How to Recover Damaged Excel Workbooks

Spreadsheets and graphs on a desk

It’s often a user’s worst nightmare to find that an important workbook suddenly won’t open, mostly due to the fact that such files are irretrievably corrupted, but there are a few steps you can take before you decide to start over from scratch with your spreadsheet. 

Excel generally launches File Recovery mode when a workbook cannot be opened cleanly. This consists of the prompt shown in step 4 of Figure 1. However, you can also manually launch File Recovery Mode for any spreadsheet that you wish, as shown in Figure 1:

  1. Click once on the affected file within Excel’s Open dialog box.
  2. Click the arrow at the right-hand side of the Open button to display a menu.
  3. Choose Open and Repair.
  4. Choose Repair.

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About David Ringstrom, CPA

David Ringstrom

David H. Ringstrom, CPA, is an author and nationally recognized instructor who teaches scores of webinars each year. His Excel courses are based on over 25 years of consulting and teaching experience. His mantra is “Either you work Excel, or it works you.” David offers spreadsheet and database consulting services nationwide.


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