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I'm running Windows 7 and Microsoft Office 2003, 2007, 2010 together. I would like to open all .xls files per default with Excel 2003 instead of Excel 2010. How do I do this on Windows 7?

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Why all the versions? – KronoS Sep 24 '10 at 21:21
Because working on many Customer Projects and they all have different Versions. – gsharp Sep 28 '10 at 10:51
up vote 2 down vote accepted

When running multiple versions of Office, the only sure way to specify a "default" version is the order in which you install the programs. Repairing or reinstalling the application will not work.

Start by removing, completely (use RevoUninstaller or similar) all Office apps on your computer.

Then install Office 2010 completely and patch. You will not patch Office 2010 again until you want to set it to default, so patch thoroughly.

Now install Office 2003 and patch.

Selecting .xls files should open 2003 now. As long as you do not have the converter pack installed, .xlsx files should open in 2010.

You may also want to check into disabling the auto-repair function. Word in particular (and Access) check their expected conditions on each start, and one thing they check is whether or not they are the default apps for their expected file types. Disabling the Auto-repair function in Office 2010 will prevent it from repairing itself and thus setting itself as default.

Going forward, do not patch 2010 until you're done with 2003. Patch files will trigger a repair install of the full suite, most likely setting itself as default.

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You'll find the same problem with Adobe products. If you have Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat on the same computer, regardless of what you set as the default file handler, the application thinks it knows better. And since the application itself gives no way to select which of them ought to open the file, you're stuck with unhelpfully helpful programs. – music2myear Jul 27 '11 at 14:17

Just set the .xls file association to the Excel 2003 .exe as per the guide How To Set or Change File Associations in Windows 7 & Vista.

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I only have Office 2010 installed so I can't confirm this directly, but since Office 2007 and later default to the .xlsx file format and Excel 2003 can't read that format, this should work.

  • Click Start
  • Type the word "Default" into the search bar -
  • Click "Default Programs"
  • Second Item in List should be -- Associate a file type or protocal with a program - Select this
  • Scroll through the list of file extensions to .XLS - Click
  • Select "Change Program" on the upper right
  • Browse to the Excel 2003 Executable and click Open.
  • then Click OK.

This should set .xls files to open with Excel 2003 while allowing .xlsx files to open with 2010 by default.

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When I browse for Excel 2003 on Windows 7 and select it as default Application it still opens with 2010 :-/ – gsharp Sep 28 '10 at 10:52

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