Fix: This File Couldn’t Open in Protected View Error in Excel

Do you see a ‘This file couldn’t open in protected view’ error in Microsoft Excel?

Microsoft Excel is one of the best spreadsheet software in the world, with tons of various tools for processing and analyzing data and numbers. It has been around for decades and is the go-to program for professionals and students. 

With over 30 years of experience, it is easy to think that Microsoft Excel is close to perfection. 

Unfortunately, this doesn’t save the program from errors and unexpected issues. Like any software, Excel can also suffer bugs and glitches. 

If you are reading this, we can assume that you are seeing a ‘This file couldn’t open in protected view’ error on Excel. Most of the time, this issue occurs if the file you are trying to open is not compatible with the version of Excel you are running. 

However, it can also be due to corrupted or missing data or improper device configurations. 

To help you out, we’ve decided to make a guide for fixing the ‘This file couldn’t open in protected view’ error in Microsoft Excel. 

Let’s get right into it!

1. Restart Your Computer. 

Like with our other guides, we suggest restarting your device whenever you encounter issues with Microsoft Excel. This way, you can ensure that the problem is not caused by a temporary bug or glitch that occurred during runtime. 

Here’s how you can restart your PC: 

  1. First, save your progress and ensure that Microsoft Excel is closed. 
  2. After that, access the Start Menu and click on the Power Options tab. 
  3. Lastly, choose Restart and wait for your computer to reboot. 
Restart your PC

Once done, go back to your file and see if you can now access it. 

2. Disable Protected View. 

One of the most common reasons why this error message occurs on Excel is if your program is set to protected view. The file you are trying to access might not be compatible with protected view, which explains the error. 

To avoid this issue, follow the steps below to disable protected view: 

  1. First, open Microsoft Excel on your computer. 
  2. After that, go to File > Options
  3. Now, click on Trust Center in the side menu and choose the Trust Center Settings option. 
  4. Lastly, go to the Protected View tab and ensure that all the options are unchecked. 
this file couldnt open in protected view error in Excel

Save the changes afterward and try accessing your Excel file. 

3. Disable Hardware Acceleration. 

Hardware acceleration is a feature that allows applications to take advantage of your graphics card and other compatible hardware to improve performance. However, not all systems benefit from hardware acceleration and could also pose issues. 

If you can’t access your files properly in Microsoft Excel, we suggest turning off hardware acceleration in the settings. 

See the steps below to guide you in the process: 

  1. On Microsoft Excel, go to File > Options
  2. Next, access the Advanced tab. 
  3. Finally, look for the Display tab and click on the Disable Hardware Graphics Acceleration option. 
this file couldnt open in protected view error in Excel

Once done, save the changes and try accessing your file. 

4. Check Your File Block Settings.

Your Microsoft Excel’s file block settings may not be set correctly, which causes the ‘This file couldn’t open in protected view’ error. To avoid this issue, see the steps below to tweak your block settings. 

  1. First, open Microsoft Excel on your computer. 
  2. After that, click on the File tab and go to Options
  3. Now, go to Trust Center and click on Trust Center Settings
  4. Access the File Block Settings section in the side menu and look for ‘Excel 4 Workbooks’. 
  5. Lastly, uncheck all the options from ‘Excel 4 Workbooks’ to ‘Excel 2 Macrosheets and Add-in Files’. 
this file couldnt open in protected view error in Excel

Save the changes, restart your computer, and see if you still see the error message when opening your Excel file. 

5. Update Microsoft Excel. 

The version of Microsoft Excel you’re running might not be compatible with the file you are trying to access. To avoid issues, we recommend updating your software to the latest version possible. 

Here’s what you need to do: 

  1. First, open Microsoft Excel and access the File tab. 
  2. Now, go to Accounts
  3. Lastly, click on Update Options and choose Update Now or Enable Updates
this file couldnt open in protected view error in Excel

Restart Microsoft Excel afterward and check if the problem is solved.


6. Rename the Excel File. 

For some users, they were able to resolve the issue by simply renaming the Excel file they could not access. Unfortunately, we can’t find any explanation for why this workaround works. However, you can try it on your end and see for yourself. 

Simply locate the file you want to open, right-click on it, and choose ‘Rename’. Try accessing the file afterward to see if renaming works. 

7. Reinstall Microsoft Excel. 

If none of the solutions above worked, the last thing you can do is reinstall Microsoft Excel on your computer. Some of Excel’s resources may have gotten corrupted, and the update can no longer fix them. 

Check out the guide below to delete Excel: 

  1. On your computer, go to the Control Panel and click on Uninstall a Program
  2. Look for Microsoft Excel afterward and right-click on it. 
  3. Finally, choose Uninstall and follow the prompts. 

Once done, reinstall the software and check if the problem is solved. 

That ends our guide for fixing the ‘This file couldn’t open in protected view’ error in Excel. If you have questions or other concerns, please drop a comment below, and we’ll do our best to answer them. 

If this guide helped you, please share it. 🙂


  • John Sixto

    John is a staff writer at Saint and comes from a SAP ABAP development background. He has a Bachelors in IT and has been writing since 2018, with over 500 posts published. He loves to build PCs and has a deep curiosity in understanding how different components and configurations work. John spends hundreds of hours at a time, researching and testing the software and apps, before he proceeds to write about it. LinkedIn X (Twitter) Website

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