XLSB File Type

Are your Excel files too big? Are they taking too long to open and save them? Are you looking for a spreadsheet that understands the binary language of moisture vaporators? Star Wars jokes aside, you might want to give the xlsb file type a try, these are Excel’s Binary Workbook format and were introduced in Excel 2007. They store data in binary rather than XML like other excel file types (.xls, .xlsm and .xlsx). As a result they are much quicker to read (open) or write (save) by your computer and the file size is generally much smaller.



What’s so great about these files?

  • Smaller File Sizes – I usually see about 30% reduction in file size when compared to xlsx or xlsm type files.
  • Supports VBA/Macros – similar to xlsm and xls files the xlsb type is also VBA/macro enabled.
  • Open and Save Quicker – computers speak binary, so it makes sense that they will be able to read and write these much quicker since it’s already in their language and they don’t need to translate it first. This results in files opening and saving up to 2x faster. Calculations don’t actually run quicker in xlsb, just opening a saving.
  • Support Long Formulas – formula above 8192 characters won’t save properly in other Excel file types, however they will in xlsb type Excel files.


What’s not so great about these files?

  • Security – Like xlsm type files, they are VBA/macro enabled, so there is a potential security risk with malicious VBA procedures that will run when the workbook is opened.
  • Compatibility – They are not compatible with Excel 2003 or previous versions.


How to create an xlsb file?



Save a file as xlsb by using Save As.

  1. Click on the Save as type to active the drop down menu.
  2. Select Excel Binary Workbook.
  3. Press the Save button.


Your workbook is now an xlsb type file.


About the Author

John MacDougall

John MacDougall

John is a Microsoft MVP and qualified actuary with over 15 years of experience. He has worked in a variety of industries, including insurance, ad tech, and most recently Power Platform consulting. He is a keen problem solver and has a passion for using technology to make businesses more efficient.


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