How to open an Excel 97/2003 .xls file in Excel 2016?


Here’s a question from Skyler:

“My xls files were created in the previous version of Excel. But now when I open the document in Excel 2016 it say its corrupted. Is there anyway to retrieve it?”

Thanks for your question and Yes there is a way to retrieve the document. We will discuss about it in the post.

Uncheck all trusted center:



  • Open Excel 2016, click on File and select Options.
  •  In the dialog box select Trust Center  and hit on Trust center settings.

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  •  Select Protected view on the left, uncheck all the options under Protected View and select OK.

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  •  Now restart Excel 2016 and try to open Excel document.

Try Compatibility mode:

Compatibility mode helps us open a workbook that was created in an earlier version of Excel and work in Compatibility Mode so that the workbook remains in a file format that can easily be opened again in the earlier version. As this mode is available in Excel 2016, there won’t be a problem in opening xls files in Excel 2016.

Create new xls file in Excel 2016:

  • We can create a new xls file by saving the format of the document to Excel 97-2003 workbook.

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  • Excel 97-2003 workbook is xls format

Save all files in xls format:

To save all the creating files in xls format in Excel 2016, we can set the default file format to xls files. Read further for the procedure.

  • Open the Excel 2016, click on File and select Options.
  • Click on Save on the left and in the Save files in this format drop down box, select Excel 97-2003 workbook.

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  • Hit OK
  • Now the default save format option for Excel documents will be as a xls file.

Thus opening and saving xls files in Excel 2016 can be done. Thanks for reading!

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