Convert old Word (.doc) files to standard (.docx) files

Mac MVP James Gordon has posted directions on how to convert old Word (.doc) files to (.docx) files using an Automator workflow.

What does this converter do?

You choose one (.doc) file, several (.doc) files, or an entire folder filled with (.doc) files and the converter will save a copy of each Word file in standard open XML file format, better known as the “new” (actually more than 5 years old now) Word (.docx) format. This converter works with regular Word documents that do not contain macros.

Requirements: This workflow requires Microsoft Office 2011 Home & Business. The Office 2011 Home & Student version does not contain Automator workflows.

[Note: Updates to Office for Mac 2011 have broken the Automator actions used in this workflow. Send Microsoft feedback if you would like to see Automator support fixed.]

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6 comments to Convert old Word (.doc) files to standard (.docx) files

  • arkani

    FYI – DOCX is NOT a standard. Seriously, do some researching.

  • For better or worse .docx is the standard for office word processing documents. Ecma is the non-profit international standards organization that set the standard. Microsoft Office 2010 and 2011 fully supports the strict version of the standard as the default file format for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Apple offers partial support for the standard, as does the latest version of LibreOffice.

  • ukelele

    Can this Automator conversion process be used with documents that were created in 1994? I have been trying to batch convert hundreds of documents created in 1994 to the current day .docx format, and I am having no luck using Automator. It doesn’t seem to recognize this older file format.

  • I don’t think Word 2011 can open files saved in pre-1997 formats, despite their having .doc file extensions. I’m sure Word 2004 can, and I think 2008 can.

    • David

      I am in the same boat as ukelele. (By the way, my 1994-era Word files do not have any extension, .doc or otherwise.)

      I can open the files in Word 2008 using File > Open (although not by double-clicking or dragging to the Word icon) and save them as .docx with no problem. I am fairly certain that 2004 still let you open them directly.

      I would be very grateful for a method of automating this procedure using either Word 2004 or preferably 2008.

      • David, I am pretty sure your observation is correct. Office 2008 is the last version of Office on the Mac that can open, edit, and save pre-1997 files.

        Word 2008 supports Automator actions (except home and student). You should be able to craft a similar Automator action for Word 2008.

        Word 2004 supports VBA (but not Automator). If you have installed the updates, Word 2004 should be able to save in .docx. You would need a macro or an Applescript to automate the updating process.