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Opening Microsoft Word Documents On a Mac

Wednesday February 6, 2019. 03:00 PM , from MacMost
If you receive a Microsoft Word document from someone who seems to think that everyone has Word, it can be frustrating. But you have several options to view and even edit the Word document on your Mac without buying anything. You can use Quick Look or Preview to view the file. TextEdit can be used to get access to simple text documents. Pages can open Word documents and most formatting is retained. You can also edit and export back out in Word format. The ultimate solution is to spend the money to get Word from the App Store, though it requires a paid subscription.

Video Transcript CLICK TO EXPAND
So from time to time you may get a document in Microsoft Word format. Sometimes people just don't get that this is not a universal format. You get docs from teachers and parents at schools. You get them from organizations. You get them from all over the place. People assume because their computer came with Microsoft Word or they got it a long time ago that everybody has Microsoft Word. Even some people on Windows don't have Microsoft Word. But you can still view word documents and even edit them on your Mac with some software that comes installed on your Mac already or is just free. So let's take a look.

Here I have some sample Word documents. The first one is a pretty simple text document. I'm going to open it up. I do have Microsoft Word so this is what it looks like in Microsoft Word. Now let's say I don't have Word. Well, the first way I could view this is just by simply using Quick Look. That's just selecting the file and hitting the spacebar. This is what I get here in Quick Look. It's not exactly the same at all. It changes the formatting a lot. But if there's just basic information, and there are plenty of times when we get like three paragraphs of plain text in a Microsoft Word document, why they didn't just include this in the email as text I don't know, but it comes in Microsoft Word format and you can read it here using just Quick Look.

Now at the same time you could also go in the Finder, I'm going to create a new Finder window here, and go to Desktop and there's the word doc. If I'm viewing say in Column View I'll see the Preview here on the right side. So you do see it there as well. Quick Look gives you a nice window version of that. You can scroll through it and see what's there.

Another way you can view is Open With Preview. So you can drag and drop it onto Preview. You can use File Open in Preview. I'm going to Control click on it and choose Open With Preview. Then Preview allows me to view the document. I can't do much more with it but it's nice to have it open in an actual application here. I can actually Export it as PDF. So if I want to pass it along, perhaps, I could pass it along in a good format rather than one people may not be able to access.

Another way to do it is to open with TextEdit. Now TextEdit doesn't have the ability to display graphics and layout and stuff like Preview does. So it's a lot more basic. Images aren't even included that's in this document. But it is editable text. So now maybe I can clean this up and pass it along in a standard format. TextEdit uses either Plain Text or Rich Text format which can be used on any machine. So if you get a few paragraphs of text without any layout or anything then TextEdit is a good option.

Now, of course, the heavy hitter is to open it up in Pages. If you open it up in Pages it's going to be able to do a lot of what Word can do. So you can end up with a document that looks very similar. You get a little warning there that things may look different but in the case of this document it actually looks very much like the Word document. There's not that much that changes in here. So if you need to actually edit the document and you don't have Word at all this is probably your best bet. It may make some changes but at least now you have a real document. You can make changes to it. You can insert images. You can move layout around and when you're done you can actually export it back to Word format. So that's a huge advantage for Pages.

Now let's take a look at how these other documents fare. With this document here I'm going to open it up in Word. You can see here it's got lots of images and layout and things like that. So let's compare that to Quick Look. Press the Spacebar. You can see it really messes up a lot of it. But some of it's okay. So at least you can see the images and you can see some text. Opening it up in TextEdit, of course, is going to just give me some plain text. It's actually going to kind of break things up trying to do a little bit with the table layout that's inside there. But you can get to the text. So if that's what you wanted then TextEdit will accomplish that. If you open it up in Pages it's going to come pretty close. You can see how it even gets the top right. It really looks pretty good. You can kind of continue working on the document here in Pages.

Now let's take a look at this resume here. So this looks great in Word. If I were to use the Spacebar to bring it up in Quick Look you can see it breaks it a lot. TextEdit is going to look pretty bad but I can still get to some of the text. Pages will actually make it look pretty nice. Notice this warning box here that we've been getting. This will give you some idea of what might have changed. So you can see that some objects in tables cells were removed. There's a font that's missing. There's some headers and footers, and shapes and things that aren't there. Form components. There's a bunch of stuff but despite all that this doesn't look too much different from this. You can get the general idea.

Now, of course, the ultimate way to view a Word document is to actually use Microsoft Word. You can get, of course, Word for Mac. There's still some people that don't realize this but it's always been true. At least true for decades. You can actually find it in the App Store. You go to the App Store now and you can actually find Microsoft Word there. Now it looks like it's free. It's NOT free. Now Microsoft Word uses a subscription model. So you need to actually buy a subscription. It's an annual subscription. That's how Microsoft and Adobe and a lot of other companies sell software based on an annual subscription and you get all the updates, automatically, for free. So you do have the ability, especially if you're using this professionally, then you should probably spend the money to get Microsoft Office and you get Word and Excel and everything as the real apps on your Mac. Then you can open them up as you need.

There are other ways to do this as well. There are other office apps like Open Office, for instance. There's also Goggle Docs. You can upload a Word document to Goggle Docs and view it in Goggle Docs. You have the same kind of issues there. It's not perfect. It's not recreating layouts and things like that perfectly. But if you use Goggle Docs a lot that may be an option to simply bring those in to Goggle Docs and open them up on the web app, for the word processor in Goggle Docs.

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