbook go haywire. A workbook can be damaged, if improperly manipulated, by any application which reads or writes .xlsx files.

Workable Solutions Step-by-step Troubleshooting
Recover/Repair Corrupted Excel Download, install and launch Stellar Toolkit for File Repair. Go to the software's home screen and...Full steps
Set Excel as Read-only In Excel, click "File" from the main menu. Select "Save" for a new...Full steps
Install Visual Basic Component Go to "Control Panel > Programs > select Microsoft Office 2010"...Full steps

What Causes the Excel Found Unreadable Content Error

Many reasons could lead to this error. The main reasons are listed below:

  • The cache of the Excel is probably full
  • Virus attack or file corruption happens on your PC
  • Excel application is not installed completely on your computer
  • The system errors or system failure which causes full or partial file corruption

As you can see, corruption can be a reason that leads to this error. Following are some workarounds you can try to resolve this error.

Method 1. Repair Corrupted Excel Content with File Repair Tool 

To fix corrupted Excel files and recover tables, images, charts, and formulas from Excel, use professional file repair software - Stellar Toolkit for File Repair. It is designed to repair corrupted Office files and PDF documents efficiently. 

Stellar file repair software:

  • Repair corrupted files with original format
  • Support batch repair at a single time
  • Repair damaged, corrupted, or inaccessible PDF files, and recovers all objects

Step 1. Select the Excel Files

Download, install and launch Stellar Toolkit for File Repair. Go to the software's home screen and click "Repair Spreadsheet".

Select the Excel Files

Step 2. Repair the Excel Files

Browse to select the corrupt Excel files (XLS/XLSX). You can click on the Search option if you don't know its location. Once the file is selected, click "Repair". The software will initiate the scanning and repairing process.

Repair the Excel Files

Step 3. Preview and Save

Once the scan and repair process is over, the items will be displayed in a tree-view on the software's left-hand panel. Preview the items by double-clicking on them.

If the file preview is satisfactory, click the "Save File" button on the main menu. When prompted, choose the destination to save the salvaged file. Click "OK".

Preview and Save

Method 2. Set the Excel File as Read-only

You can try to use the read-only mode to remove the error "Excel found unreadable content". Here are the details:

Step 1. In Excel, click "File" from the main menu.

Step 2. Select "Save" for a new document or "Save As" for the previously saved document.

save as read only to fix Excel found unreadable content

Step 3. From the "Save As" dialog box, click "Tools > General Options".

Step 4. Click the "read-only" checkbox to make the document read-only, and then click "OK". 

fix Excel found unreadable content by turning on read only

Now open a new, empty .xls file. Next, you need to copy everything from the damaged file to the new file. After that, save the file.

Method 3. Install Visual Basic Component of MS Office

It is said that installing the "Visual Basic" component of MS Office 2010 resolves the error message. You can apply the steps to repair unreadable excel files:

Step 1. Go to "Control Panel > Programs > select Microsoft Office 2010".

Step 2. Click "Change > Add or Remove Programs". Click the "plus" sign provided next to Office Shared Features at the bottom of this list.

Step 3. Click "Visual Basic for Applications" and select "Run from My Computer".

Then, reboot your system when this process finishes in order to get the data recovered after fixing the issue.


If you are faced with Excel found unreadable content error, don't worry. There are many ways to repair Excel files and recover lost data. Stellar Toolkit for File Repair is my recommendation. With it, you can not only restore Excel files but also repair damaged Office files with simple clicks.

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Updated by Cedric

Cedric Grantham is one of the senior editors of EaseUS who lives and works in Chengdu, China. He mainly writes articles about data recovery tutorials on PC and Mac and how-to tips for partition management. He always keeps an eye on new releases and likes various electronic products.

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Written by Brithny

Brithny is a technology enthusiast, aiming to make readers' tech life easy and enjoyable. She loves exploring new technologies and writing technical how-to tips. On her spare time, she loves sharing things about her favorite singer - Taylor Swift on her Facebook or Twitter.

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