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Read Microsoft Word Files

Do you need to send or read Microsoft Word files, but you prefer to keep a Microsoft-free environment on your own computer? TextEdit can open Word files and save as Word files. Some of the advanced features will be missing, but this works great for basic text documents, including those with simple tables or numbered/bulleted lists.

If you don’t have Microsoft Word installed on your Mac, file names ending with .doc or .docx (which are usually Word files) automatically open in TextEdit when you double-click them.

To force a Word document to open in TextEdit (if it doesn’t automatically), drag the file and drop it on the TextEdit icon.

If TextEdit is not in your Dock, it’s in the Applications folder and in Launchpad: Click the Launchpad icon in the Dock. Find the TextEdit icon, then drag and drop it in the Dock so it’s always easily accessible.

Change the default application to open Word files

If you own Microsoft Word and want your .doc files to open in Word, not TextEdit, you can change the default application:

  1. Control-click (or right-click) the Word document icon to get its pop-up menu.
  2. While the menu is visible, also hold down the Option key. This changes the “Open With” command to “Always Open With.”
  3. Choose “Always Open With.” If Microsoft Word is on your Mac, you’ll see it listed in the pop-out menu. Or select “Other...,” then choose the application you want to always open the selected file.

Save TextEdit files as Word docs

You can save any TextEdit file as a Microsoft Word document to send to people who insist on that format.

To save a TextEdit file as a Word document:

  1. Go to the File menu and choose “Duplicate.”
  2. Press Command S to save this duplicate.
  3. In the “File Format” menu at the bottom of the dialog box, choose “Word 2007 Format (docx).” This automatically adds the Word extension, .docx, to the end of your file name.

    If you don’t see an extension (see page 444) at the end of a file name—and you want to—click the disclosure button to the right of the “Save As” field (circled below). Uncheck the box to “Hide Extension.” To show the extension, of course, check the box.

Save TextEdit files as PDFs

From the File menu, choose “Print...,” then click the “PDF” button (in the bottom-left corner of the Print dialog). Choose “Save as PDF....”

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