Open Word DOCX Files in Google Docs

October 26, 2010, By Christian Cawley

With so many options to choose from, it might surprise you that someone has forwarded you a Word document that isn’t in the standard, legacy .DOC format, but is in fact in Microsoft’s new .DOCX format.

After all, we all use .DOC now, don’t we?

Well, not really. Although .DOC became the de facto standard for word processing during the 1990s and early 2000s, since Word 2007 Microsoft have been pushing their new format to become the dominant option.

This means that it is perfectly acceptable for someone to send you documents saved in this format, especially since it has now been used in two consecutive releases of Microsoft Office.

But what if you don’t use Office? In fact, what if you don’t even use a desktop office productivity suite at all?

How, exactly, do you open .DOCX files in Google?

Why Did Microsoft Introduce .DOCX Files?

First of all, let’s have a look at why Microsoft decided to change their popular, almost universal format, in favour of this new option.

Although .DOC was being used by many different applications – something that afforded considerable cross-platform support – Microsoft correctly identified that in its current state, this format would be unable to effectively deliver rich document formatting without the footprint of these documents increasing considerably. As a result, Microsoft utilised XML – a form of the HTML mark-up language used to build web pages – and developed their new .DOCX format, released in Word 2007 and supported in Word 2010.

Ultimately, where Microsoft treads with Office apps, others soon follow. It wasn’t long before Open Office and other competitor applications were offering support for the new open XML based document format, not to mention the corresponding new file formats in the other Microsoft products, such as PowerPoint’s .PPTX and Excel’s .XLSX.

How to Open and Use .DOCX in Google Documents

While other office solutions have developed to provide compatibility with Microsoft Office Word’s .DOCX format, Google hasn’t exactly been lagging behind. In fact, despite not initially supporting the format when Google Documents was in beta, you can now access a .DOCX file in Google.

In order to open and use a .DOCX format document in Google Documents, simply open it as you would any other file!

Login to Google, and from the More menu drop down choose Documents. Note the Select conversion options section. Click the File types and size limits link to display the available text formats.

From here, choose the Upload… button, then Select files to upload. Once you have added the files you want, click the Start upload button. Once the file is uploaded, you can click on the file name to begin editing it!

After editing, the file can be saved online in your Google account’s storage, and either attached to an email via Share > Email as attachment or a link to it can be shared to collaborators. You might even publish the document to the web!

Using this method, you are not only limited to .DOCX files either. Standard .PPT and .PPS format files for PowerPoint can be converted, as can .XLSX format Excel documents, OpenDocument .ODT files and StarOffice .SXW format documents!

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