Copywriter, technical writer, translator (FR>EN, ES>EN, IT>EN), journalist

Opening .docx, .xlsx or .pptx files

If you don’t own Microsoft Office 2007 or 2010 (or the Mac equivalents, 2008 or 2011), you might have difficulty opening files created by these newer versions.

Modern MS Office components (like Word and Excel) tack an “x” to the end of each three-letter extension now, signifying a newer format. While Microsoft claims these formats are better (a little complicated to get into here), the downside is that other pieces of software that read Office files might not be able to handle files saved in these formats.

Fortunately, this problem is fading as more people (and the software they use) adapt to the “x” format. But if you’re facing “x” files, here are a few free methods of opening them:

What if you have Office 2007 (Mac 2008) or Office 2010 (Mac 2011) but a correspondent does not? You can save your documents in the non-“x” format, or what Office calls “compatibility mode.” (I told a Microsoft Canada representative that calling the non-“x” format “compatibility mode” implies something, em, shall we say, less than complimentary about the “x” format. Not much he could do about it, though…)

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