Excel or Word won’t open? How to open old Microsoft Office files

Contents
  1. What if Word or Excel opens blank (or not at all)?
  2. File lock settings
  3. Repair Corrupted File
  4. Reset file associations
  5. MS Office Repair

What if Word or Excel opens blank (or not at all)?

Even with changes in Office versions and file formats, you can still open and work with older files in Microsoft Word and Excel. However, if Word or Excel does not open or opens a blank file, you may need to change or repair settings.

The instructions in this article apply to versions of Microsoft Word and Excel 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, and Word or Excel for Office 365.

File lock settings

If you have certain file blocking options enabled, you will not be able to open or edit older MS Office files. Checking these settings and changing them if necessary may solve your problems.

If in settings File Lock option selected Open the program blocks the file type and prevents it from opening (or opens it in protected mode).

  1. Click File

  2. Click parameters: † A window will open Word options or Excel options

  3. Click Security Control Center on the left panel.

  4. Click Trust Center Settings † A window will open Security Control Center

  5. Click File lock settings on the left panel.

  6. Make sure the file type you want to open is not selected in the column Open

  7. Click the selected check boxes to clear them.

  8. Click Okay to apply the changes.

  9. Close the windows to return to Word or Excel and try opening the file.

Repair Corrupted File

If the file is damaged, you cannot open it in Excel or Word. Using the Open and Repair tool can solve this problem.

  1. Open excel or Word (depending on the program in which you cannot open the file).

  2. Select File Open

  3. Navigate to the location where the corrupted file is stored. Click once on the file name.

  4. Click the drop-down arrow next to Open.

  5. Click Open and Restore

Reset file associations

If the default file association for Word or Excel files has been changed, the program may not open properly when you try to open the file. Resetting these file associations can be a simple solution. The settings needed to make these changes can be found in Windows.

  1. Enter Control panel in the Windows search box.

  2. Click Control panel in the search results list. The control panel window opens.

  3. Make sure to view the control panel in the category view and click programs.

  4. Click Default programs.

  5. Click Set default programs. A window will open Institutions with selected standard applications

  6. Click Set application defaults † A list of programs opens.

  7. Scroll down to Word or excel and select it.

  8. Click Check

  9. Select a file type that is not associated with any MS Office program and select the program you want to use to open that type of file.

MS Office Repair

In some cases, Word or Excel won’t open because of a problem with the program itself. Restoring the program may be the best solution.

  1. Enter Control panel in the Windows search box.

  2. Click Control panel in the search results list. A window will open Control panel

  3. Make sure you are browsing Control panel in section View by category and press programs.

  4. Click Remove the program. A window will open Uninstall or change a program

  5. Click your version of Microsoft Office in the list of programs.

  6. Click Change

  7. Select Online repair and press To recover.

  8. Restart your computer after the recovery process is complete.

  9. Double-click the Office file you want to open.

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