What is an XLK File?

Did you come across an XLK Excel file extension and now wondering what it means?

I have been using Excel for more than ten years now, and I’ve recently learned about it.

Let me tell you all about this mysterious XLK file.

What is an XLK File?

An XLK file is a backup file created by Microsoft Excel that you can use to restore data if an Excel file is lost or corrupted.

These backup files have a .xlk extension and are intended to provide a safety net in case the original Excel files become corrupted, lost, or otherwise unusable.

However, it’s worth noting that the XLK file format isn’t universally used in modern versions of Excel.

In older versions, the backup feature would often generate these .xlk files, but newer versions tend to rely more on autosaving and version history to maintain backups.

Note:  XLK files are meant to be managed by Microsoft Excel as part of its backup functionality and cannot be edited or opened directly by users.

Benefits of XLK Files

Creating backup copies of your work is advisable when working with Excel files, especially those containing large amounts of data.

While Excel has an AutoRecover feature, it’s essential to have backup copies in case of file corruption or data archiving needs.

The following are additional benefits of XLK backup files:

  • Data recovery: You can use the XLK file to recover unsaved data in the case of a system crash or power outage.
  • Workbook restoration: If the original Excel workbook is lost or damaged, you can use the XLK file to restore it.
  • Time-saving: Excel creates the XLK files automatically, saving time and effort that you would have spent on manual backups.
  • Peace of mind: A backup copy of your Excel file provides peace of mind if something goes wrong.

It’s essential to remember that while automatic XLK backups are helpful, they can also consume storage space over time. It’s wise to regularly check and manage backup files to prevent excessive disk usage.

Some users want more control over their backups and opt to create them manually or use external backup options for more flexibility and customization.

Also read: XLS vs. XLSX Files – What’s the Difference?

How to Create an XLK Backup File

By default, Excel does not generate XLK backup files.

If you wish to have Excel automatically create an XLK backup file when you save an Excel file, you must enable the “Always create backup” option on the “Save As” feature. To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Click “File” on the Ribbon to open the Backstage window.
Click the file tab in the ribbon
  1. Select “Save As” on the left sidebar and “Browse” on the right pane and navigate to the folder where you want to store the file.
Click on browse to navigate to the folder where you want to store the file
  1. On the “Tools” drop-down at the bottom of the “Save As” feature, select “General Options.”
Click on general options in the tools dropdown
  1. On the “General Options” dialog box that appears, select the “Always create backup” option and click “OK.”
Check always create backup

Note: You can turn off the “Always create backup” option in Excel if you don’t want it to save a backup file automatically.

  1. Click “Save” on the “Save As” feature.

From now on, when you save the Excel file, Excel will generate an XLK backup file, as shown below:

Backup XLK file is created

Note: When you now save the Excel file, Excel automatically creates an XLK file in the same location as the original file. The XLK file is only generated after saving the original file and is saved on top of the original file.

Excel adds the phrase “Backup of” before the original file’s name. For example, an XLK backup of an Excel file named “Desktops USB Ports.xlsx” is called “Backup of Desktops USB Ports.xlk.”

Also read: XLTX vs. XLSX – Difference and Similarities

How to Open an XLK Backup File

This tutorial section shows you three methods to open an XLK backup file.

Method #1: Open in Microsoft Excel

Excel has native support for XLK files. Therefore, you can open an XLK file directly in Excel using the following steps:

  1. Open a blank Excel file and click “File” on the Ribbon to open the Backstage window.
Click the file tab in the ribbon
  1. Click “Open” on the left sidebar and “Browse” on the right pane and navigate to the folder where the XLK backup file is stored.
Click on the browse option
  1. Select the XLK file and click “Open.”
Select the XLK file to open
  1. Click “Yes” on the warning message box.
Click on the yes option
  1. You can save the file in different formats, such as XLSX, XLSM, and XLSB, according to your preference.
Also read: How to Open DAT Files in Excel?

Method #2: Rename the File Extension to XLSX and Open the File in Excel

You can open an XLK backup file in Excel by changing the file extension to XLSX.

We use the following steps:

  1. Right-click the Windows Start button and click “File Explorer” on the context menu.
Click on file explorer
  1. On the “View” tab, select the “File name extensions” option on the “Show/Hide” group.
select the File name extensions option
  1. Move to the folder where the XLK file is stored. Right-click the file and choose “Rename” on the context menu.
Rename the backup XLK file
  1. Highlight the “xlk” extension and type “xlsx.”
change XLK to XLSX
  1. Press Enter and click “Yes” on the warning message box.
Click on the yes button
  1. Double-click the renamed file; the data will open in an Excel workbook.
Also read: How to Open VCF File in Excel?

Method #3: Use Apache OpenOffice Calc

Using the freeware OpenOffice Calc, you can open and convert XLK files to other formats like XLS and CSV.

Note: In this method, I will show you how to open an XLK file using OpenOffice. The same steps can also be used to open it in any other open-source office application such as Libre Office Calc.

You can use the following steps:

  1. Download the application from Apache OpenOffice – Official Download and install it on your computer.
  2. Click “Open” on the user interface.
Click on open and open office Apache
  1. Navigate to the folder where the XLK file is stored and click “Open.”

The file is opened in Open Office Calc as shown below:

File has opened in open office
  1. On the “File” menu, choose “Save As” and navigate to the folder where you want to save the converted file.
Choose save as from the file menu
  1. Save the file in any of the supported formats.
Save the file

Note: The application cannot fully support all formatting on a worksheet and cannot convert XLK to XLSM format. However, you can convert XLK to XLS format and save it as XLSM format.

Also read: How to Open XML Files in Excel?

How to Export as PDF in OpenOffice Calc

Sometimes, you may want to open an XLK file in OpenOffice Cal and export it as PDF for various reasons, such as:

  • To preserve formatting: PDF file preserves the formatting of the original document, including fonts, colors, and layout, ensuring the document looks the same on any device or platform.
  • Prevent editing: PDF files are read-only by default, meaning they cannot be edited without special software, making them ideal for sharing documents you don’t want others to modify.
  • Reduce file size: PDF files are typically smaller than Excel files, making them easier to share and store.
  • Increase accessibility: PDF files can be opened and viewed on any device or platform, including smartphones and tablets, making them more accessible than Excel files, which require specialized software to view.

You can use the following steps to export an XLK file as PDF:

  1. Open the XLK file as shown in Method #3.
  2. Open the “File” menu and choose “Export as PDF.”
Export the file as pdf
  1. Select your preferred options on the “PDF Options” dialog box and click “Export.”
Select options and click on export
  1. Navigate to the folder where you want to store the PDF file and click “Save.”
Select the folder where you want to save it as PDF

OpenOffice Calc will save the file as PDF.

This tutorial explained what an XLK file is. Additionally, it showed how to create and open an XLK file and export it as PDF. We hope you found the tutorial helpful.

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I am a huge fan of Microsoft Excel and love sharing my knowledge through articles and tutorials. I work as a business analyst and use Microsoft Excel extensively in my daily tasks. My aim is to help you unleash the full potential of Excel and become a data-slaying wizard yourself.

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