[How To] Save All MS Excel Files As XLS Instead Of XLSX

by Rohit Khurana on August 3, 2012


If you are using Microsoft Excel 2007 onwards, you must have noticed that the excel files saved on your computer using the Microsoft Office Excel are in .xlsx format. This is a new file extension to support new features. With new features added with the new format of excel files, there comes one major problem of backward compatibility. For example, my accountant has on old Windows PC with Microsoft Office 2003 software installed on it. Whenever I send him any excel file saved using Microsoft Excel 2010 installed on my computer, he can not open the file on his Windows PC.

Although there is an official fix for this by Microsoft called the MS office compatibility pack which can be installed on computers with older MS office version and it allows them to read the new format of files including xlsx, docs pptx etc. but not all are aware of it and get annoyed when they find an excel file not opening on their computer. In this article, I will share a very easy to follow tip which you can use to save all new MS Excel files in the old xls format by default even with the new version of MS office.

How To Save All Excel Files In XLS Format By Default

Simply follow these steps:

Step1:  Open MS Office Excel software and browse to File > Options.


MS Office Options

Step2: On the MS Excel options Window, click on Save tab on the left hand pane and click on the small arrow for the dropdown option in front of Save files in this format:

Select Excel 97-2003 Workbook .xls format

Step 3: From the drop down options, select the option Excel 79-2003 Workbook (*.xls) and click ok at the bottom of Excel options Window.

This is it, isn’t it much simpler than you thought. Check out some more Microsoft Office Tips by Trouble Fixers.

NOTE: The new format xlsx has some additional features which maybe lost when you convert the files to the older xls format. If you want to keep the new format, in that case we suggest you to install office compatibility pack on the computer with old MS office installation and continue using the default xlsx format on the new computer.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ajay August 3, 2012 at 3:04 pm


As you mentioned above, there are quite a few features lost when you save as 2003 format. Additionally, some useful functions like SUMIFS or AVERAGEIF are not available for 2003 which were added in later versions.

Lastly, file size is also an issue, xls files are much bigger than xlsx files

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