What Is an XLSM File?

How to open, edit, and convert XLSM files

A file with the XLSM file extension is an Excel Macro-Enabled Workbook file created in Excel 2007 or newer.

XLSM files are actually identical to Microsoft Excel Open XML Format Spreadsheet (XLSX) files with the only difference being that XLSM files will execute embedded macros that are programmed in the Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) language.

Just like with XLSX files, Microsoft's XLSM file format uses XML architecture and ZIP compression to store things like text and formulas into cells that are organized into rows and columns. These rows and columns can be cataloged into separate sheets within a single XLSM workbook.

XLSM files in Windows 10

How to Open an XLSM File

XLSM files have the potential to store and execute destructive, malicious code through macros. Take great care when opening executable file formats like this that you 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.

Microsoft Excel (version 2007 and above) is the primary software program used to open XLSM files and edit XLSM files. XLSM files can be used in older versions of Excel, too, but only if you install the free Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack.

You can use XLSM files without Excel with free programs like OpenOffice Calc and WPS Office Spreadsheets. Another example of a free Microsoft Office alternative that lets you edit and save back to the XLSM format is Microsoft Excel Online.

Google Sheets is another way you can open and edit an XLSM file online. Details for how to do that are below.

Quattro Pro, a part of Corel WordPerfect Office, supports XLSM files, too, but it's not free. OfficeSuite Professional for Android and iOS is another way to work with XLSM files, but they're also not freeware apps.

How to Convert an XLSM File

The best way to convert an XLSM file is to open it in one of the XLSM editors above, and then save the open file to another format. For example, an XLSM file opened with Excel can be converted to XLSX, XLS, PDF, HTM, CSV, and other formats.

Another way to convert an XLSM file is to use a free file converter. One way to do that online is with FileZigZag, which supports the conversion of XLSM to many of the same formats supported by Microsoft Excel, but also XLSM to ODS, XLT, TXT, XHTML, and some less common ones like OTS, VOR, STC, and UOS.

XLSM files can also be converted to a format usable with Google Sheets, which is Google's online spreadsheet program. To do this, you need to log in to your Google account (it's the same login information you use to access Gmail, YouTube, Google Photos, etc.) or make a new Google account if you don't already have one.

  1. Upload the XLSM file to your Google Drive account through the New > File upload option. Choose Folder upload instead if you need to upload an entire folder of XLSM files.

    Google Drive upload options
  2. Right-click the XLSM file in Google Drive and choose Open with > Google Sheets.

    Open XLSM file in Google Sheets
  3. The XLSM file will automatically convert to a format that lets you read and use the file with Google Sheets.

Both the original file and the converted one now exist in your Google Drive account. The one that can be edited in Google Sheets is identified by a green icon with an off-centered white cross.

You can even use Google Sheets to convert an XLSM file to a different format. With the file open in Google Sheets, go to File > Download as to download the XLSM file as an XLSX, ODS, PDF, HTML, CSV, or TSV file.

More Information on XLSM Files

Macros in XLSM files won't run by default because Excel disables them. Microsoft has an explanation on enabling and disabling macros in Office files if you need help.

An Excel file with a similar file extension is the XLSMHTML file, which is similar to XLS files but is an Archived MIME HTML spreadsheet file used with older versions of Excel to show the spreadsheet data in HTML. Newer versions of Excel use MHTML or MHT to publish Excel documents to HTML.

XLSX files can contain macros as well but Excel will not use them unless the file is in this XLSM format.