How do I open docx files?

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 25, 2007
Updated • Mar 5, 2013
Microsoft Office, Windows

Microsoft introduced the .docx file format in its new Office and Word applications in Office 2007 and wants it to replace the commonly used doc format. The problem with the change from doc to docx is that many users are still working with older versions of Word or no Microsoft product at all and face the problem that they can't load the docx files because they are not supported in their application.

The main question for those users is of course how they would open a docx file to be able to read and work with it. The answer is that it depends on what program and computer the user is working with. Let me outline several possibilities to open and work with docx file without using the latest Microsoft Office or Word software.

Older versions of Microsoft Office or Microsoft Word:

Older versions such as Office XP do not support the docx format because it was not known when they were developed and sold. A simple way to read docx and xlsx files in those applications would be to install the Microsoft Compatibility Pack which adds support for the new file formats.

Open Office

You can use the Open XML Translator for Open Office to be able to read and edit docx files with Open Office. Update: Open Office supports the new Microsoft Office formats docx, xlsx and pptx natively now when it comes to opening them.

Online Solution

The docx converter lets you convert docx documents online. This is a pretty good solution if you don't want to install the previously mentioned add-ons.


You might want to use the Online Solution above or download a desktop widget from the same developer. If you happen to use Microsoft Office on your Mac you might want to take a look at the Microsoft Office Open XML File Format Converter for Mac.


Microsoft Office Open XML File Format Converter for Mac
Ways to open Office docx documents


Tutorials & Tips

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  1. Xenofon Gounaropoulos said on September 21, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    AbiWord is a free and open source software word processor. Download and install Abiword and open your docx files. You can convert them to doc if you wish with Abiword.

  2. CryHavoc said on July 28, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    By this time, there probably is an open source docx reader out there, but there is another reason many do not like the new (MS pushed) format.

    If you remember the good old days (heh) of the 90’s and MS Office, you probably remember the scads of macro virii that were also prevalent. Though it is stated that the docx format is secure…tying it to a markup language (eXtensible Markup language) is like waving a red flag in front of a pissed off bull. No software program is compeltely secure and touting docx as such will only give users a false sense of security. At least with .doc files out in the wild, most users (and corps) will at least scan them before using them. I use office 2010 but i STILL save all my files in the doc format.

    It is only a matter of time before new virii arrive to attack the docx format.

  3. Anonymous said on July 26, 2011 at 6:17 am

    How much more arrogant can Microsoft be? Instead of assuming everyone is going to
    add all their compatibility pack bloat-ware…which they’re not…How ’bout educating your
    2007 users that instead of assuming everyone in the world has Windows 2007 (including Mac users) they should “save as” all their World files as “Word 97-2003 document” (which makes it a traditional .doc file) unless they know with absolutely certainty they are sending to another Windows 2007 user. It’s getting extremely aggravating explaining to all my clueless MS Windows user friends why people can’t open the bloody files they send…which is why I’m switching to Mac Pages for good.

  4. Anonymous said on May 20, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    online converter worked for me :) thanx a lot

  5. Anonymous said on November 28, 2010 at 4:23 am

    microsoft compatibility pack worked 4 me… saved me during my exams!….. thanks a lot !

  6. BarbMO said on April 15, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    I downloaded the converter from the MS website and it was even easier than advertised, docx files now open in MS Works. Hurray!!

  7. nazar said on April 14, 2010 at 2:09 am

    i use office 2007, and yes the document will save with file name .docx
    the problem when i want to upload my document to sent it to other, most uploader don not recoqnize file name with extention .docx
    How do i resolve this?

    1. Gloria Waldinger said on April 27, 2012 at 11:04 pm

      I recently installed Microsoft Office 2012, and for the first time created a document and attempted to send it as an attachment to a colleague who has an older version of Microsoft Word. I was unaware that it would be send as a docx file, which he says he cannot open, and asked that I resend it as a doc file. Can you please let me know how to achieve that?
      Many thanks,
      Gloria Waldinger

      1. Martin Brinkmann said on April 27, 2012 at 11:20 pm

        You need to select the Save As option under the File menu in Word.

  8. Arthur said on January 21, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Why can’t MS just build something in the system so you can open these automatically? What’s the problem?

  9. user said on January 18, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    I have been uploading .docx files to Google Docs. it can read them, and from there you can export the file as a regular .doc file.

    1. Anonymous said on October 4, 2010 at 4:17 pm

      best solution here! Thanks!!!!

  10. sheldon said on October 28, 2009 at 2:26 am

    I have XP and Word 2003-2007. My problem is that when I send a document, people tell me that they can’t open it. I see the attachment before it goes and it says “docx”. Isn’t here a way for me to save all my files as “doc” or “all files” so that when I send them out, the document is able to be open by anyone with any age computer or word program?

    1. Martin said on October 28, 2009 at 9:58 am

      Well you need to save them in doc format in Word.

  11. wan said on October 25, 2009 at 3:36 am

    ive tried to open the docx file with staroffice that but i could not find any compatable program, i dont have microsoft office vista. can anybody help? it would be great help because its serious business.

  12. Mayank Sharma said on July 20, 2009 at 8:09 am

    THANKS A Lot,
    I used “Online Solution”, it works.

  13. flysoon said on June 17, 2009 at 6:39 am

    I found a solution for the .docx files. I just don’t open them and send them back to the person who sent them to me. I don’t have time to be Microsoft’s guinea pig. This altering of Office Word was a very bad, greedy idea.

  14. Hanne said on April 16, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    I tried the first solution to open .docx-files in word 2003, but it didn’t work. Nothing happened at all.

  15. nazeer khan said on February 19, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    how do i open docx file plz tell me how to convert this into doc file plz i am waiting.

  16. S P GILL said on February 11, 2009 at 9:50 am

    how to open DOCX file

  17. Joanna said on December 16, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    The Microsoft compatibility pack worked well and was easy, and I am glad to have a more permanent solution. I tried the online converter, but it doesn’t seem to work anymore.

  18. aman said on October 13, 2008 at 10:50 am

    how can i open docx file in ms-word

  19. Liona said on September 25, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    Thanks I downloaded the compatibility pack and saved the day

  20. leon said on September 25, 2008 at 7:56 am

    Not only iWork Pages but also the Apple’s TextEdit can easily open and edit this docx file. I have switched to Mac a year ago and have no regret. FYI, the MS Office for Mac 2004 cannot open docx given that this is MS product. I will not upgrade to 2008 version but switch to iWork when enough annoying issues occur from using the existing MS Office for Mac 2004. Good luck!

  21. Reed said on August 12, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    Novell seems to have taken down the download link. Is this add-on discontinued?

  22. J said on June 3, 2008 at 12:39 am

    The Microsoft Compatibility Pack worked great! Saved me from a really stressful Morning.

  23. carey said on April 22, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    still looking for the best way to open the docx file

  24. Sham said on April 11, 2008 at 5:36 am

    yeah the zip hack worked like a charm too! thx

    1. S PALMER said on June 16, 2011 at 4:18 pm

      thanks for the zip thing – worked a charm – really needed to open the docx so thanks again

  25. john doe said on March 25, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    just download the compatibility pack from Ms’s website…it is free and makes all old version of Word able to open DOCX. easy and free

    1. Jan said on December 11, 2010 at 7:51 pm

      Doesn’t work for MACINTOSH users of MS Office 2004. The idiots at Microsoft didn’t think to release an “update pack” for us! Buffoons.

  26. Inna said on March 20, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    Thanx! Online converter worked for me perfectly!

  27. RP said on January 30, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    The point becomes a little more obvious, if you try to alter contents or even just unzip it and zip it up again with your onboard XP compressor. Word says the file is corrupted and it won’t open it… . I am currently in search for a way to programmatically alter docx contents.

  28. airtonix said on January 16, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    err, so wahts the point of docx if all you had to do was unzip it?

    I thought balmers selling point on docx was that it was a secure format ( and one that linux wasnt able to reliably work with 100% )

    everyone knows steve balmers wants to silenty murder each non-novell linux user.

    But even then he wishes anything not under the Zieg-Hiel banner of Microsoft would just shrivel up and die.

  29. Ivo Pavlik said on January 16, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    That ZIP hack worked for me. Thanx.

  30. Beef Lo Mein said on November 4, 2007 at 3:04 am

    Excellent an simple. Thanks a lot

  31. Freddy Nager said on October 23, 2007 at 1:59 am

    I was able to open .docx file using Apple iWork Pages. Apple rules!

    Incidentally, when I tried to download the XML Converter from Microsoft, the link on their site was broken. I won’t say what I think of Microsoft.

  32. Eliena Andrews said on July 29, 2007 at 6:29 am

    cool info, thanks you saved my day and my disk space.

  33. Anonymoose said on July 25, 2007 at 3:18 pm

    In the event of an emergency, a docx file is just a zipped XML structure – if you don’t have access to any of the solutions above, you can change the extension to .zip, unpack it, then extract the XML file containing the text only from within the structure. Saved my bacon when I’m in a hurry and only have my PDA handy before :)


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