Message: Unable to open the file.

Reference Number: KB-00973
Last Modified: July 16, 2021

The information in this article applies to:

Chief Architect Premier or Chief Architect InteriorsHome Designer Professional or Home Designer Architectural or Home Designer Suite


Whenever I try to open a particular plan file, an error message states,

"Unable to open the file", followed by the file's name.

What am I doing wrong?


This error message indicates that although the file has a file extension recognized by the software, the contents of the file are such that the file cannot be read. There are a couple of possible reasons for this:

  • The file is not actually a plan or layout file but was renamed so that it has a .plan or .layout file extension.

  • The file is missing data and cannot be opened.

The solution to this error depends on the cause.

If the file in question has been renamed, it is best that you restore its original file extension. Changing a file's extension does not change its file type or allow different applications to read it. In fact, it may prevent applications that should be able to read the file from doing so.

If the file is missing data, there is most likely nothing that can be done to recover it. You will need to resume work by opening and renaming a copy of your most recent backup. See the related article section below for our article on accessing your archive files.

While there are no guaranteed ways to always prevent file corruption, here are a few tips to help avoid missing data in the future:

  • Do not work across a network or off of a thumb drive or other removable storage device. Instead, copy the file you wish to work on to your local hard drive, work on the locally saved file, and then copy the file back when you are finished.

  • Do not zip or upload files while they are open. Before zipping a plan or layout file, or before uploading a file to an e-mail message or website, it is important that it is not open in the program.

  • Implement a backup routine. Get into the habit of saving your work often and create a backup routine for all of your important files.