Microsoft Excel has become a staple application in various industries around the world. Many professionals, including those in the finance and accounting fields, use Microsoft Excel to record and analyze data. The software’s versatile features have made it a go-to program for creating financial models, budgeting, and managing data. However, just like any other software, using it may come with hiccups, such as encountering a problem when opening a file. In this article, we will discuss ways to open an Excel file and troubleshoot common problems that users face.

Opening Excel Files

Opening an Excel file can be done using various methods. The most common ways to open a file are the following:

  • Menu Open on Excel
  • Double Click
  • Right-Click

Menu Open on Excel

The first method to try is using the Excel application to open the file. Here are the steps:

  1. Open Microsoft Excel
  2. Click on the “File” tab on the top left corner of the screen
  3. Click on “Open” or use the keyboard shortcut “Ctrl + O”
  4. Select the Excel file to open from where it is saved on your computer
  5. Click “Open”

After following these steps, the Excel file should open without any issues. However, if an error message pops up, refer to the troubleshooting part of this article.

Double Click

Another common method to open an Excel file is to double click on the file directly from where it is saved on your computer. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Find the Excel file on your computer’s directory
  2. Double click on the file

If the Excel application is installed on your computer, the file should open automatically and display the contents.


The third method is to right-click on the Excel file and select “Open with Excel” from the dropdown list. This method involves the following steps:

  1. Find the Excel file on your computer’s directory
  2. Right-click on the file
  3. Select “Open with Excel”

The file should open automatically after these steps. If you experience issues with opening the file with any of these methods, go to the next section to troubleshoot the problem.

Troubleshooting Common Problems

Excel files can encounter problems that prevent them from opening normally. Below are some of the issues that may cause errors and how to troubleshoot them.

File Password Protected

Excel files created to protect sensitive information are typically password-protected to prevent unauthorized access. If you attempt to open a password-protected file, Excel will prompt you to enter the password. If the file is password-protected and you don’t have the password, you will not be able to open it. Here’s how to open a password-protected file:

  1. Open Excel
  2. Click “File” and select “Open”
  3. Select the password-protected Excel file
  4. Enter the password in the “Password” field

If the password is correct, the Excel file will open without any issues. If you don’t have the password, try asking the file owner for it.

File Corrupted

Excel files can also become corrupted, making it nearly impossible to open and access the data. A corrupt file can occur due to multiple reasons, such as network connectivity issues, power outages, or hardware failure. When you attempt to open a corrupt file, Excel may display an error message, such as “Excel cannot open the file because the file format or extension is not valid”. However, some common ways to fix a corrupted file are as follows:

  1. Copy the content of the corrupt file into a new Excel document
  2. Use a Data Recovery Tool to repair the Excel file
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Copy Corrupt File to a New Document

If the file is corrupt, you can try to recover the data by copying it to a new Excel document. Here’s how:

  1. Open a new Microsoft Excel document
  2. Go to the corrupted Excel file and click “Ctrl + A” to select all the contents
  3. Go back to the new document, right-click on the sheet’s tab, and select “Move or Copy”
  4. Select “Create a copy” and click “OK”

If the data is copied successfully, you should be able to access it without issues. However, it may take some time to paste the data if the file is large.

Use a Data Recovery Tool to Repair the Excel File

If the file is severely damaged, using a third-party data recovery tool may be necessary. Some of the most popular data recovery tools available are Stellar, EaseUS, and Disk Drill. These tools are designed to recover lost data from a corrupt Excel file. Steps to use a data recovery tool to repair the file include:

  1. Download and install the data recovery tool on your computer
  2. Launch the application and select the corrupt Excel file
  3. Click on the “Repair” button to recover the lost data
  4. When the process is complete, save the repaired Excel file to a location on your computer

If the data recovery tool is unable to repair the file, it may need to be sent to trained professionals with the technical expertise to fix it manually.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q: Can I recover an unsaved Excel file?

A: Depending on the settings on your computer’s Excel application, unsaved files can be automatically saved every few minutes. To recover an unsaved Excel file, follow these steps:

  1. Open Excel
  2. Click “File” and select “Open”
  3. Click on the “Recent” list and locate the unsaved file
  4. Select the file and click on the “Recover Unsaved Workbooks” button
  5. Save the file to avoid losing data in the future

Q: How can I convert an Excel file to a PDF?

A: To convert an Excel file to a PDF, you need to use the “Save As” feature in the Excel application:

  1. Open the Excel document you want to save as a PDF
  2. Click on “File” and select “Save As”
  3. Select “PDF (*.pdf)” as the file type
  4. Choose a location and enter a file name for the PDF document
  5. Click “Save”


Microsoft Excel is a widely used data management tool, but it can encounter problems just like any other software. This article has covered some of the most common problems users face when opening Excel files and ways to troubleshoot them. The most important thing to remember is to maintain backups of your important files regularly. This can help prevent the frustration of losing data due to file corruption or other issues.