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Can't Open docx Files?

Have you received a docx file but can’t open it? Learn how to open docx files with this Word Tip!

Docx is the default file extension in Microsoft Office Word 2007.

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Opening docx files

Man next to large safeTo open docx files, you need to have Word 2007 OR the compatibility pack or a Word viewer installed on your computer.

These instructions work for docx and docm files, but you will not be able to open dotx and dotm files unless you are running Word 2007.

Caution: If you download a docx file or receive one by email, scan it with your anti-virus software before opening it.

Click the statement that best describes your set up. The link takes you to a short tutorial:


Opening a docx file with Word 2007

Do you already have Microsoft Word 2007 installed? Just double-click the file icon to open and edit the file. Still can't open the document? Read the troubleshooting tips on this page for help.

If you don't have Word 2007 installed, you can download the Microsoft Word free trial, then use it to open the docx file.

Or, if you need to open a docx file but don't have Word 2007 installed and do not want to download the free trial, see the Word Tip, How to Open docx files Without Word 2007.

Troubleshooting

Sometimes you cannot open docx files even if you have Word 2007 (or the compatibility pack or viewer) installed.

"Thanks for the advice on recovering broken word files - you saved me hours!!!!"

Peter Stone
President
Peter Stone Consulting, UK

Try these troubleshooting steps if you can't open a docx file with Word 2007 or after installing the compatibility pack, and you need to recover your data.

Password-protected Word documents

If a pop-up window appears asking for a password, you will not be able to open the file without first entering the correct password.

A Word document password is encrypted so you won't be able to crack it. You will have to get the password from the author of the file.

Is this your own file but you forgot the password? Well, you are out of luck unless you have an unencrypted version in a backup file or attached to an email.

Tip: Always write down the password somewhere, even if you think you will remember it.

Word 2007 file will not open

If the file will not open, it may have an incorrect file extension, or it may be corrupted.

Sometimes people type in the wrong extension when saving a file. Try changing the extension from docx to doc or vice-versa to see if it will open. (You might also want to try docm, dotx, or dotm.)

Didn't work? Try a repair.

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Open and Repair a Corrupted Word document


You can repair a file while opening it by following this procedure:

  1. Open Word 2007.
  2. Click the Office Button.
  3. Click Open.
  4. Under File Name, browse to and select the file.
  5. Click the small arrow on the right side of the Open button. Select Open and Repair from the drop-down list.
    Selecting 'Open and Repair' from the list
  6. If the file is repairable, Word will repair and open it.

Remember to save the file before closing it or the repair will be lost.

If the repair does not work and you have tried changing the extension, there is a work-around that should enable you to extract the text from the file.

The “Unzip a Word File ” hack

Data recovery can be a time-consuming task. If you are in a hurry and just need the text from a damaged file, try this hack:

  1. Change the Word 2007 file extension to .zip.
  2. Unzip the file.
  3. Open the Word folder that is inside the unzipped folder. Find the file named document.xml and open it with Notepad.

You can recover the text of the document from the xml file, but all document formatting will be lost.

Additional Help for Data Recovery

If you need additional help recovering your data, read Microsoft Knowledgebase Article 826864.

If you have a large number of damaged files or the files contain irreplaceable or sensitive information, data recovery specialists can usually recover data from a hard drive. (Unless your hard drive is completely smashed to pieces.)

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