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Excel Cannot Open the File Because The File Format or File Extension Is Not Valid

Do you get an error message: Excel cannot open the file .xlsx because the file format or file extension is not valid? Quick fixes and advanced solutions are offered here to help you fix this error on Microsoft Office 2007, 2010, 2013, or 2016. Besides, if you lost Excel files, you can download EaseUS data recovery software to get additional help.

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Table of Contents

3 Fixes for "Excel Cannot Open The File Because the Extension Is Not Valid"

The file format of an Excel worksheet is .xlsx or .xls. Whenever the user opens any file, it is opened with the same extension. However, some users may encounter an error when trying to open or edit an Excel file in Office 2003, 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and 365. The error message displayed reads "Excel cannot open the file because the extension is not valid".

This article will provide you with three effective solutions to resolve the "Excel cannot open the file because the file format or file extension is not valid" error. You can change the file extension, use the Office repair utility, or use one of the best data recovery software to repair Excel files. 

Workable Solutions Step-by-step Troubleshooting
Fix 1. EaseUS File Repair Tool Launch EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, and then scan the corrupted or damaged Excel files...Full steps
Fix 2. Change File Extension Open Microsoft Excel and go to "File" > click Export and choose Change File Type...Full steps
Fix 3. Use Open and Repair Start Office Excel > click File and Open > select the inaccessible Excel file...Full steps

Overview - Excel Cannot Open The File

Sometimes, when you try to open or edit an Excel file in Microsoft Office 2003, 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, or 365, you may encounter the following problem:

"Excel cannot open the file 'filename.xlsx' because the file format or file extension is not valid. Verify that the file has not been corrupted and that the file extension matches the format of the file."

Error - Excel can't open the file  because the extension is not valid

It usually indicates the file is not compatible with the Excel version of the file that has come corrupt or damaged. Here, we will show you all the possible solutions, and you can try these until your issue is fixed. Before you follow the solutions, check if Excel is working normally.

Step 1. Press Windows+R keys, type excel.exe /safe, and click "OK". Loading Excel without templates and add-ins allows you to see if the program works as it should or if it is corrupted.

Step 2. If Excel opens normally, check for any add-ins that are causing problems in Excel. Disable the add-ins and click on the "OK" button. Then, restart Excel to check if the problem is fixed. If not, move on to the fixes below.

check your excel application

1 - Excel Cannot Open the File on Windows 10/8/7 [Fixed]

There are three useful solutions in total here to solve the Excel cannot open file issue. Besides, two methods are provided to recover Excel when the file format or file extension is not valid. 

[Related reading: Excel not saving changes]

infographic - how to fix Excel cannot open the file because the extension is not valid

Fix 1. Use EaseUS File Repair Tool to Fix Excel Cannot Open the File

If the "Excel cannot open the file because the extension is not valid" problem is caused by file corruption and not by file compatibility, you need a professional file repair program to help you fix the problem. 

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is an all-in-one tool that can help recover deleted files and repair corrupt files easily and efficiently.

EaseUS Excel Data Recovery/Repair Tool

  • Recover corrupted Excel files in XLSX/XLS formats
  • Repair single or multiple Excel files without quantity limit
  • Supports MS Excel 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, 2007, 2003, XP, 2000, 97, and 95 versions
  • Repair corrupted JPEG/JPG or repair damaged MP4 and MOV files
 Download for Win Recovery Rate 99.7%
 Download for Mac Trustpilot Rating 4.4

Go ahead and download the EaseUS MS Office document repair tool, then follow the step-by-step guides below to repair damaged Excel files in three steps:

Step 1. Launch EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, and then scan disk with corrupted documents. This software enables you to fix damaged Word, Excel, PPT, and PDF files in same steps. 

select the disk with corrupted documents

Step 2. EaseUS data recovery and repair tool will scan for all lost and corrupted files. You can find the target files by file type or type the file name in the search box. 

find corrupted documents

Step 3. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard can repair your damaged documents automatically. After file preview, you can click "Recover" to save the repaired Word, Excel, and PDF document files to a safe location.

repair corrrupt documents

Fix 2. Change the Excel File Extension to Open It

Many times, this error occurs due to the incompatible file extension of the Excel file. MS Excel saves Excel workbooks as XLSX or XLS files by default. Excel 2003 and earlier versions save files as XLS, whereas Excel 2007 and later versions like Excel 2010, Excel 2013, Excel 2016, and 2019 save files in XLSX file format. You can change the default file format for the corresponding Excel version to any other file format supported by MS Excel.

Step 1. Open Microsoft Excel and go to the "File" tab.

Step 2. Click "Export" and choose "Change File Type".

Step 3. Change the file extension to any other file format that MS Excel supports and click "Save As". Then, Check whether Excel can open your file or not.

Change file extendsion to fix excel cannot open the file because the extension is not valid

Fix 3. Open Excel File Using the Open and Repair Feature

The "Open and Repair" is a built-in easy-to-use MS Excel utility that allows you to correct the "Excel cannot open the file because the file format or file extension is not valid" error.

Step 1. Start Office Excel. On the File menu or the Microsoft Office button, click "Open".

Step 2. In the Open dialog box, click to select the inaccessible Excel file.

Step 3. Click the down arrow on the Open button, and then click "Open and Repair". Microsoft Office will then start to check the Excel document and repair problems or corruption it found. 

Fix 'Excel cannot open this file' error with Open and Repair feature.

2 - How to Fix Excel Cannot Open the File on Mac

Some users have reported that they couldn't open Excel files on Mac. They also receive this error - Excel cannot open the file because the file format or file extension is not valid. If you are faced with this error, you are unable to view or edit your Excel file. Follow the solutions below, and you can troubleshoot the Office problems.

Fix 1. Restart Excel on Mac

  • Quit the Excel application: click "Excel > Quit Excel".
  • Try to open your Excel file on Mac again.

restart excel on mac

Fix 2. Restart Mac

  • Go to the "Apple menu > restart".

restart Mac

Fix 3. Change Excel File Format on Mac

  • Click "File" from the menu bar.
  • In the "Export To" pop-out menu, pick "Excel".
  • To adjust the file format between XLSX and XLS, click "Advanced Options" and choose the one you want.

change file format on mac

3 - Recover Excel File When the File Format or File Extension Is Not Valid

If your unsaved Excel file cannot be opened because the file format or file extension is not valid, how would you recover unsaved Excel files?  In this case, try the two ways below. 

1. Restore Unsaved Excel Wordbook from Previous Versions

This method only restores lost files to a previous version. It means that you might lose some changes you may have made to the document.

Step 1. Right-click the inaccessible Excel file and choose "Properties".

Open Excel properties

Step 2. Open the "Previous Version" tab to list all the previously stored versions of the Excel file.

Step 3. Choose the most recent version and click "Restore" to retrieve the spreadsheet.

recover unsaved excel from previous versions

2. Restore Unsaved Excel File Using AutoRecover

This method only works if you have turned on the AutoSave feature in Microsoft Excel. This feature is also helpful for recovering unsaved Word documents

Step 1. Open Office Excel and head into the "File" tab > click "Info".

Step 2. Beside Manage Versions, you'll see all autosaved versions of your file.

Restore cannot be opened Excel file from previous version.

Step 3. Open the file in Excel and click "Restore". 

Restore Excel file that cannot be opened

Step 4. Save the file with a new file name and set the extension as .xlsx.

4 - Important Tips to Prevent Excel File from Getting Loss

There are many ways to prevent data loss. If you have lost important Excel files due to accidental deletion, hard drive formatting, or virus attacks, you can use the data recovery tool to retrieve lost data. Another crucial point to avoid data loss is backing up your Excel file on a regular basis.

1. Recover Deleted or Lost Excel File with File Recovery Software

In addition to restoring unsaved Excel caused by Excel crashes when saving or other reasons, many users may want to recover lost excel spreadsheets caused by accidental deletion, OS crash, hard drive damaged/corrupted, or lost partition. In these cases, you have to resort to a professional file recovery tool for help. And, EaseUS file recovery software is worth trying. It allows you to recover deleted DOC/DOCX, XLS/XLSX, PPT/PPTX, PDF, CWK, HTML/HTM, INDD, EPS, etc. with a few clicks.

Give it a try to get your lost Excel back immediately:

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

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

2. Back-Up Excel File Automatically

If you modify and change your worksheet frequently, turning on the AutoSave feature is a good idea. Or, you can manually copy and backup your file to another safe location in case of accidents.

Turn on AutoSave feature in Excel

Final Words

"Excel cannot open the file '(filename)' .xlsx because the file format for file extension is not valid" is a normal error that you can face while opening an Excel file. With the help of the above methods, this error can easily be resolved without data loss.

If Excel cannot open the file problem is due to file corruption, the EaseUS file repair tool can help you fix and recover the Excel file with a few clicks pretty quickly. It is good at repairing photos, videos, documents, and other files on the hard drive, SD card, memory card, or any other storage medium. No matter whether they are lost or exist on your devices. It's worth a shot.

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

FAQs

The following four frequently asked questions are extremely relevant to the "Excel cannot open the file because the file format or file extension is not valid" error. If you also have any of these problems, you can find the methods here.

How do I fix the file format or file extension is not valid?

You can try to fix the "Excel cannot open the file because the file format or file extension is not valid" error by changing the file extension:

Step 1. Open your Excel file. On the taskbar, select "File" and then choose "Options" > "Export" > "Change File Type".

Step 2. You can directly change the file extension depending on the version of Excel installed.  Click "Save As". Then, check if the error "Excel cannot open the file" is resolved or not.

How do I recover an Excel file format or file extension that is not valid?

You can restore the Excel file format, or the file extension is not valid from previous versions.

Select the damaged file. Right-click it and click "Properties" > "Previous Version". A list of previous versions will appear; you need to select the option you are interested in and click "Restore" to recover. Previous versions come from File History or restore points.

What does file extension not valid mean?

"Excel cannot open the file '(filename)' .xlsx because the file format for file extension is not valid" is a common error that many users may encounter while opening a .xlsx file, especially when opening a spreadsheet received through an email. The possible reasons for this issue might be:

  • The Excel file is corrupt or damaged.
  • The Excel file is not compatible with the version of MS Excel you're using.

Why can't I open an XLSX file?

When the Excel file is corrupted, not compatible with the Excel version, infected by the virus, or received by email, these are the common causes of the "Excel cannot open the file because the file format or file extension is not valid" problem. If any of these problems appear, you can't open your XLSX file. 

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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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Approved by Mahesh Makvana

Mahesh is an experienced computer tech writer. He's been writing tech how-to guides for about 8 years now and has covered many topics. He loves to teach people how they can get the most out of their devices.

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