Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 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 Microsoft 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. ...

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What is one minus 1?

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.


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