Forwarding Address: OS X

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Here's a migration question -- I just came across a bunch of old 11-year-old files created in Microsoft Word 5.1 (side comment: this was Word's apogee, before it descended into terminal featuritis). I've tried opening them in TextEdit, AbiWord, AppleWorks, and OpenOffice. AppleWorks says "the translator could not read this file" (though the MacLink translators work passably for other, newer files). The other three open it up as if it were raw text, with lots of Word file format cruft all over the place. Adding ".doc" to the filenames doesn't noticeably change things.

Assuming the files aren't actually corrupted, what other options do I have? I know I can just copy the text out of there, but that just seems so... crude.


  • Might be worth trying icWord. I've had some success with this at opening really old CW documents, and it can do MS Word also.


    By Anonymous, at 12:00 PM  

  • MacLinkPlus should do the trick:
    You may even be able to get away with just using the demo, if it's a one-time thing.

    Supposedly Tex-Edit Plus is able to open Word files as well, but I'm not sure what version it's support goes back to:

    Unfortunately iCWord can only open Word files beginning with (the lovely!) version 6.

    By Joshua, at 12:14 PM  

  • Actually, MacLinkPlus is what I have -- or so AppleWorks tells me. No love there. I just grabbed the iCWord demo, and while it's true it can't read the formatting of pre-v6 files, it does display them as plain text -- so thanks for that because it's the best option I've seen so far. I also installed the command-line "antiword" via fink, but it says: " is not in a supported Word format. It is probably from Mac Word 4 or 5." I'm getting the sense that Word didn't use a cross-platform file format until version 6, making files like mine extra obscure.

    By pbx, at 12:37 PM  

  • Open them in a recent Word version?

    If nobody around you can do that, I can give it a go for you.


    dda AT sungnyemun dot org

    By Anonymous, at 12:50 PM  

  • The version of MacLinkPlus included with AppleWorks is way different from the standalone utility. I suggest downloading the demo and checking it out; it's likely to be able to convert that Word 5.1 file, formatting and all.

    By Joshua, at 1:50 PM  

  • I'm kinda surprised that such an old format doesn't have more tools to deal with it...

    By Patrick, at 6:40 PM  

  • Yeah. On the other hand, they are ten-year-old files in a proprietary binary format. Joshua, I took a look at the Dataviz site, and indeed MacLinkPlus Deluxe does look like it will deal with these files -- though there doesn't seem to be a free trial available to test this. Luckily I dug up an old copy of Office 98. It violates my self-imposed Microsoft ban, but at least it's sandboxed inside Classic!

    By pbx, at 2:24 PM  

  • You might try using I noticed that it lists WinWord 5 as a filetype.

    By Anonymous, at 12:53 PM  

  • Right, but unfortunately that's a totally different format from Mac Word 5.

    By pbx, at 8:33 AM  

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