Open and Save Word Documents With TextEdit


Microsoft (s msft) Word was one of my favorite and most-used applications back in the early days. I started Mac (s aapl) word processing first with Word 4 and upgraded to Word 5.1 in 1993. Amazingly, that old application still starts up and works fine in Classic Mode on my G4 PowerBook.

However, the disastrous Word 6 broke my Word habit, and Word 5.1 was the last Microsoft software I ever bought. I’ve turned to other software ever since for text crunching and word processing, and don’t really miss Word except when someone sends me a Word document, or when I need to send a file to someone who works in Word.

Word-Centric World

In a Word-centric world, odds are that you will encounter Microsoft Word-formatted (.doc) documents fairly frequently, in email attachments, files produced by Word-user colleagues, or informational data downloaded from the Internet.

Happily, this is not as much of a problem as it used to be for us non-Word users. Many, in fact most, word processors can open and save Word files these days with formatting rendered reasonably faithfully..


TextEdit Can Likely Handle It

If you’re using Mac OS X 10.4 or 10.5, you don’t need any other Word-savvy software other than OS X’s bundled TextEdit program, which these days warrants categorization as a full-fledged, albeit lightweight, word processor. When you need to open or save Microsoft Word-formatted documents, TextEdit can usually handle the job, and the version in OS 10.5 Leopard is the best iteration of the program yet. Unless you need perfect formatting rendition, TextEdit is up to the task.


TextEdit can open .doc files with basic formatting, such as fonts, text formatting (bold, italic, etc.), colors, line spacing, alignment and justification sustained reasonably intact. More advanced formatting, such as borders, style sheets, graphics, footnotes, bulleted lists, and such don’t often don’t survive the conversion accurately or at all. Most tables seem to translate OK, although not necessarily appearing exactly as they would in Word.

When you save a TextEdit document as a Word file, some of that sort of advanced formatting stuff actually will make the transition in the other direction, notably buttons, numbering and tables, but not style sheets. Just select one of the three Word document format options (Word 2007, Word 97 or Word 2003) and you’ve got a Word document file.


Consequently, as with the famous cartoon depicting a dog surfing the web with a computer, captioned: “On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog,” with Leopard TextEdit, no one has to know you don’t have Microsoft Word. Which in certain circles, might help with your credibility.