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What is a DOCX File?

How to Open, Edit, & Convert DOCX Files


DOCX Files

Question: What is a DOCX File?

Did you find a DOCX file on your computer and wonder what program should open it? Maybe someone emailed you a DOCX file but you're not sure how to use it. Perhaps you tried to open the DOCX file but Windows told you that it could not open it.

Before you can open a DOCX file (assuming it's even a file format that's intended to be viewed or edited), you'll need to determine what kind of file the .DOCX file extension refers to.

Answer: A file with the DOCX file extension is a Word Microsoft Office Open XML Format Document file.

Older versions of Microsoft Word used the DOC file extension.

Other types of files may also use the DOCX file extension. If you know of any additional file formats that use the .DOCX extension, please let me know so I can update this information.

How To Open a DOCX File

The easiest way to open a DOCX file is to double-click on it and let your PC decide which default application should open the file. If no program opens the DOCX file then you probably don't have an application installed that can view and/or edit DOCX files.

Warning: Take great care when opening executable file formats received via email or downloaded from websites you're not familiar with. See my List of Executable File Extensions for a listing of file extensions to avoid and why.

Microsoft Office Word (version 2007 and above) is the primary software program used to open DOCX files and edit DOCX files. If you have an earlier version of Microsoft Word, you can download the free Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack to open, edit, and save DOCX files in your older version of MS Word.

If you don't have any version of Microsoft Office, there are several completely free word processor programs that open and edit DOCX files, such as Kingsoft Writer and OpenOffice Writer. See this list of Free Microsoft Office Alternatives to find more software that can use DOCX files. The now defunct Microsoft Works also opens DOCX files. While not free, Corel WordPerfect Office is another option. 

If you know of any additional programs that open DOCX files, or anything else helpful about DOCX files, please send me a quick email and let me know so I can update this page.

If you find that an application on your PC does try to open the DOCX file but it's the wrong application or if you would rather have another installed program open DOCX files, see my How To Change the Default Program for a Specific File Extension guide for making that change in Windows.

How To Convert a DOCX File

There are three main ways to attempt to convert a DOCX file to another file type:

  • Open the DOCX file in its default program and choose to save the open file as another file format.
  • Use DOCX Converter, an online DOCX converter tool that allows you to export your DOCX file into one of several other formats including the older DOC format, PDF, plain text format, and more.
  • Use Calibre (to convert to eBook formats) or another File Conversion Online Service or Software Program to convert the DOCX file to another file format.

The first option involving opening the DOCX file in its native program is preferable because it's both easier and will probably result in a more accurate file conversion. Of course if you don't have a program that opens DOCX files, a third-party file conversion tool (the second or third option) could be very useful.

Important: You cannot usually change a file extension (like the DOCX file extension) to one that your computer recognizes and expect the newly renamed file to be usable. An actual file format conversion using one of the methods described above must take place in most cases.

Still Having Problems Opening or Using a DOCX File?

See Get More Help for information about contacting me on social networks or via email, posting on tech support forums, and more. Let me know what kinds of problems you're having with opening or using the DOCX file and I'll see what I can do to help.

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