It’s been several years since Microsoft introduced a new document format in its Office 2007 suite called .Docx, but still many people seem to wonder what .docx file is and how to open, read, and edit them!
Note: This article is like a help guide for technically challenged who are looking at how to open .Docx files without having the Microsoft Office suite handy. The article was originally written in 2010 and was recently updated for relevancy in 2020.
Table of Contents
What is a .Docx File?
As mentioned earlier, .Docx is a new word format introduced by Microsoft from Office 2007 onwards, which succeeds the hugely popular .Doc format. It follows the new standard for documents from Microsoft called Office Open XML, which is also known as OOXML or OpenXML. A DOCX file is a document created by Microsoft Word or another word processing program, such as OpenOffice Writer or Apple Pages.
If you are using older versions of Microsoft Office, prior to Office 2007, you cannot directly open Docx files, but there are many alternate ways to open, read and edit .Docx files without MS Office 2007 or later versions installed on your PC or smartphone.
10 Ways to Open .Docx Word Files
When a .docx file cannot be opened by regular means (as listed below), you might need a special tool to repair Word document. The software can preview the contents of the document without MS Word and recover the Microsoft Word files that were damaged.
1. Open .Docx with Older version of MS Office
In case you have Office 2003 or Office 2000, or Office XP installed on your PC, just download the Microsoft compatibility pack and install it. You will be able to read the .docx files in your current installation of Microsoft Office.
2. Using Google Docs
This is one of my favorite ways to open and read .Docx files, as I don’t need to install anything on my PC. Just upload the .docx file to Google Docs (Google Drive) and then use it to open, read, and even edit online. You can also convert it back to .Doc if you wish so! Go to drive.google.com to get started.
3. Install OpenOffice
In case you are not using a Windows PC, then you can install OpenOffice, which can read .Docx files. I would suggest you to download OpenOffice Portable onto your flash drive to make the process easier.
Convert .Docx file to your preferred format
This was what I used to do initially when Microsoft had just introduced the .Docx format. Though there are some freeware available to convert .docx to .doc and other formats, it is better to use these online tools for converting .docx to .doc
b) Docx converter
The Docx-converter Dashboard Widget allows you to convert files right from your desktop. Simply drag the .docx file you want to convert into the drop area of the widget, and the widget will automatically convert the file and save it to the location of the original file.
Using Word Reader
Word Reader is an easy-to-use Free Word Reader, and you can read Microsoft Word 2007 (*.DOCX), Microsoft Word 97-2003(*.DOC), Hyper Text Markup Language (*.Htm,*.Html), Plain Text Format (*.TXT), Rich Text Format (*.RTF). Download Word-Reader here
This online-based word editor is similar to Google docs and allows you to open and view your .docx file with ease. Just opening.Docx file doesn’t need any registration, but if you need to edit and save the documents, you should sign up with them.
Using Internet Explorer
In case you don’t have MS Office and are not connected to the internet as well, even then, you can view the .docx file using IE. The guide here shows you how to do so. Rename the .docx file to .zip, extract using WinZip, open the “Word” folder, look for document.xml and open this .xml file in Internet explorer
Using Word 2007 Viewer
This Microsoft tool lets you view Docx Word documents, even if you don’t have any version of Word installed. You will still need to install the Office Compatibility Pack. Download Word 2007 Viewer
This is a Mac-only solution. The TextEdit program that comes with OSX can create, edit, open, and save documents in Docx format. Alternately, you can also use NeoOffice/J freeware.
Update (17th Sep 2020):
Using Microsoft Word Online on a Computer
You can visit Office.com on your favorite web browser to open and edit .docx files. You will be asked to log in to your Microsoft account, and then you are good to go. This is very similar to the Google Docs option we mentioned earlier in this article.
Using Microsoft Word Mobile
That’s right. Microsoft has a free app for Android and iOS devices to open .docx and other Microsoft Word supported file formats right from your smartphone or tablet.
Additional FAQ on .docx file
Over the years, we have received several questions about the .docx file format. We will try to answer the same here.
How to open docx file in android phone?
This is pretty straightforward. Two of the best document editing apps on the Play Store (and App store) can do that without breaking a sweat. Download either Microsoft Word or Google Drive. There are other options like WPS Mobile, but you don’t have to look beyond the top two word apps we mentioned above.
Why can’t I open docx files?
Certain Docx files can’t be opened due to the reason; that the docx file may be corrupted or it may be password protected. You may try the following methods to open a corrupt .docx file.
MS Word’s in-built method: Open and Reapir – File menu > Open > Select file > click down arrow beside the open button > Open and Repair.
Open with Open Office- Try to open an MS Word document in Open Office.
How do I open a DOCX file without word?
While it was indeed Microsoft who came out with docx file format back in 2007, many others have adopted docx, and you don’t necessarily need Microsoft Word to open docx files anymore. You can install free software like LibreOffice or the popular Google Drive.
How do I open a DOCX file in my browser?
As mentioned earlier, Office.com or drive.google.com are your best bets to open and edit docx files directly on a browser. Luckily, both of them are free of cost.