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Mac OS X Tip: Can’t Open Excel files gives read-only error

June 9th, 2009 admin No comments

This has become a floating issue we have seen out on Internet blogs and fourms.

The issue is users who try to open an Excel document on their Mac OS X (Desktop or Laptop) may get the following error:

‘test.xlsx’ cannot be accessed.

The file may be read only, or you may be trying to access a read-only
location. Or, the server the document is stored on may not be

Many websites and individuals have been saying that it’s a corrupted file that can be recovered with recovery software that must be purchased (demo-trial for most are available, but it’s limited).  This doesn’t resolve their issues and waiting for what the resolution could be.  We use Mac Pro systems running Office 2008 with two Hard Drives.  We were experiencing this exact issue.  We thought it was permissions related, however, that wasn’t true because we were able to access other files (with different extensions) without any issues.  This includes Word and PowerPoint.

When we move the Excel file to another hard drive we are able to open the file.  So it’s not a corrupted file issue.

Next, we created a new Excel file and saved it to our desktop area.  Copied the file to the other hard drive and the same issue occurred.  Opening the new file on my desktop area worked fine.

So, I concluded that there is some type of bug with Excel on a Mac since Word and PowerPoint doesn’t experience the same issue.

Now, what are ways to resolve this issue …

Before you go down the recovery path, which is likely not the cause if you attempted the things we did.  Below reflects some possible methods.  Method 1, worked for us!

Resolutions Methods:

1) When you have more than one hard drive on your computer the label for each drive may read “Macintosh HD”.  Our systems have two hard drives and both are labeled that way.  You need to change the Volume name of your second hard-drive.  Determine which of the two is the Start-Up Drive and DO NOT change that.  Change the Volume name for the other hard drive.  You can do this by going to “Get Info” on a right click.

Once we changed the volume name, we didn’t experience any more issues with opening Excel files.

2) Another method that has worked for some people, but not for us.  That is to remove all of the files listed under /Users/<username>/Library/Preferences/Microsoft

3) Worst case try to recovery the Excel file and it’s permissions by software to be purchased.  Only do this if you can’t open the file on any hard drive or computer.  If the file does open it’s not necessarily corrupted.

Good luck!

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