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Fix Error ‘Excel Cannot Open the File Because the Extension Is Not Valid’

Many times, while trying to open an older version of an Excel file in a newer version, you may come across the “Excel cannot open the file because the extension is not valid” error. Whenever it occurs, the following error message appears on your screen:

“Excel cannot open the file filename.xlsx because the file format or file extension is not valid. Verify that the file has not been corrupted and that the file extension matches the format of the file.”

You might be looking for the reasons that bring forth this issue. Well, it mainly takes place when you by mistake rename the file with a different file format or an incorrect file extension. Another reason is that your file would have become unreadable or corrupted. And thus, you must resolve this at the earliest. To help you with that, we have listed all the effective methods that can help you regain access to your Excel file data.

How to Fix ‘Excel Cannot Open the File Because the Extension Is Not Valid’ Error?

Here, we have listed some of troubleshooting methods by following which you would be able to fix Excel cannot open the file because the extension is not valid error:

Method 1: Change the Default File Format

The Excel file is saved in .xlsx or .xls file format. At times, while trying to open the file with a different or incorrect extension, it may result in the ‘Excel cannot open the file because the extension is not valid’ error. You can resolve this issue by changing the Excel default file format. For doing so, you must proceed with the below-given steps:

Note: Make sure to create a backup of the Excel file that you aren’t able to open and try implementing the below-listed steps on the backup copy.

  • Go to the File menu if using Excel 2010 and newer versions. However, click on the Office option for Excel 2007 and earlier versions.
  • Further, click on Options in the Info screen that opens up. 
  • From the Excel Options window, go to the Save workbooks section and click on the Save files in this file format: drop-down. 
  • Further, select a suitable file format (i.e., the one supported by your Excel version) and click OK.
  • At last, try to open your Excel file and if you fail to do, move to the next method.

Method 2: Edit the Excel File Permissions

Insufficient permission to open the file can also result in Excel file format or file extension is not valid error. It mainly occurs while you try opening an Excel file that was received from some other user. Therefore, you must change the file permissions and for doing so, you can follow the below-given steps:

  • Right-click on the file that isn’t opening and click on Properties.
  • From there, go to the Security tab and click on Edit.
  • It will open up the file’s permissions dialog box, there. click on Add.
  • It will open up the Select Users or Groups window, and from there click on the Advanced button.
  • Further, click on Find Now. It will display the list of all users and groups in a search results box. From there, choose Everyone group and click OK.
  • The ‘Everyone’ group will be displayed in the ‘Enter the object names to select’ textbox. Again, click on OK to go back to the file’s permission dialog box.
  • After that, click Everyone from the Group or user names: box and mark all the checkboxes under Allow column.
  • At last, click on Apply> OK.

Once you have followed the above steps, you can try opening the Excel file. If you fail to open the Excel file, you can jump to the next method.

Method 3: Recover Unsaved Workbook

You may proceed with the below-listed troubleshooting steps if you come across the Excel file extension not valid error while trying to open an unsaved workbook:

  • In Excel, go to the File menu. 
  • From there, go to the Info screen and click on Recover Unsaved Workbooks under the Manage Versions section.
  • Once done, Excel will list all your unsaved files. 
  • Further, you can try opening the file and save it. If this doesn’t work, try following the next solution.

Method 4: Repair the Workbook

There might be a possibility that none of the listed solutions would have worked for you. Well, the reason behind this can be corruption in the Excel file. In that case, you can try to repair the corrupted file by using the Excel inbuilt ‘Open and Repair’ utility. Following the below-mentioned steps will help you in doing so:

  • Open the Excel application and from there, go to the File menu followed by Open.
  • Then, select the Excel file you want to repair from the ‘Open’ dialog box that appears on your screen,
  • Further, click on the arrow next to the Open option.
  • Moving ahead, select Open and Repair option from the dropdown list.
  • Now, Excel will either ask you to either repair the file or extract data from it. Make sure to click on Repair to retrieve maximum data. 
  • If due to any reasons, the Repair option fails to work, click on Extract Data to recover the data without formulas and values.

It can happen that the ‘Open and Repair’ utility doesn’t work to help you fix the corrupted file and/or recover the data. If that’s so, you can try to use an Excel repair software. Stellar Repair for Excel is one software that can help you regain access to your file and its data.  

Why Must You Choose Stellar Repair For Excel Software?

There are numerous powerful algorithms that Excel repair software from Stellar uses to repair corrupt/damaged Excel files. What it does is, restore the entire information in a new Excel spreadsheet. You might be thinking, why this? Stellar Repair for Excel software can help repair severely corrupted XLS and XLSX files. Also, it helps recover all the file components, including tables, pivot tables, cell comments, charts, chart sheets, images, formulas, etc., without impacting the original structure of the Excel file. Well, here we have listed some of the key advantages of the Excel repair software:

  • It helps you recover filters, cell comments, sorts, tables, images, formulas, charts etc.
  • You may secure the worksheet properties inclusive of formula bar, freeze panes, gridlines, split and cell formatting.
  • The software simultaneously repairs single and multiple XLS/XLSX files.
  • The Excel repair software is compatible with the following MS Excel versions 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, 2007, 2003, and 2000.

Here’s How Excel File Repair Software Works:

The presence of an interactive GUI in the Stellar Repair for Excel makes the repair and recovery process smooth. All one needs to follow is a simple 3 step approach i.e., select-scan-repair to repair your data in no time. Moreover, below we have listed the detailed steps to repair damaged Excel spreadsheets:

  • At first, you have to download, install and then, open the Stellar Repair for Excel from its official website.
  • Navigate to the software’s home screen and from there, browse to select the corrupt Excel file (XLS/XLSX). 
  • Further, click on the Search option if you aren’t aware of the location.
  • Click on Repair when you have selected the file. It will begin the scanning process.
  • Once scanned, it will display the recovered items in a tree-view on the software’s left-hand panel. 
  • Double-click on the recovered items to preview them.
  • If the file preview is as per your expectations, then, click on the ‘Save File’ option.
  • When prompted, select the location where you want to save the file and then, click OK.

Closing Thoughts As discussed, the error ‘Excel cannot open the file because the extension is not valid’ takes place whenever you try to open a workbook that has a different file format or an incorrect file extension. Another reason is corruption in the Excel file. To help you resolve this issue without much trouble, we have listed all the possible effective troubleshooting solutions above. Well, there might come a situation where none of these solutions work. In that case, what you may do is try to repair the Excel file and retrieve its data using the Stellar Data Recovery software.

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