Solution: “We’re sorry. We can’t open {file} because we found a problem with its contents.”

When using SharePoint Designer workflows to automatically create documents from a template you might run into an error message:

“We’re sorry. We can’t open {file} because we found a problem with its contents.”

document contents error

Or if you’re just opening it within the browser web app instead of the Word client, you might have seen:

“Sorry, Word Online ran into a problem opening this document. To view this document, please open it in Microsoft Word.”

But if you do open it in Word you then get the first error message. Luckily it’s a simple fix.

The issue is caused when using SharePoint Designer’s “create list item” action in workflows built using the SharePoint 2010 platform. Microsoft explains: “This behavior is by design. The Create List Item action in the SharePoint 2010 Workflow platform can’t convert Word content type file templates to the correct .docx format.”

All we need to do is save the template as .docx (Word Document) instead of .dotx (Word Template) and it will work fine.
  1. In List Settings, click on the content type for which you’re changing the template. If you don’t have multiple content types or are not allowing the management of content types, skip to step 2.
  2. Click “Advanced Settings”
  3. Click “Edit Template” under the template URL
  4. The document opens in your client Word application.
    1. Click “Save As”
    2. Browse. Do NOT change the location.
    3. Change the type dropwown from “Word Template” to “Word Document”
    4. Click “Save” and replace, if applicable
  5. Back in your browser on the page for content type advanced settings, change the extension from .dotx to .docx and click OK.
    docx extension

Try triggering your workflow again, and now you should be able to open your documents created by your workflows.

If this still didn’t work, try saving your .docx file (not as a template) to your desktop, then uploading it originally during step three instead of clicking “Edit Template”.

Good luck!


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