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Using New File Types in Excel 2010

Excel 2010 offers support for four file types. Macros are not allowed to be stored in the default file type. You have to use the Save As setting for all of your macro workbooks, or you can change the default file type used by Excel 2010.

The available files types are as follows:

  • Excel Workbook (.xlsx)—Files are stored as a series of XML objects and then zipped into a single file. This new file-saving paradigm in Excel 2010 allows for significantly smaller file sizes. It also allows other applications (even Notepad!) to edit or create Excel workbooks. Unfortunately, macros cannot be stored in files with an .xlsx extension.
  • Excel Macro-Enabled Workbook (.xlsm)—This is similar to the default .xlsx format, except macros are allowed. The basic concept is that if someone has an .xlsx file, he or she will not need to worry about malicious macros. However, if they see an .xlsm file, they should be concerned that there might be macros attached.
  • Excel Binary Workbook (.xlsb)—This is a binary format designed to handle the larger 1.1-million-row grid size in Excel 2010. Legacy versions of Excel stored their files in a proprietary binary format. Although binary formats might load quicker, they are more prone to corruption, and a few lost bits can destroy the whole file. Macros are allowed in this format.
  • Excel 97-2003 Workbook (.xls)—This format produces files that can be read by anyone using legacy versions of Excel. Macros are allowed in this binary format; however, when you save in this format, you lose access to any cells outside of A1:IV65536. In addition, if someone opens the file in Excel 2003, he or she will lose access to anything that used features introduced in Excel 2007 or later.

To avoid having to choose a macro-enabled workbook in the Save As dialog, you can customize your copy of Excel to always save new files in the .xlsm format by following these steps:

  1. Click the File menu and select Excel Options.
  2. In the Excel Options dialog, select the Save category from the left navigation pane.
  3. The first drop-down is Save Files in This Format. Open the drop-down and select Excel Macro-Enabled Workbook (*.xlsm). Click OK.
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