Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: How Excel Treats Disk Files.

How Excel Treats Disk Files

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 18, 2019)

1

Over the years Excel has used several different file extensions to denote that the file is, indeed, native to Excel:

  • XLS. An Excel 97 through Excel 2003 workbook file.
  • XLSX. An Excel 2007 (or later) workbook file.
  • XLSM. An Excel 2007 (or later) workbook file that contains (or can contain) macros.
  • XLSB. An Excel file that is saved as binary workbook instead of .XLSX to reduce the size of the file.
  • XLAM. An Excel file that is an Excel Add-in.
  • XLA. Another Excel file that is an Excel Add-in.

If you use the Open dialog box to open any type of file besides these three, Excel will dutifully attempt to translate the information in that file into a meaningful format. For instance, if you attempt to open a file that contains nothing but text, Excel will read the information and place it in an otherwise blank workbook.

Excel can read files created by several other types of programs. The types of files you can open depend on your version of Excel. If there is any confusion as to how Excel should translate the file, it will ask you to select the type of translation to use.

When you load a file created by another program into Excel, you should understand that you might lose some formatting that is unique to that particular program. Rest assured, however, that Excel will do its absolute best to faithfully translate and load the file as you requested.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (12743) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: How Excel Treats Disk Files.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Comparing Documents Top and Bottom

Word has a feature that allows you to compare two documents side-by-side. What if you actually want to compare the ...

Discover More

Conditional Formatting in PivotTables

Conditional formatting is very powerful, and you can use it to dynamically adjust how your data looks. Excel allows you ...

Discover More

Date for Next Wednesday

When working with dates, it is often helpful to be able to calculate some date in the future based on a starting date. ...

Discover More

Comprehensive VBA Guide Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is the language used for writing macros in all Office programs. This complete guide shows both professionals and novices how to master VBA in order to customize the entire Office suite for their needs. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2010 today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Saving in Two Locations

When you save a workbook to disk, you may want to automatically save a duplicate workbook in a separate location. This ...

Discover More

Faster Text File Conversions

Want to make your importing of text data faster than ever? Here are some ideas you can apply right away.

Discover More

CSV File Opens with Data in a Single Column

When you import a CSV file into an Excel worksheet, you may be surprised at how the program allocates the information ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is four more than 9?

2019-05-19 12:36:14

Willy Vanhaelen

For • XLSB: "...instead of XLSX ..." should be "... instead of XLSM ..." since XLSB files can also contain macros.


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.