Top 3 ways to compress an Excel file

Excel files can become extremely big and are very difficult to share. If you've already tried our online service WeCompress or our NXPowerLite Desktop software and the files cannot be reduced then we've found that these files normally drop into 3 categories. Below is an explanation of each and also some suggestions as to how you can reduce Excel file sizes.

  1. The file contains only data elements

    This sounds ridiculous, but sometimes Excel files are just large. The more information in an Excel file the larger it will get. However, these files usually compress really well with traditional zip compression, even if the file is in the newer XML formats (xlsx, xlsm, xlsb, xltx, xltm)

    Try compressing the file by following these steps:

    • (Windows) Right-click the file and choose the 'Send to...' option and then choose compressed (zipped) folder

    It will change the file format to a zip (.xlsx > .zip) file but we've seen a significant reduction in file sizes using this method.

  2. Excessive rows are created when formatting

    Formatting cells on your worksheet can make the right information easy to see at a glance, but formatting cells that aren't being used (especially entire rows and columns) can cause your workbook's file size to grow quickly. This can slow down not just Excel, but the overall performance of your computer when you have an excessively formatted worksheet open. Excessive formatting can also cause printing problems in Excel.

    Use the Clean Excess Cell Formatting command, available on Excel's Inquire tab in Microsoft Office 365 and Office Professional Plus 2013. If you don't see the Inquire tab in Excel, do the following to enable the Inquire add-in:

      • In Excel Click File > Options > Add-Ins
      • Make sure COM Add-ins is selected in the Manage box, and click Go
      • In the COM Add-Ins box, check Inquire, and then click OK. The Inquire tab should now be visible in the ribbon.

        Important: You may want to make a backup copy of your file before cleaning the excess cell formatting because there are certain cases where this process may make your file increase in size, and there is no way to undo the change.

    To remove the excess formatting in the current worksheet, do the following:

      • On the Inquire tab, click Clean Excess Cell Formatting
      • Choose whether to clean only the active worksheet or all worksheets. After excess formatting has been cleared, click Yes to save changes to the sheets or No to cancel.

  3. XLS files should be XLSX files
    Sometimes it is necessary to save Excel files in the older binary (xls) format. This can work well for compatibility with people who are using older versions of office (not that many people nowadays). Saving the file in the newer format can save a huge amount of space.

    To save as XLSX

    • Open file
    • Click File > Save as...
    • In the drop-down at the bottom select Excel Workbook (*.xlsx)



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