How to Fix “The file you specified cannot be opened” Error in QuickBooks?

You may get the error “The file you specified cannot be opened” when opening the QuickBooks company file, updating the payroll accounts, opening the payroll federals forms, or paying scheduled payroll liabilities.This error can occur if the company file you are trying to open is read-only or it is already being used by another program. It can also appear if the file doesn’t have sufficient permissions. Sometimes, corruption in the company file also prevents you from opening the file, resulting in the error. Whatever be the cause of the error, let’s see how to fix this QuickBooks error.

Methods to Fix the Error “The file you specified cannot be opened”

Make sure the file you are trying to open exists at the specified location. If the file location is correct, then follow the below solutions:

Method 1: Check and Install the Latest Updates of QuickBooks

Check if you have installed the recent QuickBooks updates. If not, then install them. Follow the below steps:

  • First, open the QuickBooks Desktop.
  • Then, open the Product information window by pressing the F2 key.
  • In the Product Information window, you can see the current version, product number, and release of the application.
  • If your QuickBooks is not up-to-date, then perform the below steps to update it:
  • Navigate to the Help option and then click Update QuickBooks Desktop.
  • Click Update Now and then click Get Updates.
  • Once the update process is complete, close QuickBooks and then open it.
  • An update installer will pop up asking you to install the update. Click Yes.
  • When the installation completes, follow the instructions that appear on the screen.

Method 2: Run QuickBooks in Administrator Mode

You may encounter the error “The file you specified cannot be opened” while updating the QB payroll service. It usually occurs when you are not running QuickBooks as an administrator. In this case, try to run the program in administrator mode. Here are the steps:

  • First, close all the processes that are running and then restart your system.
  • Then, in the Windows search field, type QuickBooks. It displays the latest QuickBooks version that is installed on the system.
  • Next, right-click on the QuickBooks version and then select Run as administrator.
  • Now, run the payroll updates to check whether the issue is resolved or not.

Method 3: Check and Change the File Permissions

The “file you specified cannot be opened” error can occur if you do not have sufficient permissions to access the QuickBooks file. You can check and update the permissions. To do so, implement the below-mentioned steps:

  • Press the Windows + E keys to open File Explorer.
  • On the File Explorer window, search for the desired file, i.e., company file or QBW32.EXE.
  • Right-click on the file and then select Properties.
  • Select the Security tab and then choose the Edit option.
  • In the security wizard, click on the Add option.
  • On the dialog box, enter “Everyone” and then click OK.
  • In the security window, tick the checkbox for Full Control and then click OK.
  • Again click on Add and now type Users in the field.
  • Click OK.
  • Click the checkbox for Full Control, select it, and then click OK.
  • Click Apply and click OK.

Method 4: Use the QuickBooks Rebuild Tool

The error “The file you specified cannot be opened” can also occur if the file you are trying to access is damaged or corrupted. In this case, you can try the QuickBooks Rebuild Data tool. This tool rebuilds the file and fixes minor issues. To use this utility, follow the steps cited below:

  • Go to the File menu in QuickBooks.
  • Select Utilities and then click Rebuild Data.
  • The QuickBooks information window appears. Click on the OK button.
  • A prompt will be displayed to create a company file backup. Follow the on-screen instructions to create a backup.
  • When the backup is finished, the tool begins rebuilding the file.
  • When the process is complete, click on the OK button.

Now, check if there is any additional data damage. To do this, use the Verify Data tool. Here’s how:

  • Navigate to the File menu and then click Utilities > Verify Data.
  • The tool will start verifying the data issues. If it fails to detect any issue, then click on the OK button.

Alternate Solution

The Rebuild Data tool may fail to repair the corrupt company file in certain situations. If it fails to provide the expected results, then you can use a dedicated third-party QuickBooks recovery software, such as Stellar Repair for QuickBooks to repair the severely corrupted company file. This tool has an intuitive user interface that is so simple to use that even a non-technical user can use it to repair the QBW files. The tool supports QuickBooks Pro, Premier, and Enterprise solutions.


The error “The file you specified cannot be opened” usually occurs when you try to open the company file or update payroll accounts. In this post, we have mentioned various solutions that you can implement to fix the error. If the issue has occurred due to damage or corruption in the file, then try rebuilding it using QuickBooks inbuilt utility – Rebuilt Data tool. If this tool fails to fix the issue, then try a professional third-party QuickBooks repair tool, such as Stellar Repair for QuickBooks. It can repair damaged QBW files and recovers every bit of data from the file with complete consistency and accuracy.

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