docx in openoffice revisited

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From the pages of this blog, I wrote in the past about the ability of openoffice to open and save in the notorious docx (and xlsx and pptx) format the new MS Office 2007 introduced. My focus at the time was (and still is) how this can be done in various linux platforms. However, several people have asked about the possibility that Openoffice offers even for win32 platforms. So, here is, once again, a list of options (either web-based or platform-independent) for dealing with the mess that is docx (apparently, now an iso standard).

First, there are a couple of options that allow this translation from the web. You simply upload the file and get back the translated copy. I have not tried such options and I don’t know whether I would like to share with some other people personal files.

Zamzar online converter (all files). It allows for the translation of all types of files (docx, xlsx, pptx and more).

docx2doc online converter for docx2 files. Apparently, they offer a desktop conversion tool in partnership with Amazon. This tool can be found here: docXconverter, standalone, desktop conversion tool. Please be aware that this tool requires a fee.

Moving from web-choices to desktop ones, it should be said that the upcoming OpenOffice 3 will natively save (and open) docx, xlsx, pptx files. In the mean time, another option is to use Word 2003 viewer which can be downloaded from this site: word viewer. In order to use the new docx files, you will need this compatibility pack for older office versions and the job is done. Note, that you can install word viewer in linux under wine (why you would want to do this, though, is beyond me) ­čÖé Also note, that the compatibility pack is necessary for office 97, 2000 etc.

If someone is still bound and tied to the MS office platform, this odf converter translator add-in for MS Office will make it smart enough to save and open odf files produced by OpenOffice. Of course, the option to use under Windows is also viable and should be promoted, as it offers enhanced capabilities to the end user.

Another indirect way from docx to odf may be via this conversion tool: docx2rtf. Docx2Rtf is a freeware file converter for MS Word 2007 and OpenOffice Sxw and Odt files. According to the site: “Docx2Rtf does not require Office 2007 or OpenOffice installed in order to work. Word 2007 docx files and OpenOffice files will be converted with formatting, but no images.” Understandably, this may not be what many people have in mind.

In the oooninja site, there are instructions and downloads in order to do the translation from docx to odf both under windows and linux using a cli (command line interface).

The key in both cases is the installation of an oxt file (an openoffice extension), which can be installed under the tools -> Extensions Manager. There are a couple of places where this oxt file can be downloaded from. First, from Novell or from

A couple of interesting notes: Novell also produces its own version of open office, which incorporates this extension. offer their own version of openOffice, with “… new features in development and […] functionality not yet accepted up-stream (from their website).

One last thing: If you get a docx, xlsx, pptx file via email, do what I do: return it to the sender and ask them to send you a check for so many $$ in order for you to buy a copy of MS Office. Also, inform them of the ability of OpenOffice and last, as a courtesy, ask them to be kind enough to use the File -> Save As choice and save their work as doc/xls/ppt files.

PS. If this list is incomplete (and it most likely is), please let me know and I will add what’s missing.
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24 thoughts on “docx in openoffice revisited

  1. Pingback: odf & docx in OpenOffice « Blah blah blah

  2. yes, I agree with the suggestion to send back the file as odt. Once I sent a file back as plain txt and got the reply that they didn’t know how to open the file and “could i please send it as a word file?” ­čśÇ


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  4. @Stephanie,

    I’m glad I could help and you saved tons and tons of time. Part of the frustration of dealing with docx, xlsx, pptx files is that people will just assume that you have what they have in terms of software. And, of course, the docx file will arrive at the most inopportune moment and will demand your urgent and undivided attention. Bummer!!!


  5. This .docx file situation is rediculous. I e-mailed my Professor our take-home research paper and a week later I got a letter from him saying I sent a bogus file, nothing could be opened. This caused my final grade to have an Incomplete until things could be resolved. I figured this had to do with the fact our school’s computer system is very undesirable and known to have issues opening file attatchments. I didn’t give it much thought after. Then in the past few months, I’ve been applying for jobs online, and e-mailing my resume. This week alone, I had three prospective employers contact me saying my resume (in .docx file) could not be opened. Now I know what’s going on, thanks to this and other websites which discuss this new file type. But it really makes me angry to think about all of the times I’ve uploaded my resume to career websites, and sent it in an e-mail to prospective employers. The one time I finally have advanced technology at my disposal, it’s working against me… go figure!

  6. Well, new does not necessarily mean improved in the case of doc/docx. The fact that MS introduced this new format does not mean that everybody should just jump to the wagon and convert to the new system. That’s life… Alternatively you could have sent a pdf version of your resume, even better a txt version of the resume or the more widespread doc version of your resume and other important files.


  7. Most people don’t think about file extensions.

    I bought Office 2007 from my University at a very discounted price. It was the only thing they offer. Well, thinking that they wouldn’t offer something that they couldn’t support, started sending files in the default format. Well, of course, I get an email saying that the papers couldn’t be opened, and that they probably got messed up in the email. So, send again. This went on for about a month when I realized that Microsuck hadn’t made their new product back compatible by default.

    Apparently this is a common issue, and the people at the University aren’t smart enough to tell us to save in a doc format.

    Now I have everything set to save in the 90-2003 file formats.

    I’m so happy I didn’t have to pay $300 for that piece of crap.

    I just have Office on that one computer now alongside OOo. All my other computers run OOo, but I still save files in .doc,.xls, etc.

  8. Andrew,

    The problem with offering a faulty piece of software (even at a discounted price) is that it will create faulty files ­čÖé I have received and still receive docx files and I send them back with a polite note (nothing aggressive) asking for the same file in doc, pdf or even simple txt.

    Maybe I should start sending people files in OpenOffice format (odt) just for fun.


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  10. Your solution is not sound to say the least.
    Strong arming people into using the format of your choosing doesn’t make you any better than microsoft, who you seem to have it out for.

    Also, the docx (and the other office XML files) are actually very nice to work with. they are all XML which has been gzipped. Nice file sizes and there are a number of tools out there for .net (which in case you haven’t noticed, is taking off like wild fire) to work with them.

    It is now an ISO standard, and therefore it is all open to public and not hindered by threat of copyright violation or whatnot. There is no reason for open office not to be able to save a docx. Early releases of OO3 still do not have the ability to save as docx.

    Lastly, having used Openoffice 2 (i used to be an OOo fan) and MS Word 2007, I much prefer to work in word. It is just a really solid application. MS products integrate nicely together and face it, most offices are running a lot of MS products. Do you expect them to just switch over? OpenOffice is free, but office will integrate with all kinds of other MS software.

    Just because something is open source doesnt make it better.
    In closing, you sound like another guy who praises anything open for the sake of it being open. I’m a bit biased, I’m somewhat of an MS fanboy, but that is because they have not let me down in recent years. I only find more positive things with each new version of their software, and I only find myself disapointed with open source equivilents.

  11. @Bryan,

    I am not strongarming anyone nor am I forcing my opinions on anyone, either. I am all for choice and choices is what I pointed at in this post. If you like MS products, go ahead and use MS products (your choice, your money). However, if you and I (hypothetically speaking) were to collaborate on a joint project, I would appreciate it if you did not strongarm me and force me to use docx. That’s what I am saying.



  12. @Bryan.

    Your points about how nice or otherwise OOXML is cf. to odx are beside the point.

    Both are ISO standards, and both are PK-Zip’d (not gzipped) XML.

    @IKD , I’m an OOo fan and use it all the time but actually OOXML files are easy for most people to access as there are converter addins for ms-office2003 – which isn’t true for the OOo formats.

  13. @Roger,

    I thought that MS dropped their attempts at supporting the ISO standard because of all the noise during the standardization process.

    Again, I advocate choice. What is it that works best for you within your working environment. Nothing more.

    I also use LaTeX besides Office. That, too, has is pluses and minuses but when it comes to technical writing, it is top of the line.


  14. For your readers that have had issues opening Office Open XML files (docx, xlsx, …) on Windows(XP, 2000, 2003, Vista, 7) with Office (2000, XP, 2003) just run Windows Update to make sure that your system and software is up to date and then search for and download the following compatibility pack:

    “Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 File Formats”

    After that is installed either run Windows Update again (recommended option) or search for and download the following service pack:

    “Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack Service Pack 1 (SP1)”

    To use OpenDocuments (odf, odt, …) in Office just search for “Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office”. I haven’t used it but I presume that it works well enough.

    @ikd It sounded like a lot of the noise was due to the length of the Office Open XML (Microsoft) standard vs OpenDocuments standard. OOXML standard had to take into account all the early formats that Microsoft used so that backwards compatibility would be maintained. It also contained a lot more information that would allow the document to stand as a standard and not have to rely on preexisting software implementations to determine the appropriate way to interpret the standard. via.

    BTW in Windows 7 Wordpad is capable of reading and writing both docx and odf documents. One step in the right direction…

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  16. Pingback: odf & docx in OpenOffice | The daily blah blah

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