Cannot Double-Click to Open a Workbook

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 30, 2016)


Frank was having a problem with Excel not opening a workbook whenever he would double-click on it in Windows. Excel would start, but the workbook would not load, and Excel would report that it couldn't find the file that was double-clicked.

This sounds like a problem with the file associations in Windows. The first thing to try is to force Excel to reconstruct all the proper association information. You do that by following these steps:

  1. Make sure that Excel is not running (exit the program).
  2. Click the Start button to displays the Start menu.
  3. From the Start menu, choose Run. Windows displays the Run dialog box.
  4. In the Open box, enter the full path name to your Excel program, followed by the /regserver switch. If the full path name includes spaces, surround the full path name by quote marks. The following is an example of what you can enter in the Open box (your path may be different):
  5.      "c:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office\Excel.exe" /regserver
  6. Click OK.

Now try double-clicking on your workbook again. It should open as you expect. If it doesn't, try this:

  1. In Excel, choose Options from the Tools menu. Excel displays the Options dialog box.
  2. Make sure the General tab is selected. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The General tab of the Options dialog box.

  4. Make sure the Ignore Other Applications check box is selected.
  5. Click on OK.

If you still cannot double-click on a workbook to open it, try these steps:

  1. Get out of Excel completely.
  2. Open a My Computer window.
  3. Choose Tool | Folder Options. You should see the Folder Options dialog box.
  4. Make sure the File Types tab is displayed.
  5. In the list of registered file types, find and select the entry for XLS (Microsoft Excel Worksheet).
  6. Depending on your version of Windows, click on either the Edit or the Advanced button. You should see the Edit File Type dialog box.
  7. In the list of actions, choose Open.
  8. Click the Edit button. Windows displays the Editing Action dialog box.
  9. The Application Used to Perform Action box contains the actual command line used to start Word. Double-check the line to make sure there are no strange extra filenames at the end of the command line.
  10. Make sure the Use DDE check box is selected, and that the DDE Message box is set to the following:
  11.      [open("%1")]
  12. Click on OK.
  13. Close all the other open dialog boxes.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2949) 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. ...


Superscripted Registered Trademark Symbol

Word, by default, includes an AutoCorrect entry that converts (r) to a registered trademark symbol. The problem is, the ...

Discover More

Controlling the Display of Chart Axes in Microsoft Graph

When you create a chart in Microsoft Graph, you might now want to see one or both of the axes included by default. Here's ...

Discover More

Using Copy and Paste for Formatting

Want to copy formatting from one cell and paste it into another cell? It's easy to do if you use the Paste Special ...

Discover More

Program Successfully in Excel! John Walkenbach's name is synonymous with excellence in deciphering complex technical topics. With this comprehensive guide, "Mr. Spreadsheet" shows how to maximize your Excel experience using professional spreadsheet application development tips from his own personal bookshelf. Check out Excel 2013 Power Programming with VBA today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Saving All Open Workbooks

Wouldn't it be nice to have a single command that would save each of you open workbooks, all at once? It's easy to do ...

Discover More

Error Opening Second Workbook

If you try to open a second workbook and you see an error message, it could be because of the way you are opening the ...

Discover More

Odd Behavior when Opening a Shared File with a Shortcut

Tracking down a problem that occurs with a single workbook can be vexing. One such problem occurred with Chris, and these ...

Discover More

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

View most recent newsletter.


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 5 + 9?

2018-01-11 08:25:55


For me, antivirus was making the problem (ESET). After I disabled documents protection in antivirus, Excel started to open files on doubleclick. With clicked ON "Ignore other applications..."

2017-02-11 11:44:35


These instructions don't work for Windows 10, can you add them for Windows 10?

2016-10-30 15:25:20


I have a similar problem and have tried all of the above with no success. When I look at the default file associations for Excel, the XLSX file type is associated with Internet Explorer instead of Excel. Is there anyway to correct that?


2016-07-18 04:27:55

Clarity Auto Detailing

it worked for me with the "ignore other applications" unchecked.
Thanks from Indonesia

2016-03-29 03:20:11

partha p borah

it really helps me in some helpless situation,,thanks google and Allen Wyatt

2015-12-04 14:48:25

Fennie Lau

i can't open my excel file, reason from computer servicing said my file is too big. How can i re open my file? it's urgent for my.

thank you.


2015-08-13 16:13:44


The second recommendation worked for me, thank you very much!

2015-01-28 03:58:55


As CK Chandru said above, it worked for me by UNCHECKING the "ignore other applications" box in the Excel Settings.

2014-12-29 20:49:46

Rod Clift

I tried what Alex Hatzo tried and it worked perfectly for Excel 2013/ Office 365. Thanks!

2014-12-28 16:58:50


the Control Panel/Programme and Features/Microsoft Office 365/Change/Quick Repair fix worked for me - many thanks

2014-12-05 09:13:18

Mark Anderson

I work at a big corporation. The Help Desk fixed this for me. But it only lasted a week, and now it's bad again.

Someone else said they fixed it using Chandru's method above of unchecking that box. But her fix only lasted a week too.

I have now used the Quick Repair method of Alex. That works. But who knows how long it will last.

By the way I couldn't use your first fix above, because I don't know how to find the regserver. Is this something that everyone should know?

2014-06-23 13:03:30

CK Chandru

The solution you provided worked,ie, the 1st option in combination with the second.
Only in my case I had to UNCHECK the "ïgnore other applications"option.
Thank you! From India

2014-06-22 12:59:26

Alex Hatzo

I was able to fix the problem of not being able to open Excel 2013 files when double ckicking by going to Control Panel, Program and Features, selecting Microsoft Office 365, selecting Change and then Quick Repair. It does take a few minutes to complete but it worked!

2014-05-30 11:55:58


Your first instructions worked for me. This was such an easy fix. I have tried several much more complicated things offered by Microsoft, and none of them worked. Thank you so much!

2013-06-12 23:22:51


The second recommendation worked for me, thank you!

This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips

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.