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How can we improve Excel for Windows (Desktop Application)?

Increase the 218 character filename length limit to open files in excel

Excel can't open files with full path lengths greater than 218 characters as documented in This is still a problem in Office 2016. It seems crazy that Excel can't open a valid file that the filesystem allows. People have been complaining about this since Office 2000. The thread below has over 11 thousand views and there are plenty others. Please fix this.

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  • Roy commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    They limit it so as to keep the files theoretically findable and openable/delvable by formulas in the program itself.

    Windows itself can allow 32767 characters if one sets it that way. Excel is interdicting the operation. Why not change it to allow any old path length? Bet it's tied up in a kludge that involves still maintaining some 8-bit limit that impacts other things too.

    Why not fix those? Well... might as well ask why some functions can reach into a closed file and obtain data and why some can't. Literally. My wager is some use the old methods associated with this problem and CAN do it, while along the way someone added a new approach and the ones that cannot reach in are written using the new approach. Or maybe the other way around makes more sense.

    Hopefully they really mean the "PLANNED' thing instead of it ending up like a couple others aging like a Hollywood starlet. Seems like this would be a fairly simple change and the only downside going forward would be that the functions that would no longer reach into files would seem to fail to do that for some unknown reason. Or maybe it's all upside, if all of them now would. Old limited paths would work fine in a larger setting, so there's no obvious downside there.

    So, one hopes...

  • Andreas commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    It's pathetic. You can save on a temp folder with shorter path length and copy to the destination folder. No issues. Open and save the file on the destination folder. No issues. Why then does SaveAs not work??

  • Chris McGuinn commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Admin/[company name (4 characters)]/Proposals/2019/03-March/[xx-xxxx - Client and Job Description]/[xx-xxxx - Job/Proposal Description]. The job/proposal description can exceed 70 characters alone (including spaces, not sure if each space is considered 3 characters [%20]). This is a required file/folder naming structure by some of our worldwide clients and it's been fine for over 2 decades with in-house servers/NAS. But, as I said also, once you start adding the SharePoint directory length it easily goes over the limit. Our average in-house length is between 175-200 for our more extensive jobs.

    Once again... OneDrive and SharePoint Online have already increased their file length to 400 characters. Definitely not a stretch requesting their Office products to do the same. And I don't see us ever getting to a 400 character limit. Our most extensive one was right around 300

  • Roy commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    No. But thanks for thinking I might be.

    Are you an a**hole? Walk like a "duck"... talk like a "duck"... people might think so...

  • Roy commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Mr. McGuinn!

    You are a troublemaker! Me, me, me!

    OTHER people don't have this problem! (One lives in Texas, about 40 miles west of Dallas, the other lives in Idaho, sorry, no references there to be miles outside of, it's just a lot of empty.)

    If those two can handle working with the limitation, surely the other 800 million of us, you included sir, can do so as well.

    Bring back America's CAN DO attitude! No more of CAN DON'T. That doesn't even make sense! How can you "don't"??? Note, a CAN DO attitude does not apply to monopolies or big bullies. So do not judge MS, lest ye be judged! Oh, well, judged again?

    Remember the successful two who firmly believe that Apple does not have directories and structure hiding somewhere, and that Windows can work with everything in the single directory they call "root." Just put every little thing in the root directory and you can easily let SharePoint consume almost any number of characters and still save your file!

    It's so simple. I mean "simple" like in "otherwise mentally enabled" not like in "easy", of course, but still simple! No further need for "wishful thinking" or "improvements"!

  • Chris McGuinn commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Pleeeease bring this out ASAP. It really is quite ridiculous this is a limitation nowadays. I convinced my engineering firm to migrate to SharePoint Online and during our test of 2/5 drives, it was nothing but problems with Excel trying to save documents (seems like Excel has the lowest limit). Especially when +/- 50 characters of that 218 limit are consumed with the SharePoint location before even getting to our in-house directories. How do you expect companies to take advantage of SharePoint Online when this is still an issue AND you've increased it already for OneDrive/SharePoint Online??

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I would also like to know when this feature is coming. We need it here because the limit is a huge showstopper for an ongoing migration.

  • CB commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    David....can you provide us with "when" the character issue will be resolved? Is it listed somewhere on MS Roadmap view that we can track?

  • Dinesh Kumar commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Below Sebastin's comment resolved my problem as well.

    Map the destination folder as Drive in your computer and rename the file to shorter name

    I have a way to solve: I map my own C drive as a mapped drive, but lower in the folder hierarchy.
    Map drive \\computername\c$\Users\Box_sync\Loooooooong_name so the path look smaller for exce

  • Mil commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Thanks David, this issue has been faced by many for years and to hear this is finally going to be worked on is great news. Can you please provide a timeframe?

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I haven't read all of the comments below, just the last few, but when I had this problem, re-saving the file in XLSX format allowed me to open the file.

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    @David, could you elaborate on what you have planned? Are you increasing limit or eliminating the header/identifier characters from the count? If increasing max characters then what is the new target limit? We are going through considerable effort to reduce file paths with our business users and the moving target is frustrating and delaying our efforts to migrate legacy data to Sharepoint Online.

  • Jon B commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    See, the problem is that lots of us have been using an existing file structure for years and gradually settled into some compromise of reasonably short file names and reasonably short nesting path structures, that fit into the (absurd) existing 218 character structure. But now lots of us are being pushed to go to OneDrive. If we do that, whatever folder structures we have now effectively get that OneDrive identifier nonsense (30-40 characters) appended to the start of each of our paths, and suddenly our carefully thought out file structures don't work anymore!! So all of us have to shrink our paths again, and that is why all of us are screaming.
    Come on. Add another 256 characters. (Or eliminate the limit altogether).

  • Vivienne commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    PLEASE NOTE: this issue is not limited to Excel. It effects all MS Office files.

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