Opening DOCX Files on a Mac, Without Microsoft Office
Mac users may encounter DOCX files from time to time, often sent from a Windows user as an email attachment or otherwise, as the .docx file types are standard document files created in newer versions of Microsoft Office. But what if you don’t have Office on the Mac? That’s ok too, even if you don’t have Office installed in Mac OS X, you can still open, read, and edit docx files on modern versions of Mac OS X, most often without any added software.
We’ll show you how to open a docx file in Text Edit and Pages in Mac OS X. Of course, if the Mac has Microsoft Office, then you can use Office to open the .docx file too.
How to Open a DOCX File in Mac OS X with Text Edit
The Text Edit application is surprisingly versatile and can easily view and edit the vast majority of docx files on a Mac. This is also the easiest way to open a docx file in OS X, which some modern versions serving as the default opener for .docx file type, but sometimes you may need to
- Go to the /Applications/ folder and open TextEdit
- Locate the .docx file you wish to open in TextEdit and drag and drop the file on the TextEdit icon in the Dock *
* Some versions of Mac OS X will default to associating and opening a .docx file with TextEdit
The TextEdit method works to open, view, and edit the vast majority of Docx files that a Mac may encounter. For simple text based docx files, this can often be an adequate solution to view and adjust a docx file, save it, and then return to the sender or whatever else is necessary to perform with the file in question.
There is one potential hiccup however, in that some complex docx files or those with significant formatting may render inappropriately in TextEdit, making it less than an ideal environment to edit a docx file in. If you encounter that type of display errors when loading a docx file into TextEdit, you can turn to the Pages app, which comes installed by default on most Mac computers otherwise is available from the Mac App Store.
How to Open DOCX Files with Pages in Mac OS X
Pages for Mac does a very good job of rendering complex formatting found within more complicated docx files, and thus if the document looks weird or doesn’t show up properly in TextEdit, Pages is the solution (aside from installing Microsoft Office, of course):
- Open the Pages app in Mac OS X (found in /Applications/ folder)
- Pull down the “File” menu and choose “Open” (or “Import” depending on the version of Pages)
- Navigate to and select the target .docx file you want to open in Pages and choose to open that from the file browser
Pages should display the docx file without any formatting issues or problems, and it should look exactly as it arrived from the Windows or Microsoft Office world.
Another significant perk to opening a docx file in Pages is that you can save any Pages file as Word doc and docx format, making it easy to save and transmit the file to users on Windows or in a Microsoft Office environment, knowing that it will be fully compatible on their end. If you prefer the way Pages handles the files, you may wish to change the file app association for all docx types to open with Pages rather than another app on the Mac.
If you’re still having trouble viewing the DOCX file correctly in Mac OS X (or opening the file at all), you can turn to the command line and convert a docx file to simple doc format with textutil, which is admittedly a more complex task than using TextEdit or Pages since it involves a terminal command. The same terminal utility also allows for batch conversion to text (TXT) format as well, just in case you have a ton of files you want to read the contents of, but don’t care about the formatting attached. Those situations can be great for standard document files where the data contained within the file is important, but the formatting or rich media of a document is not.
Finally, another option for some stubborn files is to use a free tool from Microsoft called Open XML Converter. Open XML Converter allows you to convert Open XML files that were created in Office 2008 for Mac or Office 2007 for Windows so that you can open, edit, and save them in earlier versions of Office for Mac. This can be an ideal solution for users who are spanning many release versions of Office, Mac OS X, and Windows, as it allows for greater compatibility in many cases.