Save an Excel workbook for compatibility with earlier versions of Excel

You’ve upgraded to a new version of Excel, and realize you’ll be sharing workbooks with people who haven’t upgraded yet. Running the Compatibility Checker can help you identify features or information that might not be available in an earlier version, so you can resolve some of those issues before you share your workbook.

Save a file to .xls format and review Compatibility Checker issues

  1. Click File > Export.

  2. Under Export, click Change File Type.

    Change File Type on the Export tab

  3. Under Workbook File Types, double-click Excel 97-2003 Workbook (*.xls).

    Excel 97-2003 Workbook format

  4. In the Save As dialog box, pick the location for the workbook.

  5. In the File name box, type a new file name or use the one that’s already there.

  6. Click Save.

  7. If the Compatibility Checker appears, review the compatibility issues it found.

    Compatibility Checker showing minor loss of fidelity issues

    The Find link takes you to that place in your worksheet. The Help link takes you to information on the issue and possible solutions.


  • In your new version of Excel, the workbook you just saved in .xls format opens in Compatibility Mode. Keep working in this mode when you plan to send this workbook back and forth to people who open it in the earlier version of Excel.

  • When you’re done with the backward compatibility, click File > Info > Convert to convert the workbook to the current file format so you can take advantage of what's new in Excel.

Run the Compatibility Checker for Excel 2007 and later

To verify that a workbook is compatible with Excel 2013, 2010, or 2007, run the Compatibility Checker manually the first time you save your workbook. Then set the Compatibility Checker to run automatically every time you save that workbook.

  1. Click File > Info > Check for Issues.

    Check Compatibility

  2. Pick Check Compatibility.

  3. To check for compatibility automatically from now on, check the Check compatibility when saving this workbook box.

    Tip: You can also specify the versions of Excel you want to include when you check for compatibility. All versions are checked by default, so just uncheck the versions you don't want to include.

    Compatiblity Checker, showing versions to check

    If any issues are found, the Find link takes you to that place in your worksheet. The Help link takes you to information on the issue and possible solutions.

Need more help?

You can always ask an expert in the Excel Tech Community, get support in the Answers community, or suggest a new feature or improvement on Excel User Voice.

See Also

Excel formatting and features that are not transferred to other file formats

Worksheet compatibility issues

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