Fix most common issues with SharePoint Import Spreadsheet functionality

Every once in a while, I stumble across SharePoint functionalities that are only available when using Internet Explorer, on this post I’ll explain you how to overcome two common issues when trying to import a spreadsheet into a SharePoint list.

If you are dealing with the error messages below this post is for you.

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This feature requires a browser that supports ActiveX controls

ActiveX is a software framework created by Microsoft that adapts its earlier Component Object Model (COM) and Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) technologies for content downloaded from a network, particularly from the World Wide Web. Microsoft introduced ActiveX in 1996. In principle, ActiveX is not dependent on Microsoft Windows operating systems, but in practice most ActiveX controls only run on Windows.

ActiveX components will not work on any modern browser, including Microsoft Edge, they are only available through Internet Explorer which means that the only way to get a Spreadsheet into SharePoint is using Internet Explorer.

ActiveX Support
Google Chrome
Microsoft Edge
Microsoft Internet Explorer

The specified file is not a valid spreadsheet or contains data to import

Even when using Internet Explorer this functionality can present errors to the user, if after uploading the spreadsheet you are presented with the message “The specified file is not a valid spreadsheet or contains data to import” follow the steps below:

  1. On Internet Explorer go to Settings
  2. Select Internet Options
  3. Open the Security tab
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  4. Select the Trusted sites
  5. Add your SharePoint site to this zone
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  6. Reduce the Security level to Medium-low
  7. Restart Internet Explorer

How to import an Excel Spreadsheet to SharePoint

Now that you know how to solve the most common issues with the import Spreadsheet feature lets check all the steps needed to get your file content copied to SharePoint.

  1. Go to the Internet options and make sure your SharePoint site is added to the Trusted zone and the security level is set to Medium-low
  2. Open your SharePoint site using Internet Explorer
  3. Go to Settings and then Site Contents
  4. Click on Add an app
  5. Search for Import Spreadsheet and open the app
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  6. Provide a name and a description to the SharePoint list
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  7. Browse the Spreadsheet and click Import
  8. Select the Range Type and then select the Range
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  9. Once the import finishes the SharePoint list will open with all the records selected by the range
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2 Responses to “Fix most common issues with SharePoint Import Spreadsheet functionality”

  1. Richard

    March 29, 2018

    I was having a heck of a time uploading a spreadsheet. My work around was to use Access. Then it was quite simple, fast.
    When I had access create the list in SP- it wasn’t the modern list.
    When I created the list on SP and linked to the list using Access, after UL, all info was available in a modern format.
    Anyway…just another work around

    • João Ferreira

      March 29, 2018

      Hi Richard,

      Thanks for your information, alwaya good to know other ways to do SharePoint stuff


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Web developer focused on SharePoint branding, blogger, tech enthusiast. Travelling and sports are my addictions, knowledge and success are my daily motivations.