What to Know
- An XLSB file is an Excel binary workbook file.
- Open one with Excel Viewer, Excel, or WPS Office Spreadsheet.
- Convert to XLSX, CSV, and others with some of those programs or other spreadsheet software.
This article describes what XLSB files are, how they're different than other Excel formats, how to open one, and how to convert one to various other formats like PDF, CSV, XLSX, etc.
What Is an XLSB File?
An XLSB file is an Excel binary workbook file. They store information in binary format instead of XML like with most other Excel files (e.g., XLSX).
Since XLSB files are binary, they can be read from and written to much faster, making them extremely useful for very large spreadsheets. When dealing with big spreadsheets, you might also notice smaller file sizes when using XLSB vs XLSX.
XLSB files store spreadsheet data just like any other Excel workbook format. Workbooks can contain multiple worksheets, and within each worksheet is a collection of cells organized by rows and columns where text, images, charts, and formulas can exist.
How to Open an XLSB File
Microsoft Office Excel (version 2007 and newer) is the primary software program used to open and edit XLSB files. If you have an earlier version of Excel, you can still open, edit, and save XLSB files with it, but you have to install the free Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack first.
It’s possible for an XLSB file to have macros embedded in it, which have the potential to store malicious code. It’s important to take great care when opening executable file formats like this that you may have received via email or downloaded from websites you’re not familiar with. See our List of Executable File Extensions for a listing of file extensions to avoid and why.
If you don’t have any versions of Microsoft Office, you can use WPS Office Spreadsheet, OpenOffice Calc or LibreOffice Calc to open XLSB files.
Microsoft’s free Excel Viewer lets you open and print XLSB files without needing Excel. Just keep in mind that you can’t make any changes to the file and then save it back to the same format—you’ll need the full Excel program for that.
XLSB files are stored using ZIP compression, so while you can use a free file zip/unzip utility to “open” the file, doing so won’t let you read or edit it like the programs from above can do.
How to Convert an XLSB File
If you have Excel or Calc, the easiest way to convert an XLSB file is to open the file in the program and then save it back to your computer in another format.
Some file formats supported by these programs include XLSX, XLS, XLSM, CSV, PDF, and TXT.
XLSB Files and Macros
The XLSB format is similar to XLSM—both can embed and run macros if Excel has macro capabilities turned on.
However, an important thing to understand is that XLSM is a macro-specific file format. In other words, the "M' at the end of the file extension indicates that the file may or may not contain macros, while it's non-macro counterpart XLSX can also have macros but is unable to run them.
XLSB, on the other hand, is much like XLSM in that it can be used to store and run macros, but there isn't a macro-free format like there is with XLSM.
All this really means is that it's not as easily understood whether or not a macro may exist in the XLSM format, so it's important to understand where the file came from to ensure that it isn't loading harmful macros.
More Help With XLSB Files
If your file won't open with the programs suggested above, the very first thing you should check is that the file extension for your file actually does read as ".XLSB" and not just something that looks similar. It's really easy to confuse other file formats with XLSB given that their extensions look alike.
For example, you might really be dealing with an XLB file which doesn’t open the same way in Excel or OpenOffice. Follow that link to learn more about those files.
XSB files are similar in how their file extension is spelled, but they're really XACT Sound Bank files that have nothing to do with Excel or spreadsheets in general. Instead, these Microsoft XACT files reference sound files and describe when they should be played during a video game.
Another to be careful with is XLR. Depending on the age of the file, it might not open in Excel at all.
If you don't have an XLSB file and that's why it's not working with the programs mentioned on this page, then research the file extension you do have so that you can find out which program or website can open or convert your file.