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How to Open a DOCX File

Nov 21 2023

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5 min

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Document Management

MS Word


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5 min


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Ever wonder how to open that Word document in the .DOCX format? Don’t worry! We're covering a seemingly simple task that is key to every digital worker’s productivity: opening a DOCX file!

In this guide, we’ll help you understand what a DOCX file is, how to open it in different ways, and a few tips on how to work with DOCX files without Word.

This is your complete guide to working like pro with the Microsoft format.

What is a .DOCX file?

As the default format for Microsoft Word since 2007, the DOCX format is a more efficient file format than DOC that results in smaller file sizes.

The word "DOCX" combines the terms "DOC" and "XML" (the XML markup language known as Open Office XML).

A DOCX file is essentially a zip file that contains all of the document's XML files. Hence, the format is more flexible than DOC, supporting different elements like images and media.

And unlike the DOC file format, DOCX files are compatible with newer and older versions of Microsoft Word, ensuring that users in a paperless office can work with current and earlier versions as well.

Why can’t I open a DOCX file?

There could be a number of answers to this question: low disk space, a corrupted file, protection on the document or even just not having access permissions.

Thus, first ensure that you’ve eliminated the simple obstacles – get the password to protected files, ask for permission access, and close off all other apps. If it comes down to a corrupted file in MS Word, try using the Open and Repair option from MS Word.

In other cases, it may just be a simple matter of having the right tools to open the file format.

How to open a DOCX file

If so, we've got a few tips that’ll help. If you’ve ever asked, what program opens up .docx files?, this section has your answer. There are different programs and apps that can do the job for you easily.

How to open DOCX on Windows

The first method for opening DOCX files is, of course, using Microsoft Word. If you don’t usually work with MS Word, don’t worry. It's easy to use once you get started.

Once you have MS Word installed, you can simply double-click on your file and the DOCX document will open in the application. Or, follow the steps below:

1. In MS Word, go to the File tab in the menu.

2. Click on Open.

3. Go to where your file is located. If you can’t find the folder your file is located in, click on Browse to search other folders on your computer.

Open DOCX file in Word

4. When you find your file, select it and either click on your file to open it if you see it listed, or click on Open in Windows Explorer if you browsed your computer for it.

5. Double-click on your DOCX file, and it will open in Microsoft Word.

How to open a DOCX file on a Mac?

If you’re using a Mac computer, you might have Microsoft 365 for Mac, in which case you can simply double-click your file and open a DOCX file.

However, for others who don’t have the app installed, fear not! There are other alternatives you can use to access your DOCX file.

Using the Pages app:

Because Pages is installed right on your Mac, it’s the most basic way to open DOCX on your computer. Here’s how:

1. Open the Pages app. 

2. Click on File > Open.

3. Find your DOCX file and click on it.

Opening Docx file on Mac

Note that Pages will open the document by converting it to a new Pages file. As such, some slight variations may occur in formatting. However, you can still edit the document as needed. To save changes in DOCX format, though, you need to export the file into Word when you’re done.

Expert Tip: You can speed up the process by also right-clicking on the file and open your DOCX file by selecting Pages in the context menu.

Using the Preview app:

To use the Preview app to open a DOCX file, follow these steps:

1. Go into the Preview app.

2. Go to File > Open.

3. Find your DOCX document and open it by clicking on it.

While you may not be able to edit your DOCX file in Preview, you’ll be able to view the file without issue.

How do I open a DOCX file online?

You can open DOCX files online – even without MS Word. So if you need to quickly view the document, there are apps like Xodo that will let you open your DOCX files right in your browser.

Open and edit DOCX online

Once you have your DOCX file open, the next step is, of course, working with the document. And Xodo makes the process seamless with a dedicated DOCX editor. Here’s how: 

1. Go to the Xodo's online DOCX Editor.

2. With your document opened in the interface, click anywhere on the page to start editing the document normally.

Edit docx online with Xodo

Closely customize and match the text of your DOCX content by selecting your font, font size and colour, formatting, spacing, and headings.

3. When you’re done, you can Download your newly edited DOCX file or Save a copy to your Xodo Drive or Google Drive.

And if you need to share the finalized version of your DOCX, you can also use Xodo to convert your DOCX to PDF securely on the spot.

Use Xodo to work instantly with DOCX files

From opening and viewing to converting and editing your DOCX files online, your work on DOCX documents never needs to be put on hold.

And moreover, with tools like Xodo you go beyond dealing with just DOCX files; it's your tool for developing a seamless document management workflow.

The Xodo platform has more than 30 tools available to help work with even the toughest of formats like the PDF.

So the next time you're faced with a DOCX, go beyond the basics, embrace the possibilities, and let Xodo be your guide. Happy exploring!

Try Free for 7 Days

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Reena Cruz

PDF Productivity Expert

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