Fix : Excel Found Unreadable Content Error

Many users of Excel 2010 have reported seeing an error “Excel found unreadable content in filename.xlsx”. This unreadable content may be due to the different functions, macros, or formulas used in the file. The error message allows you to repair the contents of the workbook. If you continue with the recovery process then Excel will open the file after repairing or removing content. In this case, you may lose data at the end of the repair process, or your file may be empty with no real data, or the document may be corrupt and cannot be opened.

The factors that can lead to this unreadable content error in Excel can be due to lack of administrative privileges, file permissions, the conflict between Excel version and your XLS file, missing VB component in MS Office installation,  full Excel cache, blocked file, or system does not support hardware acceleration. Based on solutions tried and tested by different users, we have listed some troubleshooting methods that will help you fix this error.




1. When prompted with the error click on No and then close all open Excel files. Now try reopening the Excel file again to check if it fixes the error.

2. Check if moving the file to a different folder in your system helps resolve the issue.


Fix 1 – Grant Administrative Privileges to Excel


1. Press Windows + S and type Excel.

2. Right-click on the search result Excel and select Run as administrator.


Excel Run As Admin Min


3. When prompted by UAC click on Yes.

4. Now Excel opens with admin privileges. Try opening the file showing the unreadable content error.

5. If the error still persists, move to the next fix below.


Fix 2 – Save File as Web Page


1. Open the file showing the error. Click on Yes at the error prompt.

2. Go to the File menu.


Excel File Menu Min


3. Select Save As and click on Browse.


Excel File Save As Min


4. Next to Filename, type a name for the file.

5. In the dropdown next to Save As Type, select Web Page(.htm, .HTML).

6. Click on Save to save the file into a .HTML file.


Save File As Web Page Min


7. Open Excel application. Go to the File menu.


Excel File Menu Min


8. Select Open.



9. Browse to the location of the file converted to HTML.


Excel File Open Min


10. Select the file and click on Open.


File Open Web Page Min


11. Now HTML file is opened in Excel. Go to the File menu.


Excel File Menu Min


12. Click on Save As on the left side.


Excel Save As Min


13. Give a name for the file or use the same name.

14. Change the file type to Excel 97-2003 Workbook (*.xls)  format. Click on Save.


File Save As Excel 97 2003 Min


13. Close the file and try reopening it again. You must be able to view the file contents without any error.


Fix 3 – Install the Visual Basic Component for Office 2013/2010


1. Press Windows + R to open Run. Type appwiz.cpl to open Programs and Features.


Run Appwiz.cpl Min


2. Inside Programs and Features, locate your MS Office 2010/2013 installation.

3. Right-click on your Office installation and select Change.


Change Office Installation Min


4. Inside the Microsoft Office Setup window, choose the option Add or Remove Features. Click on Continue to proceed.


Office 2010 Add Remove Features Min


5. Locate Office Shared Features in the list of add-ons. Expand Office Shared Features by clicking on the plus sign next to it.

6. Right-click on Visual Basic for Applications and select Run from My Computer.


Office 2010 Vb Forapplications Min


7. Click on Continue and follow the on-screen instruction to complete the upgrade process.

8. Restart your system and check if the error is resolved while trying to open the Excel file.


Fix 4 – Change Excel File Permission to Read-Only


1. Open Excel and click on the File menu.


Excel File Menu Min


2. Click on Save for a new document or Save As for a previously saved document.


Excel File Save As Min


3. In the Save As Dialog box, select your file showing the error.

4. Click on Tools at the bottom and select General Options…


Excel File Save As Tools General Options Min


5. In the General Options window, check the box next to Read-only recommended for making the file read-only.

6. Click on OK  and then on Save.


File General Options Read Only Min


7. Now open a new blank .xls file. Copy everything from the corrupt file to this new file.

8. Save this file and try to open it again to check if this fixes the issue.


Fix 5 – Unblock the File


1. Go to the folder that contains the Excel file showing the error.

2. Right-click on the file and select Properties.


Excle File Properties Min


3. Go to the General tab.

4. Uncheck the box next to Unblock near Security settings.

5. Click on Apply and then on OK to save the changes.


Excle File Properties Unblock Min


6. Open the Excel file and check if the error is fixed.


Fix 6 – Disable Hardware Acceleration


1. Open MS Excel application. Click on the File menu.


Excel File Menu Min


2. Select Options at the bottom of the screen.


Excel File Options Min


3. In the Excel Options window, go to the Advanced tab.

4. On the right side, locate the Display section and check the box associated with Disable hardware graphics acceleration.

5. Click on OK to save the settings.


Excel Options Advanced Disable Graphics Acceleration Min


6. Restart Excel and open the file throwing the error to see if it is resolved.


Thanks for reading.

After attempting the above fixes your Excel file must open without any unreadable content error. We hope this article has been informative. Let us know the fix that worked for you.