How to Open an Excel File Without Excel

Microsoft’s Windows 10 is operating on some 800 million devices worldwide, according to the company’s website. 

But what happens when your Windows breaks? Or when you Microsoft Office files corrupt what? 

You feel like the only person out of 800 million not able to get to your .xls files. 

This article will teach you some of the easiest ways how to open an Excel file without Excel.

But first, let’s get our vocab straight. 

What Kind of Files Are Excel Files?

The short answer is this: many and the most common are the .xls files and .xlsx file. 

The .xls file was the unique Excel spreadsheet format for Microsoft Excel 97-2003. In 2007, Microsoft office created an open XML spreadsheet and added the extension .xlsx. 

According to Microsoft’s support website, there are 14 unique Excel-focused files, 10 text file formats, and 4 “other” file formats. There are also 11 file formats that the program no longer supports. 

View-Only Software

These are small-file-sized programs that only display the file contents. 

File Viewer Lite: This is a free Windows-friendly file viewing tool. It’s produced by Sharpened Publications. It can open and view .xls, .xlsx and 150 other file types. There is a premium version of this product that adds even more file formats. 

Microsoft Excel Viewer: This is also free and available through Softonic. It opens files with a similar format and view that looks like it’s opened in Excel. But note it just looks like it; no functions.


There are several cloud-based options for viewing and editing files. The only drawback is that they require an internet connection to use at all or to use all the program’s features. 

Exel For Web: Microsoft has a free version of Excel that anyone can access through a browser with a Microsoft login. It’s free and you can do all the basic built-in functions of Excel. You can also use lite versions of Word, PowerPoint, and OneNote through a browser.

Google Sheet: This is part of the Google toolbox that’s built into the Google Drive which is, again, available through a browser. And again, it’s free. There is also a mobile application for nearly all mobile devices. 

Zoho Sheets: This free sheets creator uses hundred of built-in functions to clean, visualize and analyze data. Zoho prides itself for cross-compatibility and live collaboration. 

Free Software

Open-source programs can provide powerful software for file creating and editing. 

Apache OpenOffice: This one of the preeminent open-source software productivity suites. This free software comes with Calc, a spreadsheet editor. There is also a free database program, called Base, for the more technical and larger management of data. 

LibreOffice: It’s super similar to OpenOffice. But there are key licensing differences. The big one being the types of file formats that it will view and edit versus those that are view only. 

Use this service for more sophisticated and technical computing and programming interfacing. 

Do You Know How to Open an Excel File Without Excel? 

What did we miss? What do you think is the best way on how to open an Excel file without Excel? 

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