Disable the Excel Compatibility Checker

I've received several comments on my blog that people dislike Excel 2007's Compatibility Checker, and would like to turn it off globally. While it's true that you can turn it off for each workbook, the main user interface seems devoid of a way to actually tell Excel that you never want to check your workbooks for compatibility when saving to 2003 or earlier versions.

This issue seems to hit me most when trying to an Excel 2007 workbook that uses conditional formats or colours (colors) back into the Excel 2003 file format.

The add-in attached gets half way to accomplishing the job. I knocked this up very quickly, so it can almost certainly be improved. If anyone wants to give it a go, I'd happily host an updated version and give you credit.

Now, I said I'd got half way..

The attached add-in will disable the compatibility checker on all .xls files that you attempt to save. What it won't catch is new files that have not been saved as Excel workbooks yet. So if you create a brand new workbook and hit save, you'll see the interface like the following:

Save it again immediately, and you won't get the message any more.

Please note that this add-in has received very limited testing. Comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome, just leave a comment here!

To install it:

  • Download the file
  • Unzip the file and save the addin on your computer
  • Go to Office Menu-->Excel Options-->Add-ins-->Go-->Browse
  • Navigate to the file and select it
  • Make sure the box is checked next to "Disable Compatibility Checker" and click OK

That's it. No visible changes to the UI. Test it out by saving a workbook in .xls format that has some colours or conditional formats in it.

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