Are you unable to open and view an Excel workbook due to Excel found unreadable content error on Windows PC? Some Microsoft Office users have reported that they can’t open their workbooks in Microsoft Excel due to this error. Following is the full error message that is received:
Excel found unreadable content in <spreadsheet-name>. Do you want to recover the contents of this document? If you trust the source of this document, click Yes.
This error can be triggered with different Excel file formats including XLS, XLSX, XLSM, etc. Now, what causes this error and how you can fix it, we will discuss that in this post.
What causes unreadable content in Excel?
The “Excel found unreadable content” error while opening an Excel spreadsheet is likely to be caused if the file is corrupted. There might be some corruption in the content of the file which is triggering the error and making you unable to open the Excel file. Besides that, missing administrator rights to run Excel can be another reason for the same error. If your Excel file is blocked, you might face this error. Apart from the aforementioned reasons, this error can occur due to the missing Visual Basic component (in older Office versions).
Now, if you are also affected by this error and are unable to open and edit a workbook in Microsoft Excel due to this error, we got you covered. In this post, we will be mentioning different working fixes that have helped users to resolve the error. So, let us check them out.
Fix Excel found unreadable content error
If you are experiencing the “Excel found unreadable content” error while opening an Excel file, you can use the following fixes to resolve the error:
- Run Microsoft Excel with administrator rights.
- Use the Open and Repair tool in Excel.
- Move the problematic Excel file to a different location.
- Unblock the Excel file.
- Make the Excel file Read-Only.
- Install the missing Visual Basic component.
- Try a third-party spreadsheet tool to open your Excel file.
1] Run Microsoft Excel with administrator rights
It might be the case that you are facing this error due to insufficient access permissions. In case you have logged into Windows without admin privileges, try opening Microsoft Excel as an administrator and see if the error is fixed. Right-click on the Excel main executable or desktop shortcut and choose the Run as administrator option to open it. Now, try opening the Excel file with which you were facing this error and check if it is resolved. If not, you can use the next fix to get rid of the error.
2] Use the Open and Repair tool in Excel
The “Excel found unreadable content” error could be triggered if your workbook is corrupted. So, if the scenario is applicable, you can simply repair the corrupted Excel file and check if the error is fixed. To do so, you can use Excel’s built-in Open and Repair tool. Here’s how:
- Firstly, click on the File menu and choose the Open option.
- Next, tap on the Browse button and select the problematic Excel workbook.
- After that, click on the small down arrow icon which is present inside the Open button.
- From the appeared options, click on the Open and Repair option and let Excel repair and open your workbook.
See if the workbook opens now without this error or not. If not, you can try some other methods or third-party tools to repair your Excel file. If the error remains the same, you can move on to the next fix.
3] Move the problematic Excel file to a different location
As per some affected users, moving the problematic Excel file to a different folder helped them fix the error. You can also try doing the same and see if the error stops popping up. Use Ctrl+X to cut the file, navigate to a different folder, and press Ctrl+V to paste the file. Then, check if the file opens in Excel or not without this error. If not, try the next fix.
Read: How to Find and Replace Wildcard Characters in Excel
4] Unblock the Excel file
The next thing to make sure of is that the file is not blocked. It might be the case that the file is blocked which is why you are unable to open the file. And thus, the error “Excel found unreadable content” occurs. This issue is likely to occur when you download attachments from emails or download online files. So, if the scenario is applicable, you can open the file’s properties and unblock the file. Here are the steps to do that:
- First, open File Explorer using Win+E, locate the problematic Excel file and right-click on it.
- From the opened context menu, select the Properties option.
- In the Properties window, tick the Unblock checkbox from the General tab.
- Finally, press the Apply > OK button to save changes.
Now, try opening the file in Excel and check if the error is resolved.
5] Make the Excel file Read-Only
You can also try opening the Excel file in Read-only mode and see if the error is fixed. Here’s how to do that:
- First, go to the File menu and click on the Save as option.
- Now, enter a new filename and click on the Tools drop-down arrow button in the Open dialog.
- Next, click on General Options, enable the ‘Read-only recommended’ checkbox, and click the OK button.
- Finally, open the workbook and check if the error is gone.
If the file is opening in the Read-only mode, you can copy the content of the workbook and paste it into a new spreadsheet to edit the content.
Read: We found a problem with some content in xlsx error in Excel
6] Install the missing Visual Basic component
This error could be caused due to missing the Visual Basic component in your Office program. It is applicable to older versions of Microsoft Office (2010/2013). If the scenario applies, you can install the missing Visual Basic component to fix the error.
First, open Run using Win+R and enter appwiz.cpl in it. In the opened Control Panel window, select your Microsoft Office package and click on the Change button. Next, select the Add or Remove Features option and click on the Continue button. Now, under the Office Shared Features category, right-click on Visual Basic for Applications and choose the Run from My Computer option. Once done, press the Continue button and wait for the process to end.
You can now reopen the Excel app and check if you can open your workbooks without the Excel found unreadable content error.
7] Try a third-party spreadsheet tool to open your Excel file
In case you are still unable to open your files in Excel, you can use a third-party spreadsheet program to open and edit your Excel files. There are several free spreadsheet programs that allow you to open and edit XLS, XLSX, and other Excel files. You can use LibreOffice Calc, ONLYOFFICE, Zoho Sheet, Google Sheets, or some other spreadsheet program to check if you can open your workbooks.
Why Excel is showing file is corrupted?
An Excel file can get corrupted because of multiple reasons. One of the common reasons is the system shutdown due to a power outage when the Excel file is opened in the program. Apart from that, your Excel file can be corrupted due to a virus infection on your computer. A virus or malware attack targets your system and personal files making them corrupt. If you have a corrupted Excel file, you can use its inbuilt Open and Repair tool.
Now read: Word found unreadable content in document.