Excel Files Not Opening On Client's Hard Drive

Occasional Contributor

The issue at my company is that after I created a SharePoint Document Library (O365) I have some users reporting that they cannot get any of the Excel files to open on their local drives. They want it to open on their local drives since they have some of analysis functionality they need is only available in the desktop version.

They do not want the Excel files to open via the online app. I also have set up the site to default to the client's software and yet they STILL cannot get Excel to open there. It only opens online for them. Others have no problem. ALL have the same permission access. It's maddening!


Any ideas as to why this is occurring?

9 Replies
Best Response confirmed by TDTooner (Occasional Contributor)
Any errors?
Could they be hitting the 214 file path limit?

@Andrew HodgesNo,..I doubt that strongly. In this case it's more about a few people who are the owners of said Excel files and they constantly update them. Unfortunately for me,...they are the ones that have the problems. It's strange since the site settings have been adjusted such that any file that is clicked on opens on the Client's drive.  I'm just struggling as to what could be different on their systems that could cause this.


Only on one or two occasions has a "corrupted file" message occured. Usually they claim that after they click on the file, just goes nowhere. Nothing happens.


Maybe its more to do with their Excel settings....not sure. 

Hi @TDTooner ,


Large Excel files have been one of our biggest pains on a few projects. 


Some we have had to change to SharePoint lists due to the co-working not being great for large files and changes not getting saved. 

@TDTooner Are the users that are having this issue external users in AzureAD?  I've seen this behavior before but only with external users.

@JoshMcClanahan  No. Basically,'s used by our entire company. The users I'm referring to (like all of our employees) utilize the basic sign on when we are accessing SharePoint for the first time each day. It's the same credentials that we use to log in to our PC's in the AM each day. Once we do that,..we are basically in. The users are all part of our company. They are not external users.


Quite often now some report that they see the following error when they try and access an Excel file. It ONLY happens with Excel files and not Word or PowerPoint and yet not all Excel files.

I have attached the error screen below. Note: The 4 bullets that the error mentions are not applicable to the Excel files in question. They all seem to check ok. I'm either stumped or just plain stupid.

@Andrew HodgesAndrew,...I decided to go back again and really dig deep into this and wanted to be sure to tell you that you were SPOT ON!!!!!! THANK YOU! They had put the files 3 folders deep and yes they exceeded the character limit. 


Why is there a limit? I mean we did create a workaround and all is good now but why is there a limit and is there a way to change that??? Just curious.

Hi @TDTooner ,


Its a legacy thing from excel, Excel on the desktop will not open files greater than 218 characters. That message is exactly the ones we are seeing when this issue is hit.  Excel online has a 400 char limit but the functionality is not 100% and large spreadsheets with many authors just do not work, so users open them on the desktop and this issue is hit. Word and PowerPoint have a 400 limit on the desktop so its just excel (assuming Win10)


If you are happy with the answer please mark as best response. 

@Andrew HodgesI certainly did mark your answer as the best response.  Thank you again! And thanks again for the explanation!  You are a HERO with my group at the office!  I feel so dumb for not thinking about the character limit. I guess because PowerPoint and Word files were located in the same folder and they were working, I dismissed the limit being the cause. Never would have guessed.


They need to fix that but it's something I can fight with Microsoft at a later date. Meanwhile we simply worked around it and all is GREAT again.

Hi @TDTooner ,


I don't get called a hero often! 


You should have seen how long it took us to figure this one out in the first place, a fair bit if testing but as with anything it seems obvious as soon as you know. 


You may get the scenario where a file will work on one users desktop and not another, still the char limit if they get that message, it is just that one user's name or path is different so hits the limit on one and not the other.