XLS File Is Not Opening in Excel

Summary: In this post, we have discussed the reasons why the XLS file may not open in MS Excel in Windows. Also, solutions to fix this problem and open the XLS files in any version of MS Excel through various workarounds.

XLS is an Excel file format for MS Excel 97-2003, which was later replaced by XLSX format in MS Excel 2007. But you can still open and access an XLS file in MS Excel 2007 and later versions. However, sometimes you may experience trouble accessing an XLS workbook on Windows and it may not open.

This usually occurs after installation of Windows or MS Office updates. But it may also occur due to the following reasons,

  1. Excel file is corrupt or damaged
  2. XLS file you trying to access is blocked
  3. Virus or malware-infected the Excel file
  4. File compatibility issue
  5. Damage MS Office program files

If the XLS file is damaged, the below mentioned manual methods won’t work. In that case, you need an Excel file repair software to fix the XLS file corruption and access the data. We have discussed this in Method 7.

Methods to Fix XLS File and Open it in MS Excel

There are a few methods and workarounds that may help you open the XLS file in MS Excel without any trouble. So, follow them in the given sequence.

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Methods to Open XLS Files in MS Excel 2016

Follow these methods in the given order of sequence to resolve ‘Excel 2016 won’t open XLS files’ issue and open the XLS files in Excel 2016.

Method 1: Open XLS File via MS Excel

Instead of opening the XLS file directly by using double-click, you can try to open the XLS file from Excel “File” menu. The steps are as follows,

  • Go to File>Open>Browse
  • Then navigate to the location where XLS file is located
  • Click on the XLS file and then click ‘Open’.

In case the XLS file doesn’t open, follow the next method.

Method 2: Choose Excel.exe as Default App for XLS Files

If the file doesn’t open with a double-click or from Excel program, you can try to assign the Excel.exe as default app manually by following these steps,

  1. On your PC, navigate to the XLS file location and right-click on the file
  2. From the options, choose Open with and then click on Choose another app>More Apps>Look for another app on this PC
  3. Now navigate to the program file location. The default location is usually C: Program Files (x86) > Microsoft Office > root > Office 16 > EXCEL.EXE
  4. Click on EXCEL.EXE file and then click on ‘Open’

Your Excel file should open up right away.

Method 3: Unblock XLS File

XLS file may be blocked by the system, which could be a reason why the XLS file is not opening in Excel. This problem is caused by MS Office update and can be resolved by following these steps,

  • Right-click on the XLS file and choose Properties
  • Click on the checkbox below ‘Advanced’ button to enable Unblock option
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Xls properties

  • Click Apply and then ‘OK’

Now try to open the file. It should open successfully without any errors.

Method 4: Change Microsoft Trust Center Settings

Trust Center keeps the system secure from Office files downloaded or transferred from an unknown source or untrusted platform. Thus, by changing certain settings in the Trust Center, you may fix the problem and open the XLS file successfully.

The steps are as follows,

  • OpenMicrosoft Excel and go to File>Options
  • Click on Trust Centerand then click on Trust Center Settings

Trust Center Setting

  • Click on Protected viewon the left and uncheck all the options available under the Protected View options
  • Click OK and then restartMS Excel


After the restart, try to open the XLS workbook.

Method 5: Convert XLS file to XLSX

You may try to convert the XLS file to XLSX format, if you see a blank XLS file after opening. However, after conversion, the layout of the spreadsheet is changed and you can’t go back to XLS format once the file is converted. However, there is a safer way to do it.

  1. Back up the XLS file and then open the XLS file
  2. Go to File >Info and click ‘Convert’ button

convert file

  1. Click Convert and then click OK, when prompted

This will convert the XLS file to XLSX format that you can open in any Excel version without any problem.

Method 6: Reinstall or Repair MS Office

When nothing works, you can try to repair the MS Excel program as there could be an issue with the MS Office installation. To repair MS Office, follow these steps,

  1. Go to Control Panel> Programs and click Uninstall a programunder Programs and Features
  2. Choose Microsoft Office and click Change
  3. Then click on Repair and continue with the repair wizard
  4. After repair, close the window and double-click on the XLS file that you want to open
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You may further try to reinstall the MS Office app to try and fix the issue.

Method 7: Repair and Save Excel Workbooks with Stellar Repair for Excel

When all method fails and you can’t open the XLS file, it’s probably corrupted. You can fix XLS/XLSX Excel file corruption by using Stellar Repair for Excel software.

This Excel file repair software can fix corruption at any level and save the XLS spreadsheet data in a new XLS file that you can easily open in MS Excel. The software preserves spreadsheet properties such as gridlines, cell formatting, formula bar, etc. after fixing the XLS file corruption.

All you need to do is select the XLS file, click on ‘Repair’ and then save it.

It supports MS Excel 2000 and later versions, including the latest MS Excel 2019. Also, you can repair either single or multiple XLS/XLSX files at once.


XLS is a legacy Excel file format that may fail to open in the latest MS Excel app. However, you can follow the methods discussed in this post to fix this problem and open the Excel file. But if you cannot open the XLS Excel file even after trying all the solutions, it’s probably corrupted.  This can be resolved by using the Excel recovery tool such as Stellar Repair for Excel.

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