What happened to Word?
May 27, 2011 11:51 AM   Subscribe

Suddenly and out of the blue, when I try to open Microsoft Word documents, even ones that I opened a few days ago, I can't. Help! Please!

I have a 2011 MacBook. Everything has worked perfectly, including Word, until now. Today, when I try to open Word documents (.docx) it will say "Word cannot find the converter for this file format" and prompt me to download some converter that seems confusing and maybe unnecessary...? I think that .doc will still open. It seems to be the .docx that are the problem.

I'm sorry if this question sounds ridiculous to more computer savvy people. I'm not computer savvy but I've never had trouble with word before, I need access to many documents, and I feel lost!

Thanks in advance!
posted by tacoma1 to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
What version of Word are you using? docx files have been created with Word 2007 or later. You therefore need the converter they are proposing if you wish to open a docx file with an earlier version of Word. You can get it here.
posted by TheRaven at 12:08 PM on May 27, 2011

What version of Office do you have? docx was introduced in Office 2007 (at least for Windows, not sure about the Mac), so earlier version can't open the files.

You could always download Libra Office, which can open docx files and save them out again as doc files.
posted by Z303 at 12:10 PM on May 27, 2011

Have you tried opening them in google docs? How about the MS online office suite? Have you tired Open Office (open source, free software, free download)? Have you tried opening the files in Zoho online office suite?

Preview: Z303 has you covered on OpenOffice (now called Libra Office) but if that doesn't work for whatever reason you might want to try any of these other options..
posted by dancestoblue at 12:17 PM on May 27, 2011

If you are using an older version of Word, TheRaven's solution is the best one. No need to install a bunch other stuff or run these files through Google Docs when Word can be updated to do what you need.
posted by The Lamplighter at 12:54 PM on May 27, 2011

I'm using what I think is the newest version of Word. It's 2011. I got it when I got this computer last winter...The weird thing is that these documents were opening fine a few days ago. What could have changed?
posted by tacoma1 at 1:11 PM on May 27, 2011

First thing I would suggest (if you have the office CD, that is) is going to add/remove programs and uninstalling office. Then reboot, and reinstall. It's likely overkill, but it doesn't require any special computer knowledge and it should fix the problem.
posted by zug at 1:21 PM on May 27, 2011

I don't use Apple that often, but these are pretty low impact procedures that you could try.

- Try to find the normal.dotm file that Word uses and maybe get rid of it. Don't delete it, just move it out of the Word folder and let the application create a new one when you restart the application. Make sure you do this when you have fully exited from all MS Office apps. (By not deleting it, you can always put the file back if it already has a lot of settings in it)

- Another thing I saw was a possible OS X font conflict issue or possibly a corrupt font cache. The solution suggested launching Apple's Font Book then run the Validate Fonts & the Resolve Duplicates routines. Restart.
posted by lampshade at 1:57 PM on May 27, 2011

I have found that once in a while, a tool which has been working reliably suddenly starts going to hell. Flash does that to me, for instance. And shutting the program and restarting it doesn't help.

I've also found that logging off and on again, or rebooting my computer, fixes the problem. I've come to the conclusion that some shared library has gotten fratzed, and logging off/on or rebooting is the only way to reinitialize it.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 2:00 PM on May 27, 2011

Can you open up Word on its own? My mom had a recent problem that sounds similar--from the description over the phone, it sounded like a virus that was preventing access to software.
posted by tchemgrrl at 3:35 AM on May 28, 2011

I had a similar problem with Office 2011, a few days before my dissertation was due. I fixed it by uninstalling Office completely (including going into libraries and trashing all of the Microsoft preferences) and reinstalling.

Actually, you could try trashing your preferences first and see if that helps. Yes, it's annoying to have to reset all of your preferences, but not nearly as annoying as Word not working.
posted by hydropsyche at 3:38 AM on May 28, 2011

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