Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. 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 June 20, 2016)

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.

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, and 2013. 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. ...

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What is one minus 1?

2016-06-20 14:23:54

David Gray

While useful to a certain degree, this article would be much better if it also covered some of the other quasi-native formats, such as XLSB, XLA, XLAM, and the various Open Document formats.


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