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.xlsx and .docx are being saved as a zip file in explorer?

17 April, 2009 (06:51) | How to

#1 fix – stop using Internet explorer. Use Google Chrome

#2 fix – stop using IE and use Opera

#3 fix – stop using IE and  Use firefox

I strongly suggest you expand your horizons if you haven’t use a browser other than IE. You need to be able to troubleshoot problems to see if they are browsers based or not. So use at least 2 browsers at all times.

MS support is USELESS. We did 3 support calls over the span of a few months. Each time a bunch of guys in India were remote controlling the machine. Each time they failed to fix and diagnose the problem.

Here is what we know so far about the problem and workarounds:

This problem is with office 2007 files being downloaded in IE. Mine specifically is downloading an xlsx doc from gmail. It changes the name from file.xlsx to or depending on the profile used. If you save the file, unzip and open it is the document. It opens directly from firefox and chrome doing the same.

It is a problem on IE7 and IE8

Machine is running vista, not in a domain

It is not a problem with 7zip or winzip in most cases.

This is a really weird one- your symptom is that when you click on an attachment or try to save a .docx or .xlsx from internet explorer, it saves as or When you save the file, it is saved incorrectly and will not open. You can’t unzip and open, it shows a bunch of jibberish. When the open/save option comes up, you can see the filename.docx has been changed to

The problem does not occur in firefox or chrome on a broken machine.This problem seems to have 3 distinct causes.

A. Apache Mime types on the server are set incorrectly – basically this is a manual on the server that your browser uses. So if the server says I’m serving pancakes, sausage and OJ, Your client is getting a menu that says 1 thing. Cheeseburgers. Everything looks like a cheeseburger and is downloaded as a cheeseburger.AKA zip file. I have set up an apache server and successfully broken and fixed this problem. No self respecting admin should have this broken. If this is a server at your work, demand to yank the nerd card from the admin. They are playing games with you and trying to force you to another browser, or the are incompetent.

B. I confirmed on several machines in my office this is a problem caused by winzip 12.0. Normally I have users install 7zip becuase it is a nicer, free open source version of winzip. Apparently winzip is hijacking part of internet explorer when it installs. To fix this problem send yourself an email that has a .docx and one that has a .xlsx. Verify that internet explorer is saving as a zip..

Verify that you can NOT open the zip file and extract a .docx etc (if you can extract the office doc inside, this one isn’t your problem, move on)


1. Uninstall winzip

2. reboot, test your emailed test files.

3. If that didn’t fix it, open internet explorer

4. Go to tools>options, click on the security tab, select “internet” , hit custom settings

5. Way down the list look for “Open files based on content, not exception” write down what it is set on, now flip it to the opposite and reboot.

6. DONE! Should be done anyways. That fixed it for me on 4 machines, 2 vista business and 2 vista home premium. Let me know if you have any success. Also I suggest 7zip for your replacement tool.

C. This problem happens in Google Mail!! They insist their mime types are correct. I need feedback on this page if you are having the same problem so that the next time I call I can point to the number of users having the problem. I’ve put many full days into this stupid issue now. Throw me a bone with some data points.

Leave me a comment if this fixes or fails to fix yours. Good luck!




Pingback from .docx becomes .zip when opened from web – Page 2 – HTFC Forums
Time: April 17, 2009, 7:47 am

[…] heres a screenshot and instructions, tell me if this works or doesn’t and i’ll try to help more. ? .xlsx and .docx are being saved as a zip file in explorer? toodleooo, […]

Comment from MW
Time: April 24, 2009, 9:06 am

This fix didn’t work for me. I’m using Vista Business with IE8. I have the same problem you’ve described, but I don’t use any kind of zip utility other than what’s built into Vista

Comment from Nerd
Time: April 27, 2009, 4:18 pm

booo! can you do save as- then change the extension to a zip and then read it?

Comment from MW
Time: April 30, 2009, 9:38 am

If I do save as and change the extension I can read it. I’ve also found that if, after downloading, I right-click the .zip file and choose open with and select the appropriate program (ie, Word, Excel, PPT) it will open correctly without renaming it.

Comment from Nerd
Time: May 5, 2009, 1:17 pm

Ok so that sounds like a different problem than mine. On our machines the file was corrupt when renamed or unzipped. I’ll poke around to see what I can find.

Comment from David
Time: May 25, 2009, 3:21 am

Most likely the problem has to do with microsoft compressed folder.
By going into regedit, HKEY_classes_root/.zip and changing the value of the default REG_SZ file
to something other then CompressedFolder, u will most likely notice that the docx can be opened from the web.
This however does create another problem, where .zip files aint associated with a program anymore. Which is why i would suggest that you install a program such as 7-zip and make sure that the default REG_SZ file entry looks as following “” the ” should ofc be excluded.

Comment from Chris
Time: June 2, 2009, 8:50 pm

This CAN be fixed on the server. THe server has a table of MIME types and these need to be updated with the latest Office 2007 types. The server can then tell IE how to open the file properly. IE will then preserve the XLSX, DOCX, or PPTX extensions. The server admin person should be able to add the additional MIME types. I use CPANEL and there was a dead easy way of doing it.

Comment from jb
Time: June 4, 2009, 10:00 am

It’s… “Open files based on content, not file extension”
not… “Open files based on content, not exception”

Comment from bubba jone
Time: June 30, 2009, 3:08 pm

what are the correct MIME types for each extension?

Comment from ted
Time: July 15, 2009, 12:40 pm

Chris – I think his point was like mine. I am experiencing this problem with an attachment in gmail. Try getting the gmail webserver admins to go look at mime types. I was able to fix my computer by uninstalling winzip.

Comment from RonDo
Time: July 31, 2009, 10:45 am

I had the same problem…..and fixed it by uninstalling IE8 and going back to IE7. That did it. Regrds//R

Comment from Roy Pineau
Time: August 22, 2009, 10:33 am

I was having the same problem, but from the other end. I teach college courses and post MS Office files on my web server at home. Most of the time, my students were getting the zip problem. My original solution was simply to change them to Office 2003 versions. However, recently I found this message board at:
It has some solutions, but the easiest one for me, since I run Apache is to put the following code in .htaccess in the root of the server.

It did the trick and now everyone can download Office 2007 files.
AddType application/ .docm
AddType application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.wordprocessingml.document docx
AddType application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.wordprocessingml.template dotx
AddType application/ potm
AddType application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.presentationml.template potx
AddType application/ ppam
AddType application/ ppsm
AddType application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.presentationml.slideshow ppsx
AddType application/ pptm
AddType application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.presentationml.presentation pptx
AddType application/ xlam
AddType application/ xlsb
AddType application/ xlsm
AddType application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.spreadsheetml.sheet xlsx
AddType application/ xltm
AddType application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.spreadsheetml.template xltx

Comment from Grant
Time: September 8, 2009, 4:48 pm

Is there a server-side fix for this assuming I see this only when saving .docx files using Outlook Web Access to access mailbox on a windows 2003 server hosting Exchange 2003. The problem is just like everyone has mentioned that IE (but not Firefox of course) is doing this bullcrap to .docx files Saved from IE8 machine (and possibly IE7), I believe it is isolated to just my Vista users?

Also, this makes it look like a browser issue, not a server issue… Can someone shed some light?


Comment from Max Power
Time: September 10, 2009, 11:37 am

This issue is not generally due to WinZip or other software.

It appears to be a bug within IE8. When IE8 receives an XLSX file (and likely other of the Office 2007 XML-based files) it should know, internally, what kind of file this is and what to do with it. But it doesn’t. So, it guesses that it’s a ZIP file. Firefox, IE7, and Chrome all apparently can figure out what to do with an XLSX file on their own.

The web server can provide a ‘hint’ to browsers using MIME type definitions. These shouldn’t be necessary, but it seems to cope with IE8 they are. The post by Roy Pineau was dead accurate and has solved this problem for our users. Other web servers (like IIS) have a similar configuration area for MIME types.

So, to summarize, this is a bug in IE8 which can be remedied with a server-side setting.

Comment from SQ
Time: October 7, 2009, 8:54 am

This isn’t related to only IE8. I have the same issue and have started with 6, then upgraded to 7 and still having the same issue.

Comment from sdsk
Time: October 19, 2009, 1:53 pm

Try this solution…change the extension of the saved file from zip to original file extension (if its xlsx file change the extension to xlsx)…it shows the original document

Comment from Rough Rider 32
Time: October 21, 2009, 7:50 am

Some of these fixes may work if you own the domain or run your own servers. If not and you do not have access to make changes in IE then here is a long fix. Download the .zip file. Then change the file extension to what it should be. Meaning remove the .zip and replace it with .docx or any of the rest of them. Right click and go to Open With. Then choose the Office 2007 program you want to open the file with. This is the long way around but it works when you are limited.

Comment from Dave
Time: November 19, 2009, 10:31 am

Just add the site to your trusted site list.

Trackback from culebra’s me2DAY
Time: November 27, 2009, 1:10 pm

culebra? …

???? ????? xlsx? docx??? ???? IE7,8?? ???? zip?? ???? ???? ??? ????? ?? ??? ???? ??????? ??? ???? ???? Fix? ?????? MIME??? ??? ????? ??????…

Comment from Herm
Time: November 28, 2009, 11:39 am

Thanks windowsnerds for the post. My problem was just about identical except there were no issues with winzip and had 7zip installed already. IE 8 and Outlook web access for the college I teach at caused any attached docx xlsx etc that I tried to click open from IE to start a flickering cascaded of IE windows and locked up the machine. After trying right click to save these docs i noticed the zip issues! Well the fix seemed to work was what posters suggested. Disable “Open files based on content, not file extension” and make sure the mail server site is in trusted zone. Seems to have solved it so far!

Comment from Cory Sober
Time: November 30, 2009, 3:51 pm

Thank you guys for the help on this. The solutions on this page weren’t quite what I was looking for but I did find that for me, making changes to the MIME types on my server was the fix for the problem. In my case, I had to add the following MIME types to the server to correct the problem:

application/msword docx
application/ xlsx
application/ pptx

If you add those, this problem is solved.

Comment from Mariah Levi
Time: December 10, 2009, 5:35 pm

If you right click the document in your email program and then select “Save Target As” from the list. Then in the save dialog box, add .xlsx to the end of the file name. Save and Open the file.

Comment from Matt
Time: December 12, 2009, 11:19 am

I get the same problem regardless of browser (firefox, chrome, IE). My sister has the same problem regardless of browser as well. Both of us have windows 7 professional (legit copies) and are trying to get the decrease docx files from different sources

Comment from Wray
Time: February 3, 2010, 6:10 am

What is clear from much research is that it can occur for all version of IE, sometimes for non-IE and on XP, Vista or 7. There is more than one problem. Sometimes it is a server issue, sometimes it is a client issue(sometimes both). The additional information I can add here is that when it is a client problem (and the server has been fixed or was never broken), what I see in the header for the URL on broken clients is that their ACCEPT header does not include the Mime type for a docx file. The server sends back a Mime type of application/octet-stream even though it is capable of sending back a docx mime type (application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.wordprocessingml). This certainly changes how IE displays the prompt to save it. So in this case it is not the server’s fault even though it participates. It also proves that there is no one definitive fix and that the problem needs to be analyzed on a case by case basis.

Comment from John M.
Time: February 8, 2010, 10:58 am

Working with Vista, trying to download .xlsx spreadsheet, the comment from Mariah Levi (above) seemed to be the closest working solution. There were a couple of variations. I double clicked the .xlsx file and, of course, the pop up box asked if I wanted to Open or Save. I chose Save. Then I got a pop up box with the file name changed to .zip and a drop down box with .zip pre-selected with an option to change to All Files. I chose All Files, then I placed my cursor in the file name box, deleted zip and replaced it by typing xls. Then I clicked on OK. It worked and thank the WindowsNerd for having a place for all of us to help each other. I hope this helps someone have a better rest of the day.

Comment from Matt
Time: March 2, 2010, 4:44 pm

In follow up to my previous comment, I’m not sure what has changed but now .docx files now only download properly in IE, stilil getting .zip in the other browsers…interesting.

Comment from Rob
Time: March 17, 2010, 11:36 am

Got the same odd thing on a random user’s computer running XP with IE8 using the company’s intranet. Adding the intranet to the trusted sites in IE fixed the issue for me.

Comment from Ramon Ecung
Time: March 25, 2010, 10:33 am

Add this to a .htaccess file and throw it on your site:
AddType application/vnd.openxmlformats .docx .pptx .xlsx .xltx . xltm .dotx .potx .ppsx

Should fix many of the problems.

Comment from Reddy
Time: April 2, 2010, 2:33 am

Hi Roy Pineau,

Your solutions of adding application types for Apache server in .htaccess in the root of the server is worked for me, you saved lot of my Time.


Comment from PhistucK
Time: April 5, 2010, 12:01 pm

If nothing helps client side, installing .NET Framework Redistributables 1.1 on the client computer will solve the problem. Really weirdly so.

Comment from shankz
Time: April 15, 2010, 6:52 am

Yes.. if you are building an application then there are two ways to over come it. Either add the mime types in .htaccess or once for all add it in apache’s conf/mime.types file. You can find a detailed explanation below.

Comment from Jim Hanson
Time: August 21, 2010, 10:56 pm

the same problem happens on firefox (3.6) for .docm files. same for .xlsm files.

the only way around this (aside from the server side) is to change the files to .zip so that they are actually zipped when they get downloaded. unfortunately, that means people downloading need an unzip program but that’s how it is. i hope firefox 4 and ie 9 solve this as a default rather than as an option–not good for stuff you need inexperienced users to download.

Comment from Ed White
Time: November 8, 2010, 9:15 am

I cannot open zipped files that I receive from friends, and I am using G-Mail. Have not found the solution to it. So I just delete those files and move on. I figure it is the fault of G-Mail.

Comment from El Hill
Time: November 8, 2010, 10:05 pm

I have the same problem but with my graphics downloads (.psp, .pspimage, .jpg, and .png). So it is not a office issue. The only solution I have found is to not g-mail or let it zip and unzip afterwards but that is a real pain. I’m using xp with ie7. If someone finds a solution, I’d be very interested.

Comment from Tracey
Time: November 26, 2010, 9:11 pm

Worked like a charm, thanksssssssssss!!! Saved me many hours.

Comment from mmar
Time: December 18, 2010, 4:36 pm

this will solve the problem:

Comment from John
Time: December 29, 2010, 10:06 am

I know that this topic has been around a while, but I thought I would comment on something that could be at the root of this problem. The OpenXML file specification states that the file should be in ZIP package format…so essentially the Office 2010 / 2007 document types are ZIP files, and if you open them with WINZIP you will see different files inside of the respective Office 2010 file you are viewing. It could be that the file server is looking at the header of Office 2010 / 2007 files and determining that they are mime type ZIP files. For what its worth…I’ve included a few links about the Office 2010 file type specification.


Comment from Susan London
Time: February 6, 2011, 1:23 pm

7 zip does not open zip files properly windows will no recognize it a program and it scramles everthin

Comment from Chafiq Tarik
Time: February 27, 2011, 2:16 pm

Roy Pineau thnks very good

Comment from Todd Maddex
Time: March 9, 2011, 8:07 pm

For those of you with Google Apps or Gmail…we don’t have the option to change servers or all that jazz. Here’s a quick workaround to make it work for us.

1. Click Start, click Computer
2. This will open a new window. Now click Organize (top left) and Folder and Search Options
3. Click the View tab
4. Now UNcheck the box that says, “Hide extensions for known file types.”
5. NOW, go to your email and find the part that shows the file name “blahblah.docx”
6. RIGHT-click on the link and select, Save Target As…
7. In the File Name field the file was changed to now say “”
8. Change the .zip back to .docx as it was on the original link
9. Save it to your desktop or somewhere easy to find. Now it should open like normal!

Not the easiest thing…but after you do this once…you will only have to do steps 5-9 on that computer the next time.

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Time: October 7, 2011, 12:39 am

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Comment from TC
Time: January 17, 2013, 7:10 am

Easier fix is to start excel, open the full link http:// whatever.xlsx & problem solved.

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