FIX: Excel file could not be accessed

Matthew Adams
by Matthew Adams
Windows & Software Expert
Matthew is a freelancer who has produced a variety of articles on various topics related to technology. His main focus is the Windows OS and all the things surrounding it. He is passionate about... Read more
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The Excel file could not be accessed error can arise when users try to save or open a file within that application. Consequently, users can’t save or open spreadsheets when that error arises.

Microsoft has confirmed the issue occurs for Excel spreadsheet files with paths that exceed the maximum of 218 characters.

Check out these resolutions for the file could not be accessed error

1. Edit the Excel file’s title

  1. Click the File Explorer button on Windows 10’s taskbar.
  2. Open the folder that includes the problematic Excel spreadsheet.
  3. Right-click the Excel file  and select the Rename option.
    Rename option excel file could not be accessed when saving
  4. Enter a completely different file title that’s shorter and does not include any exclamation marks or brackets.
  5. Press Return after renaming the file.
  6. Try opening the file in Excel again to save it.

2. Edit the Excel file’s folder titles

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Right-click the folder that includes the Excel file and select Rename.
  3. Enter a shorter folder title, and press the Return key.
    Folder context menu excel file could not be accessed when saving

If the path for the file includes more than one folder, repeat the above steps for the other folders in its path.


3. Save the Excel file to a USB drive

  1. Insert the USB drive into your desktop or laptop.
  2. Open File Explorer.
  3. Open the folder that includes the Excel file the error occurs for.
  4. Select the Excel file.
  5. Click the Move to button to open the menu shown directly below.Move to button excel file could not be accessed when saving
  6. Click Choose location to open the window in the snapshot directly below.Move Items window excel file could not be accessed when saving
  7. Select the USB drive to move the spreadsheet to.
  8. Click the Move button.
  9. Then open the Excel spreadsheet from the USB stick.

4. Start Excel in Safe Mode

  1. Open Run with the Windows key + R keyboard shortcut.
  2. Input excel /safe in Run’s text box, and select the OK option.
Run window excel file could not be accessed when saving

If the issue doesn’t arise in Safe Mode, then a third-party add-in is probably generating the save error. You can carry on utilizing Excel in Safe Mode to edit the required file. To fix the issue outside Safe Mode, however, you’ll need to manually deactivate Excel add-ins.

5. Use a third-party tool for Excel errors

Another viable solution would be to use a tool that specializes in repairing corrupt Excel files and performs this protocol automatically.

Stellar Repair for Excel is a professional program that repairs damaged .XLS and .XLSX files in a single process, as well as corrupted workbooks of all versions of Excel. Moreover, it can recover datasets and visual representations of your data, in the original form.

Its clean and intuitive interface makes it a time-saving and efficient solution to the Excel file could not be accessed error.

Get Stellar Repair for Excel

Those are some of the resolutions that can fix the file could not be accessed error. Note that the above resolutions might also fix similar Filename is not valid and <filename> could not be found Excel error messages.

If you know of any other fixes we may have missed out on, leave us a message in the comments section below and we will update the article accordingly.

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