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XLS VS XLSX | What's the Real Difference of .xls VS .xlsx [Full Guide]

What is XLS VS XLSX? What are the differences between .xls VS .xlsx? Can you convert XLS to XLSX or convert XLSX to XLS? You can find all answers here. What's more, you can learn how to recover deleted and repair corrupted XLS and XLSX files with EaseUS data recovery software.

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Table of Contents

User case: What is the real difference between a .xls vs .xlsx file?

"Hi, can anyone explain the real difference between XLS and XLSX files in detail? I have many .xls files. I begin using Office version 2019 recently and wonder if it is useful to change them all to .xlsx instead of still saving them to .xls format. Will I lose anything?" - A user from answers.microsoft.com

What Is XLS VS XLSX

XLS is the file format generated by Excel 2003 and before, while XLSX is the file format created by Excel 2007 and later. 

xls vs xlsx

What Is XLS

XLS is a Microsoft Excel worksheet, which is a very commonly used spreadsheet format. The .xls file can be opened with Microsoft Excel. In addition, Microsoft has developed a special viewer Excel Viewer for users who do not have Excel installed.

You can use Microsoft Excel to convert XLS format tables into multiple formats: XML tables, XML data, web pages, text files separated by tabs (*.txt), text files separated by commas (*.csv), etc.

What Is XLSX

XLSX is the file extension of Microsoft Office Excel 2007/2010/2013/2016/2019 documents. .xlsx is used from Office 2007, it replaces its current proprietary default file format with a new XML-based compressed file format, and adds the letter x after the traditional file name extension to make it occupy a smaller space, for example .docx replaces .doc, .xlsx replace .xls, .pptx replaces .ppt, etc.)

Difference Between XLS and XLSX in Tabular Form

.xls vs .xlsx, which is better? You can learn the differences, advantages, and disadvantages from the two from the following aspects.

Comparison XLS XLSX
Format XLS is a proprietary binary format XLSX is based on Microsoft Office Open XML format.
Version 2003 and older versions versions since 2007
File size XLS files are larger  XLSX files are smaller
Capability XLS is compatible with older versions before 2003 XLSX does not work well on some older software and systems
Ability   XLS can store fewer data than XLSX. XLSX has more rows and columns capacity than XLS.

Comparison summary: What's the best format to save Excel files? XLS is a newer table file format than XLS. Compared with XLS, apart from being incompatible with old versions of Excel and some old data systems, it has all its merits. Therefore, if there is no compatibility consideration, it is recommended that you use the .xlsx format.

How to Convert XLSX to XLS or Save XLS as XLSX File

Yes, you can convert an XLSX file to an XLS file or vice versa easily by taking the ways below.

Step 1. Open the XLSX file that you want to convert with Excel 2007 or later.

Step 2. Click File at the top left corner. Click on "Save As", and set a location for the file.

convert xlsx to xls

Step 3. Click the drop-down menu of Save as type, and choose Excel 97-2003 Workbook(*.xls).

save xlsx as xls

Step 4. Rename the file and click on Save. Then, the XLSX file will become XSL.

How to Convert XLSX to XLS Without Opening

This is another way to convert an XLSX document to XLS without opening the file.

Step 1. Press Windows + E keys to open the file explorer.

Step 2. Go to the folder in which the file is stored.  

Step 3. Right-click on the XLSX file, and select "Rename". Change .xlsx to .xls.

Step 4. Click "Yes" to save the change.

Bonus Tips: How to Recover Deleted Excel Files on Windows 10/8/7

Accidental deletion is the main reason for file loss, Excel is no exception. You may lose your hard-working Excel files due to careless deletion, hard drive formatting, virus attack, USB flash drive corruption, emptying Recycle Bin, and so on.

How to restore deleted or lost Excel files on Windows 10, Windows 10, or Windows 7? EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard comes to help. Being one of the best file recovery tools, you can use it to:

  • Recover deleted, formatted, and inaccessible data in different data loss situations.
  • Recover lost Word documents, photos, audio, music, and emails from any storage effectively, safely, and completely.
  • Retrieve data from the recycle bin, hard drive, memory card, SD card, flash drive, digital camera, and camcorder.
  • Restore lost data on Windows 10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP and Windows Server 2019 - 2003.

Free download EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard to get back deleted Excel files with simple steps. What's more, it is also good at repairing corrupted Excel Word, PDF, as well as PPT files.

 Download for Win Recovery Rate 99.7%
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Step 1. Select location and click "Scan"

Choose the drive or a specific folder on Desktop or somewhere else where you lost the excel files, and click the "Scan" button.

select the location of the Excel files

Step 2. Locate your excel files

To quickly find the Excel files from the scan results, click the "Documents" option in the left panel. Choose "Excel", and click "Preview" to check if the Excel files are the wanted ones.

scan the lost excel files

Step 3. Recover Excel files

Finally, select the desired Excel files and click the "Recover" button. Then, select a folder to save the Excel files to another location.

recover Excel files

More Relative Topics About XLSX VS XLS

Here are more related readings about XLSX VS XLS.

Why is XLSX smaller than XLS?

.xlsx replaces the previous .xls file format with a new XML-based compressed file format and adds the letter x after the traditional file name extension. .xlsx is actually compressed to make it take up less space. You can change the XLSX file to a zip and open it with an unzip tool.

Can you convert XLS to XLXS?

Yes, you can convert a file between XLS and XLSX. Just open the file in Excel, and use the Save as feature to change the file to XLS or XLSX format.

XLS VS CSV

CSV is a text file that can be opened with Notepad, while XLS is a binary file that can only be opened with Excel.

XLS or XLSX files are the file format for Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. CSV is the most common file format and can be easily imported into a variety of PC tables and databases. In a CSV file, one row is one row of the data table. Generate data table fields separated by half corner commas.

CSV files will be smaller, easier to create, distribute and read, and suitable for storing structured information, such as record exports, traffic statistics, and so on. The default way to open a CSV file on Windows is Excel, but it is essentially a text file.

Concluding Words

In this tutorial, we cover all the basic information about XLS and XLSX. They are all file formats for Microsoft Office Excel and are suffixes for different versions of files. They all have their advantages and disadvantages, and you can choose the most suitable format for your specific application.

We also show you the way to convert a file between XLS and XLSX. You can do it the way we taught you. It's easy. Besides, you can learn to use EaseUS data recovery tool to recover deleted Excel files and fix corrupted Excel documents effectively.

 Download for Win Recovery Rate 99.7%
 Download for Mac Trustpilot Rating 4.4

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Updated by Daisy

Daisy is the Senior editor of the writing team for EaseUS. She has been working in EaseUS for over ten years, starting from a technical writer to a team leader of the content group. As a professional author for over 10 years, she writes a lot to help people overcome their tech troubles.

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Written 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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