Can't open Excel or Word file in green text - permission problem?

Posted on 2014-04-11
Last Modified: 2016-10-01

I'm trying to restore and open files from my old laptop. In one particular folder, I can open every file except 2. One is a Word document, and the other is an Excel document. Both were created using version 2010. It's strange, but both file names show up in green text. All the others are in black text, as usual.

When I try opening the Excel doc, I  get the message:

"Excel cannot open the file 'Payroll_Budget.xlsx' because the file format or file extension is not valid. Verify that the file has not been corrupted and that the file extension matches the format of the file."

When I try to open the Word doc, I get the message:

Word cannot open the document. user does not have access privileges."
Question by:Go-Bruins
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LVL 16

Expert Comment

ID: 39995627
Green text in Windows Explorer if it's a file or folder means it's encrypted.  Right click on the file > properties > advanced > uncheck encrypt.  That's why you can't open it most likely.

Author Comment

ID: 39996560
I think that's close, but when I try to follow that procedure, I get "An error occurred applying attributes to the file: .... Access is denied.
LVL 16

Expert Comment

ID: 39996757
Who's the creator or owner of said files?  If it was encrypted, you need the certificate to decrypt the file.  Most likely you need it from the original machine that the file was created on.  Contact the creator / owner of the file.  Have them decrypt the file.
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Author Comment

ID: 39996868
What happens if the original laptop burned out?
LVL 16

Expert Comment

ID: 39996881
If you do not have a backup of the key then you are out of luck.  you will not be able to recover any data without the certificate and key.

Unfortunately there is no known backdoor so if the owner of the files did not back up the keys / certs, you have no chance of recovering the data.

Author Comment

ID: 39998946
Thanks for your help. is the "Certificate" some kind of a file that can be moved from computer to computer? What format is it? and Where would I find them?
LVL 16

Expert Comment

ID: 39999317
On the original machine - open up mmc from start > run.  Add Certificates snap-in for users.

Refer to this link for all pertinent info:

Follow the export Data Recovery Key section.

Author Comment

ID: 39999321
Assuming I don't have the orig laptop (but I do have the orig hard drive), can I just extract this data from the hard drive? maybe from a HD docking station? thx.
LVL 16

Accepted Solution

l33tf0b earned 500 total points
ID: 39999350
If you can boot off the HDD, that would be the easiest way and run the mmc natively.  If not .... there's a possible solution listed below but much more intricate.

Posted thread below:

I know the topic is old, but I was in the same situation right now, trying to recover data of one my customers.
The old computer was no longer bootable, the HDD was dying, exporting encryption certificate from old machine was no longer an option.
However, I was able to access and backup following folders from the old HDD:

c:\documents and settings\{username}\application data\microsoft\crypto\
c:\documents and settings\{username}\application data\microsoft\protect\
c:\documents and settings\{username}\application data\microsoft\systemcertificates\

then i found this article with detailed instructions that helped me to decript my files:
the article is quite comprehensive, i will try to summarize the basics steps you need to do:
1) get copy of the above 3 directories from the old machine
2) identify SID of your old machine and user:
Quote from original article:

"you will need a user account of the same user and machine number as the orginal. check this orginal folder name: c:\documents and settings\%username%\application data\microsoft\crypto\rsa\s-1-5-21-1078081533-1606980848-854245398-1003

machine is: 1078081533-1606980848-854245398
useracc is (user-id): 1003"

3) download NewSID (, download from microsoft is no longer available :(
4) run NewSID and set your machine SID to the old one, reboot
5) Make sure that your user-id, name and password are identical to the old one
Quote from original article:
"encrypt a test file, then browse to c:\documents and settings\%username%\application data\microsoft\crypto\rsa\ - is the number on the end of the sid eg 1003 the same as the previous number?"
if it is the same, skip to 6) otherwise see article
6) copy above 3 folders into your current profile, overwrite everything
7) reboot
8) now you should be able to access encrypted files.
all credits go to "clark", who wrote the mentioned article.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 39999353
Tremendous. I wish I could give you 5000 points :)
LVL 16

Expert Comment

ID: 39999589
appreciate it, glad everything is working out.

Expert Comment

by:Payal Bharad
ID: 41824690
When I try to open word and excels file its signboard open "Access Denied" What should I do?

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