Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Using Your Own File Extensions.

Using Your Own File Extensions

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 7, 2017)

By default, Excel uses an XLS extension for all workbook files. If you don't want to use the default file extension for a workbook you are saving, you can pick something different. (You may want to use a different extension if you are trying to hide the fact that the file is an Excel workbook.)

If you try to use a different file name extension by including it when you save the file, Excel still appends the XLS extension. For instance, if you explicitly save a file as MyFile.mef, Excel will still save it as MyFile.mef.xls.

If you don't want Excel to do this, then simply enclose your file name in quotes when you save under a new name. Thus, you would use the name "MyFile.mef" (with the quotes) and that is the file name which Excel will use.

In addition, if you save a workbook with a different extension (not one of the defaults used by Excel), then Excel won't show the workbook by default when you use the Open command. To see all your varied-extension files, you need to follow these steps:

  1. Displays the Open dialog box.
  2. In the File Name field, enter an asterisk, period, and your desired extension. For instance, you could enter "*.mef" (without the quotes).
  3. Press Enter. The desired files should be listed in the directory.
  4. Select the file you want to open.
  5. Click on Open.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2228) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Using Your Own File Extensions.

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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