A new, never seen before problem I encountered was when I was helping one of my favourite clients with a new desktop. She would merely double click on any Excel file, and be shown nothing more than the screen below.

Where's my file?

Hm. Though she did find a temporary work-around. Switch to some other application, then switch back, and it would kick in and appear. Searching for this problem I found that others have come across it, though rare. There were some other ways to get the document up, such as minimizing and maximizing. In this case it wasn’t the case, similar enough though.

Here are some troubleshooting steps:

1. Test to see if this is profile related. I noticed after signing in to a different administrator account that it worked fine (with same permissions).

If nothing else works, you have at least the option of creating a new account to fix should this work. I would have thought that this would have been a registry thing, as each user has an Office registry key. I had deleted it completely for her and it still persisted. It must originate somewhere else.

2. Microsoft has a KB article for something similar. One thing to try: open up your excel, click the Office Button and head over to Advanced on the left side menu. Under General on right side, try the opposite of what was in “Ignore other applications that use Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE). It might be wise to restart the system fully before seeing if this fixed anything.

3. If neither work, last resort was to edit the file association. For XP this would be (in explorer/my computer) Tools (Menubar) -> Folder Options -> File Types. Find the extension of the file that refuses to open. Highlight that extension and click Advanced.

Here you will have a variety of commands. The one we want is ‘Open’. Select this and click Edit. You will see an action of &New and a command pointing to Excel.exe with /e and /r arguments. What I did was uncheck ‘Use DDE’ and make the Application path the following:

“C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12\Excel.exe” “%1”

Its a simpler way of telling Excel to open a file.

Hope this has helped! If this is happening on Windows 7 let me know and I can find out how to do it for that system.


  • the advise worked. Thanks 🙂