What is a DOC File?

How to Open, Edit, & Convert DOC Files

Screenshot of the DOC file icon used with Microsoft Word

A file with the DOC file extension is a Microsoft Word Document file. It's the default file format used in Microsoft Word 97-2003, while newer versions of MS Word (2007+) use the DOCX file extension by default.

Microsoft's DOC file format can store images, formatted text, tables, charts, and other things common for word processors.

This older DOC format differs from DOCX mainly in that the latter uses ZIP and XML to compress and store the contents while DOC does not.

Note: DOC files have nothing to do with DDOC or ADOC files, so you might double-check that you're reading the file extension carefully before trying to open it.

How To Open a DOC File

Microsoft Word (version 97 and above) is the primary program used for opening and working with DOC files, but it isn't free to use (unless you're on the MS Office free trial).

However, there are several free alternatives to Microsoft Office that include support for DOC files, like Kingsoft Writer, LibreOffice Writer, and OpenOffice Writer. All three of these applications can not only open DOC files but also edit them and save them back to the same format, and the former two can even save the DOC file to Microsoft's newer DOCX format.

If you don't have a word processor installed on your computer, and you don't want to add one, Google Docs is a nice alternative to MS Word that lets you upload DOC files to your Google Drive account to view, edit, and even share the file through your web browser.

It's much faster to go this route instead of installing a word processor application, plus there are added benefits (but also drawbacks) that you can read about in this review of Google Docs.

Do you use the Chrome web browser? If so, you can open DOC files pretty quickly with Google's free Office Editing for Doc, Sheets & Slides extension.

This tool will open DOC files right in your browser that you run into on the internet so that you don't have to save them to your computer and then open them again in a DOC opener. It also lets you drag a local DOC file right into Chrome and start reading it or editing it with Google Docs.

Also see this list of Free Word Processors for some additional free programs that can open DOC files. Open Freely is a general file viewer and editor that can use DOC files too, but it's not as extensive of a word processor as the dedicated ones I mentioned above.

If you find that an application on your PC does try to open the DOC file but it's the wrong application or if you would rather have another installed program open DOC files, see my How To Change the Default Program for a Specific File Extension guide for making that change in Windows.

How To Convert a DOC File

Any good word processor that supports opening a DOC file can most assuredly save the file to a different document format. All the software mentioned above - Kingsoft Writer, Microsoft Word, Google Docs, etc., can save a DOC file to a different format.

If you're looking for a specific conversion, like DOC to DOCX, keep in mind what I said above about those MS Office alternatives.

Another option for converting a DOC file to the DOCX format is to use a dedicated document converter. One example is the Zamzar website - just upload the DOC file to that website to be given a number of options to convert it to.

You can also use a free file converter to convert a DOC file to formats like PDF and JPG. One I like to use is FileZigZag because it's like Zamzar in that you don't have to download any programs to use it. It supports saving a DOC file to lots of formats in addition to PDF and JPG, like RTF, HTML, ODT, and TXT.

More Help With DOC Files

See Get More Help for information about contacting me on social networks or via email, posting on tech support forums, and more.

Let me know what kinds of problems you're having with opening or using the DOC file and I'll see what I can do to help.