How to Fix the "Excel Found Unreadable Content" Error?

Excel 365
You may receive the “Excel found unreadable content in filename.xlsx” error when opening the Excel file. This error usually occurs if the Excel file is corrupted. However, there might be several other reasons that may cause this error. Let’s discuss the causes behind the error and the solutions to resolve it.

What Causes the “Excel Found Unreadable Content" Error?

The ‘Excel found unreadable content in xxx.xlsx. Do you want to recover the content of this workbook’ error usually occurs due to damaged or corrupted Excel file. The corruption in Excel file can occur due to sudden power cut, network glitch, abrupt system shutdown, etc. The error can also occur if you try to open the file with an incorrect extension.

Methods to Resolve the "Excel Found Unreadable Content" Error

Following are some methods you can try to fix the “Excel found unreadable content” error.

Method 1: Make the File Read-Only

You can try to open the Excel file by making it ‘read-only’. Following are the steps:

  • Open your Excel file and click on the File menu.
  • Click on Save As and then select the location.
    Save As Menu Click on Browse
  • In the ‘Save As’ dialog box, click Tools > General Options.
    Go to Tools and Select General Options in the Browse Window
  • Click on ‘Read-only recommended’ checkbox to make the file read-only and then click OK.
    In General Options Window, Check the Red-only recommended box
  • Open a new file and then copy the content from the corrupted Excel file to the new file.
  • Now save the file and then try to open it again.

Method 2: Change the Excel File Location to a New Folder

Many users have confirmed that they’re able to open the Excel file after moving the file to a different folder. So, you can try moving the affected Excel file to a new folder and check if it resolves the issue.

Method 3: Install Visual Basic Component in Office 2010

You may encounter the “Excel found unreadable content” error in Office 2010 due to missing Visual Basic Component. In such a case, you can install Visual Basic Component using the below steps:

  • Open Control Panel. Go to Programs and select Microsoft Office 2010.
  • Select ‘Change’ and then click ‘Add or Remove Programs.’
  • Find ‘Visual Basic Applications’ and right-click on it.
  • Click ‘Run from my Computer’ and hit the ‘Continue’ button.
  • Reboot your computer when the process is complete.

Method 4: Change the Default File Format

If you try to open the Excel file with an incompatible extension, you may get the “Excel found unreadable content” error. To fix the issue, you can try changing the file format. Follow the below steps:

  • Open your Excel application.
  • Go to the File menu and then click on Options.
  • In the Options window, under the Save workbooks option, click on “Save files in this file format.”
  • Choose a supportable file format as per your Excel version.

Method 5: Restore Excel File to the Previously Saved Version

If your Excel file turns inaccessible, then you can try restoring the previously saved version of the file. Excel saves a version of the file automatically if the AutoRecover feature is enabled beforehand. Follow these steps to restore the Excel file using the Recover Unsaved Workbooks option:

  • Open your Excel file (if it is opening).
  • Go to File > Info > Manage Workbook.
    In the Info Tab, Click on Manage Workbook
  • Click on Recover Unsaved Workbooks.
  • Select the available last auto-saved file version and click Open.
  • Verify the data.
  • Go to File and select Save As to save the file.

Method 6: Repair Your Excel Worksheet

The “Excel found unreadable content” error can occur if your Excel file is corrupted. You can try repairing the file using the Microsoft Excel inbuilt Open and Repair utility. Follow the given steps:

  • Open your Excel application.
  • Go to File > Open.
  • In the ‘Open’ dialog box, click on the Excel file you want to repair and then click on the arrow next to the ‘Open’ option.
  • From the dropdown list, choose Open and Repair.
  • A dialog box appears, asking you to repair the file or extract data from it.
  • Click on the Repair option.

If the “Open and Repair” tool fails to repair the corrupted Excel file, then you can try an advanced Excel repair tool, such as Stellar Repair for Excel. This tool can help repair severely corrupted Excel files of any size. It can recover all the components of the file, such as tables, cell comments, chart sheets, etc., without changing their original structure and formatting.


The “Excel found unreadable content” error can occur due to several reasons. You can try the methods discussed above to fix the issue. If the Excel file is corrupt, you can try the “Open and Repair” tool to repair the file. Alternatively, you can use Stellar Repair for Excel - an advanced Excel repair tool to repair corrupt Excel (.xls, .xlsx, .xltm, .xltx, and .xlsm) files. It helps you to retrieve all the data from the damaged/corrupt file with 100% integrity. The tool is compatible with Excel 2021, 2019, 2016, and older versions.

Please, disable AdBlock and reload the page to continue

Today, 30% of our visitors use Ad-Block to block ads.We understand your pain with ads, but without ads, we won't be able to provide you with free content soon. If you need our content for work or study, please support our efforts and disable AdBlock for our site. As you will see, we have a lot of helpful information to share.