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Word Processing Compatibility Issues

A reader wrote to ask why she can't open some of the files she receives as email attachments. This is because she doesn't have the same programs on her computer that were used to create the recalcitrant files.

As an example, if someone sends you a text document created with Corel WordPerfect (or Microsoft Works or OpenOffice Writer) and the word processing program on your PC is Microsoft Word you will get an error message saying, "This file does not have a program associated with it."

Another example is receiving a PPS (PowerPoint Show) file when PowerPoint is not on your PC. Likewise, if you receive a PDF (Portable Document File) attachment you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader* to open it.

Well, most of the above scenarios have an easy fix available.

However, in order to use the fix you must be able to see a file name's 3-letter extension, such as ".doc" on MSWord files (MyStory.doc) or ".wpd" on WordPerfect files (MyStory.wpd) or ".wps" on documents created with Microsoft Works (MyStory.wps).
(Some files have 4-letter extensions, such as .html.)

Oddly, however, all versions of Windows have these extensions hidden by default. Here's how to unhide them:

Click on Start>Control Panel>Folder Options>View and deselect the checkbox labeled, "Hide Extensions for Known File Types." We do not want these extensions hidden!

     You can also find this option by opening any folder, such as My Computer, and clicking on Tools>Folder Options>View.

With these extensions visible we can fix most "program incompatibility" problems that may occur. Let's start with word processing documents, such as those created with MSWord or WordPerfect or with the MSWorks word processor.

If you use MSWord and receive a WordPerfect file do this:

1. Launch MSWord to create a blank page.

Files of Type

2. Next click on File>Open.

3. Then click the down-arrow near "Files of Type" (in the lower left corner of your blank document) and look for WordPerfect file name extensions.

Look In: option

4. Click the one you need, and then navigate to your WPD file using the "Look In:" box
(in the top left corner of your blank document). When you find the target file, double-click on it or click Open.

Look In: option

5. WordPerfect users who receive MSWord files will follow the same steps, but will look for MSWord file name extensions indicated in the "File Type" list.

     Other combinations of various word processors will have similar File>Open options.

All the above fixes involve converting an incoming file to a particular program you have. However, an outgoing file can be converted as well.

Let's say you are a WordPerfect user, but most of your contacts use MSWord (the world's most-used word processor, by the way). Before sending them a WordPerfect file, you can make it MSWord-compatible by going to File>Save As, and choosing a version of MSWord from the File Type: list.

Save as Type option

     By the way, WordPerfect users can make their creative documents compatible with dozens of word processing programs (even some that have been obsolete for decades) while MSWord users have a comparatively short list to choose from.

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