More .doc Problems

David Parry bio photo By David Parry

As if the .doc problem wasn’t bad enough, now we have to worry about .docx.

So as many are probably aware, Microsoft released its new operating system, and along with that release comes an updated version of Microsoft Office. The problem here is that the new Microsoft Office saves files in a different format than the old Microsoft Office. This means that just because you could read old Microsoft Office files (.doc) doesn’t mean you can read new ones (.docx).

What You Need to Know

  • Microsoft Office (old) and Microsoft Office (new) have different file formats. The old version saved things as a .doc file, whereas the new saves as a .docx.
  • If you are using a new version of Office you can read the old files.
  • If you are using an old version, you will not be able to read the new.
  • While Microsoft makes it possible for old versions to read the new file format ( a patch has been released-see below), anyone not running Microsoft Office will not be able to read documents created on the new Office (or not without some trouble).
  • This is a particular problem for Mac users or people who use software other than Microsoft Office (Mellel, Nisus, etc.).

How to Fix this Problem-For those Without the New Office

Of course the easiest way is to get the person to save as a .rtf. But let’s say this does not happen. I spent some time this morning looking at options. Here are a few.

  • Docx-Converter: This is a free online tool, and a downloadable widget. It will convert a .docx file into a .html file (you can then read it in any web browser). The problem is that it loses much of the formating. But this is free and will work to get the content of the document.
  • Panergy Software: This is an application which will convert any new Office file (.docx). In my trials it worked well, even preserved formating. But, it is $19.95, so not really a great option.
  • If you are a PC user running Word you can download the patch here that will allow your version of Office to open .docx files. (No such patch exists for Microsoft Office for Mac.)
  • For the more adventurous you can follow this tutorial which will walk you through the steps of how to manually get the content out (although this also does not preserve formating and requires you to rename files).

You can read more about this problem here and at Wikipedia.

Of course the best solution is to make sure that everyone sends files as a .rtf. This avoids the problem all together.

Update: Microsoft has released a beta version of a .docx converter for Mac. Download it here.