Open Word into TextEdit

Open Word into TextEdit
Mac Tip #217/19-October-2005

Microsoft Word is quite a costly piece of software and if you don’t really need it then you probably don’t have it on your Mac. There are plenty of free or inexpensive alternatives for writing text.

You can run into problems when someone who assumes you do have it sends you a Microsoft Word file as an attachment. You double click the file only to see a message telling you the computer can’t open it.

What every Macintosh computer comes with though is a piece of software called TextEdit. You’ll find it in your Applications folder and it can open Microsoft Word files. Note: I’m using Mac OS X 10.4; if you have an older version of the operating system this may not work.

There are several ways you can open a Word document into TextEdit. Hold down the Control key and click on a Word document. From the pop-up menu choose Open With and then choose from the submenu.

You could also drop a Word document onto the TextEdit icon or choose Open… from TextEdit’s file menu and locate the document to open.

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  1. lauren said:

    This was very helpful since my Word version had expired and I had many documents I needed to retrieve. Is there a way to do the same with old Excel spreadsheets?

    • Miraz Jordan said:

      Interestingly enough, at least on Mountain Lion, you can Control click a .xls file and choose Open in Preview. That allows you to read the file, but not edit it. In my tests it even opened spreadsheets with several worksheets and allowed me to call up each worksheet.

  2. Dawn said:

    I’m wondering about the opposite of this….trying to take my text edit resume and make it into word, so that I can submit it. Every time I attach it or copy/paste, it comes out all messed up. When I just try to adjust it, the words just……IT JUST DOESN’T WORK!!!! (or at least I cannot figure out how to make it work)

    There’s got to be a way, (a free way – crossing fingers) to do this.


    • Miraz Jordan said:

      It’s simple Dawn. Are you on Lion or an earlier version of the Mac OS?

      Save your TextEdit document. Go to File and choose either save as or Save a Version (Lion). A dialog box appears.

      Do the usual things about choosing a filename and place to save, but then do this important thing:

      At the bottom of the dialog box there’s a pop-up menu of File Formats. Choose one of the Word versions from that.

      Save. Done.



  3. Miraz Jordan said:

    Dolores: this Tip is now 4 years old. It may be that later versions of Word or TextEdit don’t interact so well.

    See if you could open your Word document with something like Pages or Google Docs.

  4. Dolores said:

    I tried everything you suggested in the article and my G4 wont open the wpd document. Any other ideas? thanks

  5. mandehu said:

    you can also use tofu (free) for this.

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