"Do you want to download the converter" error when trying to open a file in Word, Excel, or PowerPoint

Original KB number:   967950

Note

This issue doesn't apply to Office 2013 and newer versions as they support the standard Open XML formats. For more information, see Open XML Formats and file name extensions.

Note

Support for Office 2010 ended on October 13, 2020. This means that Microsoft no longer provides technical support, bug fixes, or security updates, and customers that continue to use them may face increased security risks and compliance issues over time. Microsoft recommends customers update to either Microsoft 365 Apps or Office LTSC 2021. For more information, see Support for Office 2010—and Office 2016 for Mac—has ended: Here's what you need to know - Microsoft 365 Blog.

Symptoms

When you try to open a file (.docx, .xlsx, or .pptx) in Word 2010, Excel 2010, or PowerPoint 2010, you see one of the following error messages:

This file was created by a newer version of Microsoft Excel and a converter is needed to open it. Do you want to download the converter from the Microsoft Office Web site?

This file cannot be opened by using Microsoft Excel. Do you want to search the Microsoft Office Online Web site for a converter that can open the file?

Note

The above messages are displayed when you try to open an Excel file. When you try to open a Word or PowerPoint file, the product names in the message are replaced accordingly.

Cause

The file you're trying to open (.docx, .xlsx, or .pptx) may have been created by a third-party (non-Microsoft) software product in compliance with the International Standard ISO/IEC 29500 Office Open XML (OOXML). However, Word 2010, Excel 2010, and PowerPoint 2010 (as well as Word 2007, Excel 2007, and PowerPoint 2007) don't support all ISO/IEC 29500 standards.

Resolution

To resolve this issue, follow the steps below.

  1. Go to the Microsoft Download Center to download and install the OOXML Strict Converter for Office 2010.

  2. Open the file again in Word 2010, Excel 2010, or PowerPoint 2010.

  3. Select Open when the following message appears:

    Screenshot of the selecting the Open button.

  4. When the file opens, select Save As to save the file in the Word 2010, Excel 2010, or PowerPoint 2010 default format.

    Note

    If you are still experiencing issues after running this procedure, see the following Office Blog for additional resources that may be useful:

More information

A Word document (.docx), Excel workbook (.xlsx), or PowerPoint presentation (.pptx) can be created by non-Microsoft software products by using the standards that are outlined by ISO/IEC 29500. Therefore, Office versions released after the 2007 Microsoft Office suite Service Pack 2 (SP2) have supported many of the requirements of the ISO/IEC 29500 standard. However, not all of the standards are supported in Microsoft Office.

For more information about the adoption of the ISO 29500 standard by Microsoft, see Microsoft Expands List of Formats Supported in Microsoft Office.