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What is an XLS File?

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Question: What is an XLS File?

Did you find an XLS file on your computer and wonder what program should open it? Maybe someone emailed you an XLS file but you're not sure how to use it. Perhaps you tried to open the XLS file but Windows told you that it could not open it.

Before you can open an XLS file (assuming it's even a file format that's intended to be viewed or edited), you'll need to determine what kind of file the .XLS file extension refers to.

Answer: A file with the XLS file extension is a Microsoft Excel 97-2003 Worksheet file.

Other types of files may also use the XLS file extension. If you know of any additional file formats that use the .XLS extension, please let me know so I can update this information.

How To Open an XLS File:

The easiest way to open an XLS file is to double-click on it and let your PC decide which default application should open the file. If no program opens the XLS file then you probably don't have an application installed that can view and/or edit XLS files.

Warning: Take great care when opening executable file formats received via email or downloaded from websites you're not familiar with. See my List of Executable File Extensions for a listing of file extensions to avoid and why.

XLS files can be opened with Microsoft Excel (any version) as well as other popular spreadsheet programs. Several free spreadsheet programs can be used to open XLS files, like those from this list of Free Microsoft Office Alternatives.

If you know anything else useful about XLS files, please let me know so I can update this page.

Tip: Use Notepad or another text editor to open the XLS file. Many files are text-only files meaning no matter the file extension, a text editor may be able to properly display the file's contents. This isn't the case with MS Excel XLS files but if you think yours might be an XLS file of a different format, this is worth a try.

If you find that an application on your PC does try to open the XLS file but it's the wrong application or if you would rather have another installed program open XLS files, see my How To Change the Default Program for a Specific File Extension guide for making that change in Windows.

How To Convert an XLS File:

There are two main ways to attempt to convert an XLS file to another file type:

The first option involving opening the XLS file in its native program is preferable because it's both easier and will probably result in a more accurate file conversion. Of course if you don't have a program that opens XLS files, a third-party file conversion tool (the second option) could be very useful.

Important: You cannot usually change a file extension (like the XLS file extension) to one that your computer recognizes and expect the newly renamed file to be usable. An actual file format conversion using one of the methods described above must take place in most cases.

Still Having Problems Opening or Using an XLS File?

See Get More Help for information about contacting me on social networks or via email, posting on tech support forums, and more. Let me know what kinds of problems you're having with opening or using the XLS file and I'll see what I can do to help.

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