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QuickBooks Excel Could Not open the Data File

QuickBooks Excel Could Not open the Data File

QuickBooks ‘excel could not open the data file’ error message often results from exporting a .csv file from the accounting software. If you are using QuickBooks 2016, you may encounter an issue when trying to open a data file exported from QuickBooks. According to the QuickBooks support website, this problem may occur if the data file was exported using a newer version of QuickBooks (i.e. QuickBooks 2015 or 2016). 

In order to resolve this issue, you may need to import the data file into QuickBooks using the older version of QuickBooks. While generally occurring in older versions of the accounting thing software, the error can also occur sometimes in some of the latest versions.

What is QuickBooks ‘excel could not open the data file’ error?

When excel cannot open the data file that you exported using QuickBooks desktop, then it usually means that the file wasn’t properly exported. In some cases, it may relate to damage to the company file or the user using an old version of QuickBooks desktop that doesn’t have the update that fixes this particular issue.

There are times when you find yourself in the position of having to start over from scratch because of an issue with how your software is opening up a file that you found. In this article, we’ll cover four different ways you can fix this issue.

What are the causes of Excel not opening data file errors in QuickBooks?

Here are the primary causes of the ‘excel not opening data file’ error in QuickBooks:

  • The user has an obsolete version of Microsoft Excel
  • The data export wasn’t processed properly
  • Excel export isn’t working properly
  • The export wasn’t completed successfully
  • Damage to the Company File or Data

Rectifying Solutions to Fix QuickBooks Excel Could Not open the Data File Issue

Method #1: Restart your system

To begin troubleshooting and fixing the error, we’re going to restart the system and reconfigure excel so that we can easily work with the exported file. In some cases, this can work to at least provide immediate relief from the QuickBooks ‘excel cannot open the data file error.

Here are the steps for one time fix of the ‘excel cannot open the data file’ QuickBooks error:

  1. Exit QuickBooks after saving your data.
  2. Restart your system.
  3. Launch Quickbooks Desktop.
  4. Open the Report.
  5. Send the Report to excel.

While this method fixes the error immediately, it’s not a permanent solution. You can’t restart your system every time you want to export your data or reports in excel format. After trying this solution for one or two cycles, you should try to fix the problem permanently especially if it keeps recurring.

Method #2: Update QuickBooks after Resetting

While the error is quite evident at this point, let’s look at a brief explanation of the error that you receive upon exporting reports from QuickBooks desktop to Excel.

You should first update your accounting software via an admin account. A standard user cannot make changes to software in windows or QuickBooks, so be prepared with authentication details of an admin account when you’re planning to update the QuickBooks desktop on your system.

To update the QuickBooks desktop on your system, follow the steps provided below:

  1. Go to the Help menu.
  2. Choose the Update QuickBooks Desktop menu from the drop-down menu.
  3. Click on the Update Now tab.
  4. Mark the Reset Updates checkbox to delete the old files downloaded automatically by QB for software updates.
  5. Click on Get Updates.

Restart the QuickBooks desktop so that you can install the updates. As soon as you exit QuickBooks, you’ll get a prompt to install the updates. Click on Yes and wait for the update process to complete.

Method #3: Rebuild Company File Data

When excel cannot open a data file exported using QuickBooks, you should try to verify the accuracy of your data. Doing this is easy using the verify and rebuild utilities available in the accounting software.

Both the verify and rebuild functionality work to eliminate any errors present in your accounting data. Here are the primary reasons that can lead you to verify and rebuild data in the QuickBooks company file:

  • Errors related to company files in QB
  • Problems and inaccuracies in reports
  • Excel exports not working as desired
  • Names of accounts are missing
  • All transactions aren’t showing up

So let’s proceed with the steps provided below to verify your accounting data in QuickBooks Desktop:

  1. Open QuickBooks Desktop.
  2. Go to the Window option, then click on Choose All.
  3. From the File menu, go to the Utility option.
  4. Choose Verify data.

Here are the three results that can get when you verify your data in QuickBooks Desktop:

  • ‘QuickBooks detected no problems with your data‘: This result means that you don’t have to rebuild your data, as there is no problem with your company file data.
  • Specific error: when you receive a specific error message, you need to resolve that particular error so that you can work normally with your accounting data.
  • ‘Your data has lost integrity: this result means that there is some sort of data damage that requires you to rebuild your data to resolve the issue.

If you got the second or third option, then that would explain why excel cannot open a data file created using QuickBooks desktop. For the second case, resolve the error message that you received.

To get Excel to work with data exported from Quickbooks, follow the steps provided below:

  1. Go to the File option.
  2. Click on Utilities, then Rebuild Data.
  3. For the warning message, select Ok.
    Note: back up your accounting data when the rebuild utility prompts you for it. The rebuild function may not work properly, so having a backup of your company file is always a good idea.

Once the rebuild data utility completes its functions, you can launch QuickBooks desktop and open the company file, then export the data or report in .CSV format. When you open the excel data file now, it should work without any issues.

However, if you still receive an error when you open the exported data file with excel, then you may be dealing with damage to your company file. In this case, reach out to our accounting software professionals as soon as possible.


If you’ve ever tried to open a data file exported from QuickBooks in Excel, you know that it can be a frustrating experience. Excel just doesn’t seem to be able to handle the complexity of the data.

There are a few things that you can do to make importing your QuickBooks data into Excel easier. First, make sure that the file is properly formatted. Second, try using a data import tool like QBExcel Data Import. Finally, if all else fails, try importing the data into another spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel or LibreOffice Calc. Regardless of how you go about importing your data, it’s always worth a try!


How to know if excel has the required files to open a data file exported with QuickBooks desktop?

If you are using Excel 2007 or later, you will need to install the QuickBooks Export Toolkit. This will allow you to export your data into a QuickBooks file. If you are using an earlier version of Excel, you may be able to open the exported file without installing the QuickBooks Export Toolkit. If this is not possible, you may need to install the QuickBooks Export Toolkit.

Please note: If your data was previously imported into QuickBooks from a different program, such as a spreadsheet program, you may need to adjust some of the settings in order for Excel to correctly open the exported file. For more information, please see our article on importing data into QuickBooks.

Why can’t I open the data exported in excel format with QuickBooks desktop?

If you’ve exported your QuickBooks data to a file in Excel format, you may not be able to open it in QuickBooks. The problem is that the file’s structure is based on Microsoft Excel’s VBA programming language, which QuickBooks doesn’t understand. To reconvert the data into a format that QuickBooks can understand, you’ll need to re-import it into the program.

If QuickBooks Excel cannot open the data file, then how do I know if my company file isn’t damaged?

We’ve mentioned the same in the post above. You can simply use the verify utility to look for data damage. If any particular error is found, then you can fix the error. If the integrity of the data is compromised, then simply use the Rebuild data utility available for free on the QuickBooks desktop. You can also rely on QuickBooks Tool Hub to scan for company file issues.

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