[Fixed]: Excel File Couldn’t Open in Protected View [2023]

[Fixed]: Excel File Couldn’t Open in Protected View [2023]

The Protected View is a security option in Excel that opens the Excel workbook in read-only mode when the application detects the file is from an unsafe location. For example, the file may be downloaded from an unsafe website or received as an email attachment. However, sometimes, you may fail to open the Excel file even if it is from a safe location and receive an error, saying “Excel file couldn’t open in Protected View.” In this article, we will discuss the causes behind this error and the ways to fix it. 

Reasons for Excel File Couldn’t Open in Protected View Error

There are many reasons that can lead to the “The Excel file couldn’t open in Protected View” error. Here are a few common causes:

  • Excel Protected Settings are enabled
  • Corrupted or incomplete Office installation
  • Outdated MS Office installation
  • Incompatible Excel file format

Methods to Fix the “Excel File couldn’t Open in Protected View” Error

Many users have reported experiencing the “Excel file couldn’t open in protected view” error after installing the Windows updates. You can roll back the updates and then try to open the file. If this is not the case, then follow the below troubleshooting methods to fix the error.

Method 1: Select the Unblock Option in Excel File Property Settings

When you select the Unblock option in Excel file settings, it specifies that you are trusting the source of the file. Below are the steps to enable the Unblock option:

  • Navigate to the location of the affected Excel file.
  • Right-click on it and select the Properties option.
  • Check the box next to the Unblock option.
  • Click Apply > OK.

Method 2: Change the Excel File Format

Sometimes, the “Excel file couldn’t open in Protected View” error occurs due to an incompatible Excel file format. To fix the issue, you can convert the Excel file into a different format. Make sure to make a copy of the original file before converting it into another format. Follow the below steps to convert the Excel file into another format:

  • Open your Excel file.
  • Click on the file you want to save in another program.
  • Go to the File option and then select Save As.
  • Specify the location where you want to save the file.
  • In the File name, rename the file and choose the desired format from the Save as Type list. 

Method 3: Check and Disable the Protected View Settings

You may fail to open the Excel file due to Protected View settings. Many users have confirmed that they’re able to resolve the “Excel File couldn’t open in Protected View” error by simply disabling the Protected View settings. Before disabling these settings, make sure your system has a reliable Antivirus software installed or the source of the file is trustable. Here are the steps to disable Protected View settings in Excel:

  • First, open the affected Excel file.
  • Then, navigate to File > Options.
  • In the Options dialog box, select Trust Center and click Trust Center Settings.
  • In the Trust Center window, click Protected View and then unselect all the three options under Protected View.
  • Click OK to apply the changes.

Method 4: Repair the MS Office Program

Sometimes, the ‘Excel File couldn’t open in Protected View’ error can occur due to missing, damaged, or corrupted MS Office program files. In such a case, you can try repairing your MS Office program. Here are the steps to repair the MS Office program:

  • Go to your system’s Control Panel.
  • Click All Control Panel Items and then click Programs and Features.
  • Under Program and Features, search and right-click on the Microsoft Office program and click Change.
  • Click Repair and then click the Continue button.
  • Wait till the repair process is complete. Then, check if you’re able to open the Excel file without any errors.

Method 5: Repair your Excel File

Corruption in Excel file is also one of the reasons behind such errors. To repair the Excel file, you can use the Excel’s built-in utility – Open and Repair. It can resolve minor corruption-related issues in the Excel file. Here’s the procedure to use this utility:

  • In the Excel application, navigate to the File option.
  • Click Open and then click Browse to choose the Excel file (in which you are getting the error).
  • In the Open dialog box, click the problematic Excel file.
  • Click the arrow next to the Open option and select Open and Repair.
  • Click Repair to recover as much data as possible.
  • The application displays a completion message after the repair process is complete. Click Close.

The Open and Repair utility may not resolve the issues if the Excel file is severely corrupted. In such a case, you can try a more advanced Excel Repair tool, such as Stellar Repair for Excel. This secure Excel repair tool is trusted by Excel experts. It can repair highly damaged Excel files and recover all the components from the file without changing the original formatting. The tool is compatible with all the versions of Excel and can be installed on any of the latest Windows operating systems, including Windows 11.


The Excel File couldn’t open in Protected View error prevents you from opening the Excel file. You can try changing the Excel file format, disabling the Protected View settings, and other methods discussed above to troubleshoot the error. If the error has occurred due to damaged or corrupted components in the Excel file, you can use Stellar Repair for Excel to repair the Excel file. The tool can help you repair corrupted Excel file easily and with complete integrity. You can download the demo version of the Excel repair tool to scan and preview the corrupted file.

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