Why does my Microsoft file not work on other computers?

Dec 16, 2021 | Microsoft Office Hints and Tips

You create this amazing Excel spreadsheet or Word document and then send it to someone else and suddenly everything goes wrong.  But why? 

Every month Microsoft 365 brings in more great features for us to use.  It’s all very exciting until you realise that when you send it to someone else it doesn’t work!! 

The problem with all these updates is that unless you have the same version these lovely extras will not be available and can cause the file to break or stop working the way it should.  There is no way that you will remember what has been added since the last or the last but one version of the Microsoft software and it would be really helpful if you could check if there would be any problems before sending over the file. 

Fortunately, Microsoft has just the tool, the compatibility checker.  It is available in Word, Excel and PowerPoint. 

NOTE: Some of these compatibility features are only available in Excel 

How to access the Compatibility Checker 

  1. Go to the File tab 
  2. Select Info 
  3. Choose Check for Issue and Check Compatibility 
Compatability checker

Select versions to show 

The compatibility checker checks for any compatibility issues all the way back to 1997.  That’s a long time ago!!  In reality, very few people are using this version.  At the time of writing only Office 2019 onwards is supported by Microsoft so in theory earlier versions than this shouldn’t be used, but they are!! 

The Select Versions to Show drop down enables you to make an educated guess as to what versions the person you are sending the file to are likely to be using (or you can always ask) and limit compatibility issue to those versions only. 

New window

Dealing with the Compatibility issues 

All the problems are listed and in Excel Find will jump to the cells(s) where the issue is occurring and Help will open up online help suggesting what you may be able to do to solve the problem.  Find only exists in Excel. 

To see the problems more easily Copy to New Sheet will copy all these details to a new sheet in the workbook which can be particularly useful if there are a lot to deal with. 

Compatability dialog box

Depending on what the compatibility issue is finding a solution could be easy or a nightmare. 

Check compatibility when saving this workbook 

If you are regularly working with people who are using earlier versions you may prefer to get the Compatibility checker dialog box to pop up every time you save so you can keep on top of anything you have just added that may cause a problem. 

Just tick the check box to Check Compatibility when saving this workbook to turn this on. 

Further Reading

If you’ve enjoyed reading about how to check the compatibility of your Microsoft files, there’s some other blogs below that you might find useful:

Want to learn more about Microsoft? Then email lara@laramellortraining.co.uk to discuss how I can help or have a look at the Microsoft Courses I run.