How to Read an XLS File Without Excel

Microsoft Excel, the most popular electronic spreadsheet program currently in use, automates much tedious number crunching and produces files in XLS format. To open such files in the past, you typically needed the program itself, which could be expensive. However, today, these files can be read and revised with free alternatives such as Google Docs.

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Google Docs can access XLS files

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Use your favorite browser and go to the Google Docs website. The link is in References.

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Google Docs page

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Register for a Google account if you don't have one by clicking on the "Get Started" button. Otherwise, enter your Google account name and password and click the "Sign In" button. The Google Docs page will appear.

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Click the "Upload" button, which is the second button on the blue menu bar near the top. The "Upload" page will appear.

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Click the "Browse" button to display a file dialogue box.

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Search for the file you need. To limit your search to XLS files, type that extension in the "File Name" box using the form "*.XLS" and click the "Open" button.

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Double-click the file you want to close the dialogue box. The file name and its path appear in the "Browse" box of the page.

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XLS file opened

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Click the "Upload File" button. The XLS file opens in the spreadsheet window of Google Docs.

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Change the file as needed.

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Save the file in the Google Docs website, as needed, by choosing the "Save & Close" option of the "File" menu. Google Docs returns to its main page and shows the file list with the saved file under its original XLS file name.

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Save the changed file in XLS format, as needed, by choosing "Export" from the "File" menu and then ".XLS" from the pop-up. A dialogue box will appear.

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Click the "Save File" option and then the "OK" button. A standard file dialogue box will appear.

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Navigate to the folder in which you want to store the file. Enter a new name under "File Name" and select "Microsoft Excel Worksheet" in the "File of Type" drop-down.

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Click the "OK" button to save the file and close the dialogue box.