Troubleshoot | Windows Computer Won’t Open Excel Files

Windows computer won’t open Excel files! There’re seven efficient methods to solve this problem. This article also lists practical suggestions for you to prevent data loss.


By Penny / Updated on April 2, 2024

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Why won’t my computer open Excel files?

Data analysts often use Microsoft Excel programs to organize and calculate data, which improves efficiency greatly. But have you ever failed to open your Excel files when you are managing data?


Help! I can’t open Excel files on my Windows 10 PC. So do I open an Excel file that won’t open? Any suggestions will be appreciated. 

Let’s get an overview of the possible causes below.

✍Mismatched file extensions: Excel has two different file formats (XLS & XLSX). And these two formats are not directly compatible with each other.

✍Problematic add-ins: Prevent users from opening their Excel programs.

✍Broken file association: Undeniably, broken file associations can cause Excel files not to open. Some users also reported that their files on desktops were not opening.


✍Outdated/corrupted Microsoft Office program: If you keep using an older MS version instead of the latest version, your files are likely to be incompatible with the newer version.

✍Corrupted Excel files: If your desired document becomes corrupted, it’s not surprising that you cannot open them.

Seven ways to fix your Windows computer won’t open Excel files

When it comes to problems regarding how to fix your computer won’t open Excel files, there’re seven feasible methods for your reference.  

Fix 1. Change wrong file extensions

As stated earlier, both XLS and XLSX are extensions of Excel programs. XLS was still in use in 2003. After that, XML and XLSX became the new file extensions. If you can’t open Excel files, try to switch from XLSX to XLS or vice versa.


Fix 2. Uncheck the ignore Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE) box

The Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE) settings determine how Excel application interacts with other programs. If this setting has been activated before, you can’t open Excel files.

At the moment, you’re supposed to uncheck the ignore DEE box via the following steps.

Step 1. After starting your Excel program, click the “File” button.


Step 2. Click Options > Advanced > General.

Step 3. Uncheck the “Ignore other applications that use Dynamic Data Exchange” box. Then click “OK” to save these changes.


Fix 3. Disable COM Add-ins

"Help! My Windows computer won’t open Excel files!" Several users have complained that they can't open Excel files on Windows 10. If you're bothered by the same problem, add-ins might be the case.

Some add-ins such as Excel add-ins and COM add-ins can prevent you from opening and accessing files. Please refer to the following steps to disable them. After that, you may open your Excel files. 

Step 1. Open one new Excel file and click File > Options > Add-ins on the left.

Step 2. Click “Manage” and select the “COM Add-ins” option. Then hit Go.


Step 3. Select “disable all add-ins” in the mean.

Fix 4. Reset Excel file associations

The file association is what enables your Excel files to open smoothly. It instructs your Excel program to open your selected document. But sometimes, its file association fails and refuses to open Excel files. To address this issue, please refer to the following steps to reset the file associations of Excel to default settings.  

Step 1. Type “Control Panel” in the search bar and open it. Then go to Programs.


Step 2. Select the “Default Programs” option.


Step 3. Select the “Set your default programs” option.


Step 4. After entering the Default apps interface, click the “Set default by apps” button.


Step 5. Locate your Excel program and click the “Manage” button.


Step 6. Select the file that won’t open and set its default app as Excel.


Fix 5. Repair Microsoft Office programs

However, if the above solutions are useless, perhaps there’s something wrong with your Microsoft Office program. "So how do I repair Microsoft Programs?" Please be calm and here comes another practical method. Besides, this fix also can address the Windows Explorer word double click not opening.  

Step 1. Type “Control Panel” in the search bar and open it. Then go to Programs.


Step 2. Select the “Programs and Features” option and locate your malfunctioning Microsoft Office Excel program. Then right-click on it > Change.


Step 3. Select “Quick Repair” and click the “Repair” button.

Fix 6. Recover corrupted Excel files via in-built features

In some cases, the reason why you can’t open Excel files is that they’ve been damaged. If it happens to be your case, you can recover corrupted Excel files via built-in features.

Step 1. Open your Microsoft Excel application. Then click Open Other Workbooks > Computer/This PC > Browse.


Step 2. Locate the damaged Excel file you want to repair.

Step 3. Click “Open” and select the “Open and Repair” option.


Step 4. After that, you can click “Repair” to salvage data as much as possible. Likewise, you can also extract values and formulas from your damaged Excel file by selecting the “Extract Data” option.

Fix 7. Recover deleted/lost Excel files with document recovery software

Opening an Excel document is the first step. Because if you can’t open Excel files, it’ll be meaningless for you to recover deleted/missing Excel files.

After opening the Excel application, how do I recover a deleted Excel file that is not in the Recycle Bin? For those users without backups, only professional data recovery tools can save you from necessary backups and recover files as many as possible.

One of the best document data recovery software, MyRecover has attracted many users due to its powerful features, easy-to-follow operating steps, good compatibility, etc.   

Powerful features: Recover deleted & lost MS Office files, folders, compressed files, photos, songs, videos, audio, websites, and hundreds of file types from HDD, USB, SD cards, etc.
Easy-to-find: During Quick Scan and Deep Scan, you can search your desired files by Path, Filename, Date, etc.
Convenient: Retain the original Path, Filename, and Format for the deleted files.   
Excellent compatibility: Support NTFS, FAT32, exFAT, and ReFS file systems.

Please download MyRecover on your Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, or Windows Server PC!

Download Software Windows 11/10/8/7/Server
Secure Download

Step 1. After launching MyRecover. Hover the mouse over the drive saved deleted Excel files before, and click Scan.


Step 2. You can quickly locate your desired Excel files according to Name, Path, Date, or Type or wait to view all the deleted & lost files after the scanning process.

  • Name: Type the filenames of your desired files to narrow the search area.
  • Date modified: Set the date (today, yesterday, last 7/30 days, and so on) according to your situation.
  • Size: Filter the file size (<128KB, 128KB~1MB, 1MB~ 512MB, etc) based on your needs.


Step 3. Go to the Deleted Files/Recycle Bin/Other Missing Files folder and select your wanted Excel documents. Then click the “Recover x files” button.


After document recovery, please save retrieved Excel files in a new path instead of the original drive.
MyRecover enables you to recover 500MB of files for free. To easily recover a large number of deleted and missing files from your internal or external hard drives, please consider upgrading MyRecover to the Professional or Technician edition.   

In the end

Windows computer won’t open Excel files? You can figure out the possible reasons and get related fixes to address this problem.

For deleted/missing Excel files, the sooner you begin data recovery via MyRecover, the higher your chances you’ll be. Moreover, it’s time for you to make file backups via this free backup software for Windows, AOMEI Backupper.

Penny · Editor
Penny works as an editor at AOMEI Technology, while she's a tester and editor for AOMEI Data Recovery Tools. She enjoys helping users with data recovery issues on Windows and iPhones using simple and practical solutions. Outside of work, she has a strong affection for pets, particularly giant pandas.