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How To Open .docx Documents

written by: •edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 5/19/2011

Need to know how to open a docx file? Well, if you’re using Microsoft Office 2003, or older, you cannot directly open a .docx file. However, there are ways of opening, reading, and editing docx files without having MS Office 2007 or Office 2010 installed on your computer. This article shows you how.

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    What is a .docx file?

    The .docx file format was introduced by Microsoft as the new default file format for Word documents in Office 2007. It was retained by Microsoft in Office 2010, and looks set to be around for the foreseeable future. Essentially it is more secure and offers more functionality, but this came at a cost. Unfortunately, it is not possible to open a docx file with Word 2003, or prior versions. So, if you have older Office software, it is important to know how to open a docx file in case you ever get sent or need access to one. Here are ten ways to do just that.

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    Top Tips for Opening .docx files

    Office Logo 1. Using MS Word 2003 or Earlier Versions

    If you have Microsoft Office 2003, or an earlier version installed on your computer, just download and install the Microsoft Compatibility Pack and you'll soon be able to open a .docx file with your current installation of Word. This is a free download from Microsoft to help transition the move to the newer file format.

    2. Use the Cloud

    Using Google Docs is one of the quickest and easiest ways of opening a .docx file. This method does not require you to install any software on your computer, and you can just upload your .docx file to Google Docs and use it as normal. Alternatively, you can try the new Microsoft Office Web Apps. These are Microsoft's version of Google Docs and they will read your .docx file with ease when you upload it to your Windows Live account.

    3. Try OpenOffice

    Open Office is a free office suite that is a lot like the original MS Office. It includes a word processor that will open a variety of file formats, including .docx files. One benefit of OpenOffice is that it is also available in a portable form, which you can download onto your USB flash drive to make the process faster and easier.

    4. Use Internet Explorer

    This technique will let you read .docx files without using the internet or downloading any additional software. The .docx files are simply zip files renamed, and if you uncompress them like any other zip file, you can then open them with Internet Explorer. Just rename your file extension from .docx to .zip, extract its contents using WinZip, (or any other zip program you use), go into the “Word” folder, and open document.xml in Internet Explorer. Internet Explorer will display the file contents just as you see it in Word.

    Zamzar - Free online file conversion 5. Use Online .docx Converters

    There are plenty of online tools available that will easily solve the problem of how to open a docx file by converting it to a .doc or some other format. All you need to do is navigate to the website that offers this service, upload your .docx file, and wait as it is converted to the format you choose. The free online .docx file converters include:

    A. Zamzar

    B. Investintech

    C. Docx converter

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    6. Use Word Reader

    This is an easy to use program for reading .docx files. The Word Reader can also read .doc, .html, .rtf and .txt files. It is available as a free trial download, but the full featured version will cost you $29.95. While it will not allow you to edit anything on the document, you will still be able to view and converrt the contents. You can download Word Reader from here.


    7. Use ThinkFree

    ThinkFree is a free online office suite that you can use to open and read your .docx files with ease. To open a .docx file with ThinkFree, simply upload your file to their site. You do not need to register, but if you want to edit and save documents, you will need to create an account first.


    8. Use the Word 2007 Viewer

    Word 2007 viewer is a small utility program from Microsoft that lets you read .docx files even if you do not have MS Word installed on your computer. However, to use this program, Office Compatibility Pack should already be installed on your computer. You can download the Word 2007 Viewer for free from here.


    9. Use TextEdit

    If you are a Mac user, then you should try one of the final two solutions. TextEdit comes installed with Mac OS, and you can use it to open, create, edit and save documents in .docx format.


    10. Try a Desktop Widget

    This is one of the easiest ways of converting your .docx files to the .doc format. The docx-converter Dashboard Widget is a simple, small widget that lets you convert your .docx files right from your OS X dashboard. Just drag your .docx file and drop it on the widget and your file will automatically be converted to a .doc file and saved in the same location as the original .docx file. The widget is only compatible with Mac computers.

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    Now that you know how to open a docx file, the next time you need to open a docx file, you can use any of the methods above to open your docs file without MS Office 2007 or later versions.