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.

2015-12-02 23_41_31-Excel Options

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

2015-12-02 23_42_37-Trust Center

  •  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.

2015-12-02 23_44_21-Book1 - Excel

  • 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.

2015-12-02 23_45_07-Excel Options

  • Hit OK
  • Now the default save format option for Excel documents will be as a xls file.
  • Voi’la you are able to open older Excel versions in Excel 2016

Suggested next steps

  • If you are still running an older Microsoft Office version, we recommend you give Office 365 a try. It delivers access to the entire suite + 1 TB of storage per user as a bonus. Sign up for Office 365 here.
  • Got a related question ? See our quick guide on how to get your Excel questions answered.

Leave a Comment:

Add Your Reply