We’re sorry, can’t open the workbook in the browser

Aleksandar Ognjanovic
by Aleksandar Ognjanovic
Troubleshooting Expert
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  • Sharepoint and Excel workbooks are something that office workers are familiar with every day.
  • The guide below will help you in case you cannot access them anymore.
  • If you need more help with SharePoint, visit our SharePoint Issues Hub.
  • If you are interested in browsers, you'll love our website's dedicated Browsers section.
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Accessing and editing your workbooks online shouldn’t be an issue. However, it seemingly is for some users, as they are unable to open workbooks from Microsoft Excel or SharePoint.

They’re met with the We’re sorry we can’t open the workbook in the browser error and can’t proceed. We have some tips on how to solve this.

How do I open workbook in the browser?

  1. Try with Edge, IE, or Opera
  2. Turn on Sharing
  3. Edit a copy instead of the original file

1. Try with Edge, IE, or Opera

Let’s start by migrating to Edge or IE. Yes, we know that those might not be browsers of your choice but they work the best with other web-based Microsoft applications.

You can, additionally, install certain IE-specific add-ons which might allow you unprecedented access to your workbook, be it SharePoint or Excel.

Alternatively, you can give Opera a try. This Chromium-based browser checks all the boxes when it comes to reliability and safety. Allegedly, Microsoft limits access to its web-based applications on the competing browsers.

So, how about a browser that’s privacy-oriented and feature-rich. It won’t cost you anything but some time to install it and give it a try.

Besides, the browser is customizable in order to fit a wide variety of needs, thanks to the extensive add-on support.



Open, edit and work on your SharePoint workbooks without any issues thanks to this fast, efficient, and highly customizable web browser.

2. Turn on Sharing

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Click on the Review tab.
  2. Choose the Share Workbook tool.
  3. Check the Allow Changes box and confirm changes.

Usually, there are some parts of the file that are not supported for sharing, but you should still be able to show the main part of the file in the web-based application.

However, what you need to do is enable sharing for the said file before we can access it online. This option is disabled by default, and you should enable it in order for an Excel sheet or SharePoint file to be accessible online.

3. Edit a copy instead of the original file

Finally, you can try editing the file copy instead of the original file. That allowed some users to access the file online, even though it still might not work in the likes of Chrome or Firefox, so have that in mind. You can choose to edit the copy which should help.

Once the error appears, just click Edit a copy and you can merge everything locally. Just don’t forget to use a different name or the original file will be replaced upon saving, otherwise.

With that said, we can conclude this article. In case you have any questions or alternative workarounds, feel free to tell us in the comments section below.

The solutions are also effective if you are experiencing the following errors:

  • We’re sorry, We can’t open the workbook in the browser because it uses these unsupported features
  • Sorry we can’t open your workbook in Excel online

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2019 and has been since revamped and updated in July 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published in January 2019 and was revamped and updated in September 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.