Opening Non-Excel Files

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 4, 2017)

Excel includes a built-in file filtering system that allows you to open many other types of files automatically. For instance, you may be able to open files originally created in a different spreadsheet program, such as 1-2-3 or Quattro Pro. Notice that I said you "may be able" to do this. The fuzziness here is because your particular installation of Excel may not allow you to load such files. Exactly which filters were installed depends on which options were chosen during installation.

When you attempt to open a file other than a native Excel file, the program attempts to do a conversion to the Excel format. If a conversion is not possible, an error results and you are notified. If Excel needs additional information to do the conversion, you are presented with a series of dialog boxes that allow you to specify the parameters Excel will use when converting information. (This most often occurs when you attempt to load text files.)

The best way to see if Excel will open a particular file is simply to try it. If there is a problem, you can then check the Excel Setup program to see if there is a filter which you can load from your program CD. You can also check Microsoft's Web site ( to see if they have a particular filter you may need.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2002) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

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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