Last updated: September 2019
Applicable to: Office 365, 2019, 2016, 2013, 2007. Windows 7 and 10 operating systems.
Skyler set us a note about her Microsoft Excel spreadsheet not opening:
“I work as an analyst and have a significant number of old .xls files were created in the previous versions of Excel. Now that i have upgraded to the new version, Excel 365 won’t open the existing files telling me that they are corrupted and can’t be opened. Is there any possible way to associate or convert Excel 2003 files to version 2016 or 2019, so they’ll open up correctly? I have invested significant amount of work in those files and would hate starting all the work from scratch :-(.
Many readers have asked us about how to troubleshoot compatibility issues between older Office versions and the existing version 2016. In this post we’ll discuss what to actually do if Excel is not opening your existing .xls format files or won’t save changes you make to existing spreadsheets into a new format. Although we have written the tutorial specifically for Excel, the information and procedure below are obviously fully applicable to other relevant Microsoft Office applications such as Word, PowerPoint and Visio.
Compatibility Mode allows to convert Office files so they become usable in later versions.
Two caveats with using Compatibility on your existing xls workbooks:
Fine with the two caveats above? Please proceed as following to convert your workbook to version 2016:
This should probably be your last resort, but if the steps below didn’t help, you might want to try setting the Excel 97-2003 workbook format to be the default in Office 2016-2019. Proceed as following:
If you have a very significant amount of documents you would like to convert, you could potentially automate the entire task. Feel free to contact us for more details.