Since the first introduction of XLSX, it has become one of the most used file formats in the business world along with DOCX and DOC. People from all walks of life create XLSX files to store and analyze data. They make quotation sheets, financial statements, and a large number of other documents in XLSX format. The use of XLSX files is important to the success of any modern company.

Learn what an XLSX file is and how to open it.    

What Is an XLSX File?

XLSX is an Open XML Spreadsheet format developed by Microsoft for its industry-leading spreadsheet software, Microsoft Excel. It is the newer version of XLS and the default file format for saving documents in Microsoft Excel 2007 and later. So what is an XLSX file? In simple words, an XLSX file is an Excel file for creating spreadsheets.

An XLSX file uses the filename extension .xlsx. It stores data in worksheets or workbooks. A workbook refers to an entire file and can contain multiple worksheets. Every XLSX file and its worksheet is made up of rectangle cells formed by intersections of rows and columns.   

XLSX files are believed as the optimal file type for organizing and managing tables, text, shapes, and other data information. Specifically, you can apply formulas in XLSX files to calculate, filter, present large amounts of data, etc. They can contain charts, mathematical functions, styles, and formatting if needed.


Although both XLSX and XLS are the native file formats of Microsoft Excel for producing spreadsheets, they have many differences such as the file extensions .xlsx and .xls. Some other differences between XLS and XLSX are as follows.

File Size

XLSX, the Open XML Format uses zip compression technology to store documents, and thus XLSX files are smaller than XLS files.


As XLS is the default file format of the older Microsoft Excel versions (Excel 97 to Excel 2003), it has higher compatibility than XLSX. That is to say, XLS files are accessible by any Microsoft Excel version while XLSX files are only readable by Excel 2007 and later.

Support Macros or Not

XLS files support Macros, a kind of program that users can write to automate those repeated tasks such as data comparison. However, XLSX files do not support Macros.


Macros benefits users while threatening the security of computers as well. Why? Some viruses written in the same macro language will run when you open an XLS file. Therefore, XLSX files are relatively more secure.

Advanced Features

Files in the XLSX Open XML format support many advanced features of Microsoft Excel, such as AutoSave and Accessibility Checker.

How to Open XLSX Files

We’ve done explaining what an XLSX file is and the differences between XLSX and XLS, and this part will go through how to open XLSX files.

Because XLSX files have gained great popularity and been accepted as the standard file type for storing data in many industries, heaps of applications have been developed to open them. Windows has no built-in programs to open XLSX files while Mac does. Here is a list of some native and third-party free XLSX file openers and viewers.

  • Microsoft Excel (Windows and Mac)  
  • Apache OpenOffice (Windows, Mac, and Linux)
  • LibreOffice(Windows, Mac, and Linux)
  • Apple Numbers(Mac)
  • Online Version of Microsoft Excel
  • Google Sheets (Online)
  • Google Chrome Extension: Office Editing for Docs, Sheets & Slides (Online)

The OpenOffice and LibreOffice are two open-source and free software applications to open XLSX files on Windows, Mac OS, and many other OS.

Mac devices come with a pre-installed and free XLSX file opener, Numbers. You can also download the app on the App Store to open XLSX files on Mac.

Google Sheets is a free spreadsheet program offered by Google. You can register for it with your Google account to use it as an XLSX file viewer and editor.

The Office Editing for Docs, Sheets & Slides browser extension from Chrome Web Store lets you open and edit XLSX files in Google Chrome.

With these open-source and free online options, it’s easy to open XLSX files without the Microsoft Office suite (Excel).

How to Convert XLSX to PDF

If you are using one of the mentioned XLSX file openers, open your file, go to “File” > “Save as” or “File” > “Print” to convert an XLSX file to a PDF. Besides, utilizing an online PDF converter or desktop PDF program will help convert XLSX to PDF in batches with ease.



Charlotte has been in the software industry for 8+ years. She works for AWZWARE now as a passionate writer. She is good at providing simple guides to use various video, office and entertainment software. Charlotte also recommends many other useful tools to make your work and life easier. A food lover too.