Help forcing file to open in client app


I'm having trouble forcing an Excel document to open in the desktop application. This is a spreadsheet that various people across the organization will need to update on a regular basis. Unfortunately, Excel Online struggles to open the file, probably because of a high number of formulas.  To get around this, I want the file to open in Excel desktop by default. Both the site and the document library are set to open in the client application by default but it is still opening in Excel Online. 


In researching this issue, I came across suggestions to use ms-excel:ofe|u|. But I can't get that to work, possibly because I don't understand how to do it. I want to place a link to the spreadsheet in the left-hand navigation. If I open the file in Excel, go to Info, and use the Copy Path function, it gives me the following URL:


So in the site navigation, am I supposed to use the following for the link address:




Because when I do that, I can't save the changes to the navigation. It doesn't give me an error. It just does nothing when I click on Save.  


3 Replies
best response confirmed by 0123456789 (Contributor)



I don't believe there is any way to construct a URL that opens in the client app. I found this response from Microsoft:

Based on our test, we can set the way we open our files stored in SharePoint libraries. We can set it via activating the site collection setting "Open Documents in Client Applications by Default" and we can also change settings in library settings>Advanced Settings>Opening Documents in the Browser to Open in the client application.

Direct links to files will let the people have related permissions open files via Office online apps directly.

It is not feasible to change the way people open files by clicking the direct links. If you have any concern about that, I’d like to suggest you create a new UserVoice to improve our products better for you and others. Appreciate your understanding.



But if your users can access the library location directly, there are a couple of settings you need to confirm. You might need an administrator to do this.


The first setting is on the document library itself. If you go to Library Settings > Advanced Settings, there's an option to tell the library to open documents in the Client Application:


library client.PNG


However, this usually does not do the trick in SharePoint Online, so make sure you/your admin also goes to the Site Collection Settings (OF THE PARENT SITE) and checks for "Open Documents in Client Application by Default":


open clients.PNG


Find that setting and make sure it is ACTIVE. To get to these settings, add /_layouts/15/ManageFeatures.aspx?Scope=Site to the end of your site URL. Like this:




I forgot to specify that this has to be set at the parent/top site level. 


Also, you could possibly work around it by instructing people to choose Open > Open in app from the ellipsis menu on the document:


open in app.png


FYI: none of the settings seem to have any effect on PDFs. If there's a way to force PDFs (stored on SharePoint) to open in a client app rather than the browser, I can't find it! Local download appears to be the only option there.


Hope this helps!

@racrig Thank you! Sorry for the delayed response. For some reason even though I have notifications enabled, I didn't get an email that someone had replied. The site and library settings were correctly configured so the problem appears to be using a direct link to the file in the navigation. I'm just going to ask people to bookmark the URL using the "ms-excel:ofe|u|:https...." format. I've tested this and it works. But thanks for the reminder about being able to choose Open in App from the ellipsis menu. That might come in handy as well.  

@0123456789 Have you tried removing the "?web=1" from the address in your link?