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Making Office 2007 files readable by earlier versions

The Adams County Record of Council, Idaho

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Uncle Mike's Computer Tips

The new version of Microsoft Office 2007 creates file formats that are not natively readable by earlier versions of Office. This is because Microsoft totally changed the internal structure of the 2007 documents so the earlier versions, say, Word 2003, has no idea what to do with it.

This compatibility issue was brought to my attention when a customer said that he had gotten an email attachment from his son in school. The dad tried to open it in Word 2000 but no go. The operating system said there was no program associated with that extension (.docx). At the time, the easiest fix was to have the son save his file in an earlier version format when he did a "save as" in Word 2007.

In a totally unrelated conversation with another customer, she had an item on her desktop called "FileFormatConverter. exe" and wondered what it was. I googled it and lo and behold, it is a converter that allows earlier versions of Microsoft Office to read and write Office 2007 documents. This includes Excel, Word and PowerPoint. Yabadaba-doooooooooo! This was the solution to my first customer's problem as well as one I have had for awhile when customer's send me docx files.

So, if you are interested in getting this converter, go to the Microsoft webpage http://tinyurl.com/2xp8e3 to download "FileFormatConverter. exe". This is a big file - about 28MB. Once it is downloaded, then double click on it, read the agreement form, answer yes, and let it install.

Once installed, you can now go to Microsoft Word 2000, 2003, etc. and open a ".docx" file. You can even create one if you want to. There is a limitation to doing this kind of conversion. Earlier versions of Office may not have the enhancements that are in 2007 so they cannot create them and visa versa. If you do something fancy in Word 2007 and try to open it in Word 2003, it may not format correctly.

If you just want to convert a single docx file, then go to www.docxconverter.com Enter your email, upload your file and pick a format that you want the file converted to. In a short time, you will get an email with a link allowing you to download the converted file. It is'a free service. You can convert to all different formats including Powerpoint, WordPerfect, Open Office, pdf, rtf and many others.

One note of caution. Because Office documents such as Word and Excel can contain macros that start when you open them, you need to be careful and know your source. It is better to send pdf files than native Office documents.



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Original Publication Date: February 5, 2009



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