Opening old Macwrite files
April 7, 2021 3:23 PM   Subscribe

Ok, so this one is a challenge. I hear it's tougher than time-travel. I'm hoping someone has done it. Old Macwrite and Appleworks files. How can I open them?

These files are saved on my current computer, a MacBook Air running Big Sur. (Over the years, they've literally traveled over from a Macintosh SE to an iMac to an iBook, etc.) I've googled and cannot find a single way for me to convert these files into readable text. If I open them using TextEdit, it's just a bunch of gibberish.

What, if anything, can I do to get these files opened? I'd love to revisit vivzan from the 90s.
posted by vivzan to Technology (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Tried opening them in LibreOffice?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 3:26 PM on April 7 [3 favorites]

Best answer: LibreOffice worked for my AppleWorks documents.
posted by chromium at 3:30 PM on April 7 [3 favorites]

Maybe ask on Reddit r/vintageapple if someone has a still running machine MacWrite who could convert it for you.
posted by primethyme at 3:31 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]

Try using Conversions Plus from Dataviz?
posted by Melismata at 4:00 PM on April 7

Best answer: LibreOffice is unquestionably the best thing to try first. It's free and it works. I used it for a client with a truly mammoth file archive dating all the way back to the birth of the Mac—book proposals, invoices, catalogs of photo negatives, profit-and-loss statements—and we were able to open everything with only a little finagling to work out which apps he was using around which time periods.
posted by bcwinters at 4:23 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]

Internet Archive has a runnable version of MacWrite in their in-browser emulator. If you can get your files into a disk image it might be possible to convince the emulated Mac to mount it.
posted by migurski at 4:25 PM on April 7 [4 favorites]

I was thinking “emulation.” There are several old-style Mac emulators out there, sources of old sort ware, and utilities for creating disk images.
posted by lhauser at 5:58 PM on April 7

Response by poster: Well folks, LibreOffice opens up my Macwrite and Appleworks files! I am really surprised. Thank you so much.

I'm currently reading poetry and journal entries written in 1993 and 1994. They are painful but what a joy to be able to read them again after all these years.
posted by vivzan at 6:43 PM on April 7 [14 favorites]

Yet again, free as in piano beats slick as in Betamax.

Glad you got a result.
posted by flabdablet at 11:26 PM on April 7 [2 favorites]

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