How to Open an XLSM File: A Step-by-Step Guide

Opening an XLSM file is a simple process that requires a compatible program such as Microsoft Excel. An XLSM file is an Excel Macro-Enabled Workbook, which means it’s an Excel spreadsheet that can run macros—automations or tasks in Excel. To open an XLSM file, you will need to enable macros, which could pose a security risk if the file is from an untrusted source. Once the file is opened and macros are enabled, you can view and edit the spreadsheet like any other Excel file.

After opening an XLSM file, you will have access to all the data and macros within the file. You can use the macros to automate repetitive tasks, which can save time and improve efficiency when working with large data sets.


XLSM files are not your typical Excel spreadsheets. They come with a powerful feature – macros! Macros are small programs that run within Excel and can automate tasks, save time, and enhance the functionality of your spreadsheet. But with great power comes great responsibility, and in the case of XLSM files, that means understanding how to open and manage them safely and effectively.

This topic is important for anyone who deals with data on a regular basis, especially in a professional or business context. Whether you’re a financial analyst, an administrative assistant, or a project manager, knowing how to handle XLSM files can make your work more efficient and accurate. It’s also crucial for those who are not as tech-savvy – because let’s face it, not everyone is an Excel wizard, and that’s okay! This article aims to demystify the process and provide a simple guide for opening XLSM files.

Step by Step Tutorial on How to Open an XLSM File

Before diving into the steps, it’s important to note that this tutorial will help you safely open and enable macros in an XLSM file, allowing you to use the full range of features in the workbook.

Step 1: Ensure You Have a Compatible Program

To open an XLSM file, you need a program that supports this format.

Most recent versions of Microsoft Excel are fully capable of opening XLSM files. If you do not have Excel, alternative programs like Google Sheets or OpenOffice may work, although they could have some limitations when it comes to macros.

Step 2: Open the File

Locate the XLSM file on your computer and double-click it to open.

Double-clicking the file should launch your preferred spreadsheet program, and the file should open. If it doesn’t, you might need to right-click the file, select “Open with,” and choose the appropriate program.

Step 3: Enable Macros

If your XLSM file has macros, you’ll be prompted to enable them.

Excel often opens files with macros disabled by default as a security measure. You’ll need to enable them by clicking “Enable Content” or “Enable Macros” on the security warning that appears. Be sure only to enable macros from trusted sources to avoid potential security risks.


Automates TasksMacros can perform repetitive tasks automatically, saving you time and effort.
Enhances FunctionalityWith macros, you can add custom functionality to your spreadsheets that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.
Improves EfficiencyMacros can process large data sets quickly, helping you get your work done faster and more efficiently.


Security RisksMacros can contain malicious code, so there’s a risk if the file is from an untrusted source.
Compatibility IssuesSome programs may not support XLSM files or may not handle macros well, which can limit your options.
Learning CurveCreating and understanding macros can be complex, which might be challenging for beginners.

Additional Information

When working with XLSM files, it’s crucial to understand the risks and rewards. Macros can be a double-edged sword – they can significantly boost your productivity but can also be a source of security threats. Always ensure that you trust the source of the XLSM file before enabling macros.

Another tip is to familiarize yourself with Excel’s security settings. You can set Excel to disable all macros, disable with notification, or enable all macros. Choose the setting that best suits your needs and level of risk tolerance. Additionally, consider learning some basic macro coding. This could help you better understand how macros work and how to use them effectively in your spreadsheets.

Lastly, don’t forget to save your work regularly, especially if you’re running complex macros that could potentially crash the program. Now, go forth and conquer those XLSM files like a pro!


  1. Ensure You Have a Compatible Program
  2. Open the File
  3. Enable Macros

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an XLSM file?

An XLSM file is an Excel spreadsheet that includes macros—small programs that automate tasks within the spreadsheet.

Can I open an XLSM file in Google Sheets?

You can open an XLSM file in Google Sheets, but you may not be able to run or edit macros.

Is it safe to enable macros?

If the XLSM file is from a trusted source, it is generally safe to enable macros. However, be cautious with files from unknown sources as macros can contain harmful code.

Can I create macros in an XLSM file?

Yes, if you have a compatible program like Microsoft Excel, you can create and edit macros in an XLSM file.

What should I do if Excel doesn’t open my XLSM file?

If Excel doesn’t open your XLSM file automatically, try opening Excel first, then use the “Open” option within the program to navigate to and open the file.


Opening an XLSM file doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With the right tools and knowledge, anyone can do it. Remember to be cautious with macros, especially from unknown sources, as they can pose security risks. But also, don’t shy away from the power of macros – they can take your data management to the next level.

Keep exploring, learning, and don’t forget to save your work. If you ever get stuck, there are plenty of resources and communities out there to help you sort out your XLSM files. Happy Excel-ing!

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