How to Open .DOC in WordPad

By John Papiewski

Microsoft Word helps WordPad open .DOC files.
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WordPad is an accessory program which Microsoft includes with every copy of Windows. It is a lightweight word processor that allows font changes, simple formatting and graphics, but it does not have Word's extensive features. Although the version of WordPad that comes with Vista and later Windows releases cannot open .DOC files directly, a simple trick to convert them to .DOCX solves this problem. You can then use WordPad to open, read and print the file.

Start the Word program.

Click the "File" tab, then click "Open."

Locate the .DOC file you wish to convert. Select the file and click the "Open" button.

Click the "File" tab, then click "Save As."

Enter a new name in the "File name" box, then click the "Save" button. Word saves the new file as a .DOCX. Close the Word program.

Click "Start | All Programs | Accessories | WordPad."

Click the "File" menu, select "Open," then open the .DOCX file you just saved.


WordPad opens .DOCX format files but saves in its native Rich Text File or plain text formats.

WordPad for Windows XP opens .DOC files directly but does not handle .DOCX.

If you don't own Word, there are free file converters available on the Internet to convert a DOC file to DOCX, such as Zamzar.


Though WordPad can open simple .DOCX files, it will display a warning message if it encounters formatting too complex for it to handle.

When you try opening a .DOC file directly with WordPad, it shows the file as a mixture of text and gibberish formatting codes. This is not file corruption; it is WordPad's way of dealing with a format it no longer supports.