Fix Excel Cannot Open the File Because The Extension Is Not Valid

Abby Haines updated on Feb 23, 2020 to File Recovery | How-to Articles


Did you get an error message of 'Excel cannot open the file **.xlsx because the file format or file extension is not valid' while trying to open a file? Quick fixes and advanced solutions are available here to fix this problem and access your document.

Workable Solutions Step-by-step Troubleshooting
Fix 1. Change File Extension Open Microsoft Excel and go to "File" > click Export and choose Change File Type...Full steps
Fix 2. Open in Safe Mode Press Windows+R key, type: excel.exe /safe and click "OK" > Save the file as .xlsx...Full steps
Fix 3. Use Open and Repair Start Office Excel > click File and Open > select the inaccessible Excel file...Full steps
Fix 4. Recover from previous version Right-click the inaccessible Excel document and choose "Properties" > Open the "Previous Version"...Full steps
Fix 5. Recover from autorecover Open Office Excel and got to "File" tab > Open the file in Excel and click "Restore"...Full steps

Excel Cannot Open the File/the File Format or File Extinction Is Not Valid

Error - Excel can't open the file.

Sometimes, when you try to open or edit an Excel file on Microsoft Office 2003, 2007, 2010, 2013 or 2016, 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."

It usually indicates the file is not compatible with the Excel version or the file has come corrupt or damaged. In this article, we will show you all the possible solutions, and you can try them respectively until fixing the issue. 

Quick Fixes for 'Excel Cannot Open the File.xlsx' Error 

Two simple methods are provided to fix Excel quickly cannot open the file issue. 

1. Change the Excel File Extension

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

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

Change file extendsion.

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

2. Open the Excel File in Safe Mode

Step 1. Press Windows+R key, type: excel.exe /safe and click "OK".

Open Excel in Safe Mode.

Step 2. Save the file as .xlsx. It sometimes helps to access your data if Excel cannot open the file.xlsx because of the file corruption.

Advanced Solutions to 'Excel Cannot Open the File.xlsx' 

If the problem still exists after you have tried the above quick fixes, continue using another two advanced solutions to fix this error.  

1. Open Excel File Using Open and Repair Feature

Step 1. Start Office Excel.

Step 2. On the File menu or the Microsoft Office button, click "Open".

Step 3. In the Open dialog box, click to select the inaccessible Excel file.

Step 4. 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 corruptions it found. 

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

2. Recover Excel File from the Previous Version or AutoRecover

Restore from the previous versions

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

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

Open Excel properties.

Step 2. Open the "Previous Version" tab to list all the previously stored version of the Excel file.
Step 3. Choose the right version and click "Restore" to retrieve the document.

Restore from AutoRecover

This method only works when you have turned on the AutoSave feature in Office Excel. And it's also helpful for recovering unsaved Word document

Step 1. Open Office Excel and got to "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 another file name and set the extension as .xlsx.

Worthy Tips to Prevent Excel File from Loss

There are many ways to prevent data loss. If you have lost important Excel file due to careless deletion, hard drive formatting, or virus attack, you can use the data recovery tool to retrieve lost data. There is another crucial point to avoid data loss, that is backing up your Excel file at any time. 

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

Except for restoring unsaved Excel caused by Excel crashes when saving or other reasons, many users need to recover lost excel spreadsheets caused by accidental deletion, OS crash, hard drive damaged/corrupted or lost partition. On this occasion, you have to resort to a professional file recovery tool for help. And EaseUS file recovery software is worth to try. 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:

Step 1. Specify a location.

Run EaseUS Data Recovery Software. Choose the drive X: or perhaps a specific folder on Desktop or somewhere else where you lost the excel files, and then click "Scan".

select a location and click scan

Step 2. Scan for data.

During the scan, you'll see more and more data showing up very quickly in the "Deleted files" result. That's part of what the software has found and displayed. To quickly find the Excel files in the massive data in the scan results, click on the "Filter" on the top area and choose "Documents". Or, search .xls or .xlsx in the Search box. 

scan excel files

Step 3. Preview and recover.

You can double click on a file to preview its integrity. Finally, select the desired files and click "Recover".

preview and recover excel files

2. Back up Excel File Automatically 

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

Turn on AutoSave feature in Excel.


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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why choose EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard?

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2. Why cannot I recover 2GB data for free?

It is recommended to check the version installed is Free or Trial because they are different versions.

Trial has data preview function but cannot save any files, while the Free version enables to recover 2 GB files. The default free space is 500 MB and you may share the product on social media to get another 1.5 GB.

3. Why cannot the recovered files be opened?

A file is saved as 2 parts on the storage device: directory info (which is comprised by file name, time stamp and size info, etc.) and data content.

If the files with original file names and folder structures cannot be opened, one possible reason is the corrupted directory info. There is still a chance to recover the data content with the RAW Recovery method in our software.

4. Why isn't it suggested to recover the files back to the original drive?

The storage structure of the lost files would be altered or damaged by any changes on the drive. If you save the recovered files back to the same drive, the original data structures and data content would be corrupted or overwritten, which causes permanent data loss. So you should prepare another disk to save the files.

5. How can I check whether my data is recoverable or not before purchase?

The Free version helps you save 2GB files to better verify the recovery quality of our product before purchase.

6. How long does it take to scan the drive?

It strongly depends on the capacity of your hard drive and the performance of your computer. As reference,most drive recoveries can be completed in around 10 to 12 hours for a 1-TB healthy hard drive in general conditions.

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