Excel Cannot Open The File Issue Overview

I have a excel.xlsx file saved in my system which has been corrupted .I atleast need to recover the data stores .It is a file of 124 KB and has around 35 worksheets in the workbook .I have tried all possible ways to recover and repair the file. from Microsoft Community

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 opening or editing 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".

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.

This article will provide you with comprehensive 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 file repair software to repair corrupted Excel files

We have full solutions to help you solve Excel cannot open the file because the extension is not valid issue in this post. In the beginning, you can watch a video tutorial to troubleshoot corrupted Word/Excel files. The key moments in this video are as follows:

  • 00:14 Method 1. Insert to a new Word document
  • 00:38 Method 2. Use open and repair
  • 00:55 Method 3. Default settings
  • 01:30 Method 4. EaseUS Fixo Document Repair
troubleshoot corrupted Word Excel files

How to Fix Excel Cannot Open the File Because the Extension Is Not Valid on Windows [5 Fixes]

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 the 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. When your Excel is running slow, you can use this method to quickly fix the issue by removing the add-ins.

check your excel application

Here are three useful solutions in total to solve the Excel cannot open file problem. 

🔧Use the EaseUS File Repair Tool This method is suitable for users who encounter errors when trying to open an Excel file due to corruption or damage. It provides an automated and user-friendly solution to repair the file and make it accessible again.
📛Change the Excel File Extension Sometimes, changing the Excel file extension can help resolve the issue. For example, it was renamed ".xlsx" to ".xls" or vice versa. This method tricks Excel into recognizing the file as a valid format and allows it to be opened.
Get Permission to Access A lack of permissions may have caused the not valid error. You can add file permission for the unopened Excel file to fix the issue.
Use Open and Repair Feature This method is suitable for users who encounter issues with specific Excel files and want to try repairing them using the native functionality of Excel.
📒Recover Unsaved Workbook This method can help you repair and restore the unsaved Excel files. When you cannot open Excel or close Excel files without saving changes, you can use this method.

Fix 1. Use the EaseUS File Repair Tool

If the "Excel cannot open the file because the extension is not valid" problem is caused by corrupt Excel files and not by file compatibility, you need a professional file repair program to help you fix the problem. EaseUS Fixo Document Repair is an all-in-one tool that can help with corrupted file repair easily and efficiently. You can download this software now and get the trial version.

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This handy tool can help resolve multiple file corruption issues. You can check the following information to learn more about EaseUS Fixo:

After downloading the EaseUS Fixo repair tool, follow the step-by-step guides below to repair damaged Excel files in three steps:

Step 1. Double-click the EaseUS Fixo Document Repair to launch it. Choose "File Repair" and add not open Excel files to repair.

Step 2. After selecting all the Excel files needing repair, click "Repair All" to start the repair process.

Step 3. You can preview the repaired Excel files and click "Save All" to save them to the default folder.

repair damaged Excel files

EaseUS Fixo is easy to use and safe. You can click the following sharing buttons to let more readers know about Fixo!


Fix 2. Change the Excel File Extension to Fix Excel Cannot Open the File

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" (Excel not saving changes? Quick tips are here). 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. Get Permission to Access Excel Files

When you fail to access Excel files, that may be because you are not the administrator of these files. That means you don't have permission to read/write these files. We will show you how to change the file permission in Windows OS:

Step 1. Go to the target folder and find the Excel that the extension is not valid. Right-click the file and open the "Properties".

Step 2. Click the "Security" tab and choose "Edit".

click Security tab and choose Edit

Step 3. Select the account you are using and click "Add". Then, a new window opens, and click "Advanced".

open Advanced settings window

Step 4. Click "Find Now", and you should click "Everyone" in the results. Then, click "OK".

find Everyone group

Step 5. Then, click "OK" again to return the permission window. 

Step 6. Click the "Everyone" group and check every allow box below. Click "OK" to save the changes.

save changes

Fix 4. 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.

You can also read the following passage to open and repair Word documents:

open and repair word

10 Word Repair Fixes: How to Open and Repair Corrupt Word 2016/2019

Do you know how to troubleshoot a Word .doc or .docx file that will not open or unreadable issue? On this page, you will learn more. Read more >>

Fix 5. Use the Recover Unsaved Workbooks Option

If you are trying to open an unsaved Excel workbook, and this not-valid error suddenly appears, you can try to recover this unsaved Excel with Microsoft's built-in utility. This method is super simple but not that useful for everyone. Check the following tutorial to learn more:

Step 1. Open Microsoft Excel in Windows and click "File".

click File in Excel

Step 2. Select the Info tab, and click "Manage Workbook" > "Recover Unsaved Workbooks". Then, you can recover any unsaved Excel files in the opening window.

recover unsaved workbook Excel

Several Windows users have proved the efficacy of these fixes. If one of the methods is helpful in resolving Excel cannot open the file because the file format or file extension is not valid issue, share it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms!


Fix Excel Cannot Open the File Because the File Format or File Extension Is Not Valid on Mac [3 Fixes]

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 extension is invalid. 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 and recover the Excel files cannot be opened on Mac.

Fix 1. Restart Excel on Mac

Step 1. Quit the Excel application: click "Excel > Quit Excel".

Step 2. 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

Step 1. Click "File" from the menu bar.

Step 2. In the "Export To" pop-out menu, pick "Excel".

Step 3. To adjust the file format between XLSX and XLS, click "Advanced Options" and choose the one you want.

change file format on mac

How to 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 excel file not saved?  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. It can fix the not valid issue and recover your unsaved files. 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. Besides 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.

Important Tips: How to Prevent Excel Files 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 EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard 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 Files 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 damage/corruption, 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.

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

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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

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 an accident.

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 Fixo Document Repair can help you fix and repair 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. It's worth a shot.

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Excel Cannot Open the File 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. You can find the methods here if you also have any of these problems.

1. How do you solve Excel cannot open the file because 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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 a senior editor and data recovery specialist of EaseUS. He mainly writes articles and how-to tips about data recovery on PC and Mac. He has handled 10,000+ data recovery cases and is good at data recovery of NTFS, FAT (FAT32 and ExFAT) file systems, and RAID structure reorganization.

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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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