Have problems editing *.doc since the recent MacOS update?

I have documents created under Microsoft Word that I still use that go WAY back. Microsoft Word changed its suffix from *.doc to *.docx in 2007, but I have many heritage documents that I continued to revise under new names but with the same *.doc suffix.

That practice needs to change. After installing the security updates (as I posted a day ago) iPhones and iPads users will be updating to iOS and iPadOS 14.4.1, watchOS users would be updating to 7.3.2 and macOS Big Sur would be updating to version 11.2.3

After you update your MacOS, your mouse icon won’t change when placed on your *.doc document. You can’t edit it any more. (I assume the same result applies if you’re running Microsoft Word on your iPad.) Very simple solution — one we should have applied long ago. Open the documents, select File, Save As, and save it as a *.docx file. You won’t have any further problems.

It’s not unreasonable that Apple would remove support for the ancient Word *.doc format but I would have liked a warning. Hence this blog post.

If you’re interested in WHY the suffix changed with the 2007 revision of Microsoft Word, here’s an article that explains both the reasoning and why people like me were reluctant to change to the new *docx suffix. At this point, very few people should still be using the 2003 version of Microsoft Word so your best practice now should be to save all documents to *.docx.


DOC vs. DOCX File Extensions – What is the Difference?

Posted on  by Gail


Some of the most frequent documents that people have to convert are DOC and DOCX. People who have been using word processing software for years seem to suddenly be experiencing problems, but they don’t know why. The difference between DOC vs. DOCX files can be easily explained and if you’re having problems with these documents, either one can easily be converted for easier access and use.

Both the DOC file extension and the DOCX extension come from Microsoft Word, which is part of the Microsoft Office suite of products. This is why both of these file extensions are so popular.

The DOC file extension has been used by Word for a very long time, however, the last time it was included in Word was in Word 2003. The next update for Word occurred in 2007 and their default file extension used for word processing was changed to DOCX. When you’re looking at the DOC vs DOCX question, it basically comes down to how old the MS Word program was that created the original document.

Why the Change From DOC to DOCX?

The DOC file format was proprietary to Microsoft. This means that software from other types of word processing products frequently had trouble reading DOC files because they couldn’t read the files. Microsoft wanted to create a new file extension for word processing that was an open standard format.

That desire for an open product that other companies could also use resulted in the change to DOCX. Because of that, the behind the scene coding work for DOCX was done in XML, hence the “X” part of the DOCX extension. Another benefit of the DOCX file type is that newer features were added that were not possible when using the old coding.

Since Microsoft developed DOCX to be the new standard for word processing, it seems likely that at some point, the DOC file extension will slowly be phased out.

Problems With the DOC to DOCX Conversion

One of the biggest issues that came from this DOC vs. DOCX issue was not being able to open DOCX files when you are using Word from 2003 or before. Since most people do not upgrade their Microsoft Office each time a new product is released, this became a problem. To help with this, MS has made a “compatibility pack” available. In most cases, this should allow an older version of Word to open a DOCX file.

However, like all things related to software, this doesn’t always work. Sometimes, the easiest way to handle the DOC vs. DOCX problem is to simply use an online converter to convert the file type to the one that works best with your version of Word.

You no longer need to be confused by the DOC vs DOCX issue. They are both word processing files from Microsoft Word and the only difference is the year of the program that created them. If you’re having problems, look for the MS compatibility pack. If you have trouble, or don’t have time to mess with that, simply convert your documents.

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