Writer FAQ - Document Management

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This page has FAQs about document management, file formats, and similar topics.

Back to main Writer FAQ page.

Note: Many of these FAQs were originally written for OpenOffice.org 1.x and may not have been updated to reflect changes in OOo 2.x. We are working on checking updating all of them, but this takes a lot of time and more volunteers are needed. If you find an answer that is out of date, please either correct it or leave a comment on the "Discussion" tab of the relevant page.

Up to date information can be found in the Writer Guide, available from the OOo Documentation Project.

Document Management

Can multiple users edit a file concurrently?

No, OpenOffice.org does not support this feature.

How do I convert multiple OpenOffice.org documents to PDF?

If you need to convert several documents from an OOo format to, for example, PDF, you can do this with the following batch converter macro. This method avoids the necessity of converting the documents individually by opening them in OOo and using the menus. OOo Macros -- Document Converter

Some version control menu choices, which I have seen before, do not appear. What's wrong?

Some version management functions become unavailable when you create an index (such as Table of Contents) within your document. Menu choices that will no longer appear include:

  • Edit -> Changes -> Merge Document
  • Edit -> Compare Document

In addition, the 'Compare' button in the 'Versions' dialog (accessed using File -> Versions becomes gray (unusable) when the document contains an index.

How can I search many .odt (or .sxw) files for one word?

Note: Some of this information is under review and may be out of date.
There are at least four ways to do this.

  • A Windows utlity is Google desktop search, which has a plugin which indexes both the old and new openoffice formats (.odt and .sxw). It is fast, and works well with Firefox; but the search results are less easy to sort than Yahoo's and it does not have a built-in preview function, as YDS does.
  • On Windows, you can use Yahoo Desktop Search to index OpenOffice.org 1.x files. By adding .sxw to the list of file extensions searched, you get a fast and fuss-free display of the relevant context as plain text. The search can be phrasewise, Boolean, or refined by date and size. As of July 9 2007, it does not index the content of .odt (OpenOffice.org 2.x) files, though there is a feature request for it to do that. The other drawbacks are that it is Windows only and indexes, by default, every hour or so, since it expects you to be using Outlook and indexing your email as well.
  • A good cross-platform solution is DocSearch, a Java app which searches and indexes OOo files as well as MS Office, text and PDFs. It is easy to use, very fast, allows fancy searches and can be integrated into a toolbar with a macro. However, development work on DocSearch seems to have stopped and the project might be abandoned.
    The drawbacks: it's pretty large (a 5MB download) and doesn't handle non-English characters well. It has no documentation to speak of. You have to configure it to use OOo, Acrobat, and anything else other than IE to open the files it finds (this is under Tools/settings). But it is clearly the best solution for large collections of documents on Linux.
  • Much smaller and simpler, but adequate for everyday use on fast computers is the filefinder written in OOo Basic, one of the macros in Andrew Brown's collection. This ought to install with a single click, though you will still have to put the macro on a toolbar yourself.
    Drawbacks: it is slow with large numbers of files on slow computers.
  • In Linux, you can use Beagle to index and search through your ODF documents.

File formats

What file formats does OpenOffice.org Writer support?

Many different types. The easiest way to see is to use the file dialog (File -> Open) and look at the file types listed there.

Chapter 3, "File Management in OpenOffice.org" in the Getting Started book, includes a list of supported file types. This chapter is available in free PDF from the Documentation Project.

Why does OpenOffice not open MSWorks files (.wks)?

MSWorks files have a proprietary format which is being kept secret by Microsoft. However a reasonable workaround is to save your WKS files as RTF files. OpenOffice can read and write RTF files.

How can I open Microsoft Works wordprocessor files (.wps)?

The libwps library was designed to allow OpenOffice.org, KWord, Abiword, and similar programs to import Microsoft Word wordprocessor documents. Though available since early 2007, the mainstream OpenOffice.org has not incorporated the code (issue #8938). Here are some options:

How to open Works .wps files in OpenOffice.org 2.x?

For instructions, see the Troubleshooting chapter (# 14) of the User Guide, http://documentation.openoffice.org/manuals/OOo2.x/user_guide2_draft.pdf

Does OpenOffice.org support WordPerfect file formats?

Current versions of OpenOffice.org will open WordPerfect files. However, you cannot save to WordPerfect formats from OpenOffice.org

How to open Microsoft Office 2007 documents?

See General: How do I open Microsoft Office 2007 files?.

Why does OpenOffice not support the file format my application uses?

There may be several reasons, for example:

  • The file formats may not be open and available.
  • There may not be enough developers available to do the work (either paid or volunteer).
  • There may not be enough interest in it.
  • There may be reasonable, available workarounds.

A file has an unfamiliar file extension. How do I figure out what kind of file this is?

This web site lists a large number of file extensions.

Be aware that there are sometimes several possible sources for a given file extension. For example, a '.doc' file could be a Microsoft Word, Interleaf, Wordperfect, Wordstar or Frame document.

Files created in other applications do not always display in OpenOffice.org exactly as they did when they were created. Why is this, and what can be done about it?

OpenOffice.org provides the best file filters currently on the market, allowing users to read and edit files from other applications. However, the OpenOffice.org filters do not support some features such as macros.

One of the main goals of OpenOffice.org is to encourage the adoption of open and fully documented file formats and APIs so that in the future, users will never have a problem opening any file. However, until the OpenOffice.org file formats are fully adopted, users should keep in mind the following when opening, reading and editing files from other applications:

  • Hard formatting. Files which rely on hard formatting such as hard returns, hard page breaks, etc. rather than soft spaces, carriage returns, soft page breaks, or tab characters will yield better results.
  • Fonts. Opening files from different applications which use uncommon fonts with few metric equivalents can give the impression that the file formatting is jumbled in OpenOffice.org. Formatting will be best maintained when importing documents using common fonts such as, Arial, Book Antiqua, Bookman Old Style, Century, Century Schoolbook, Courier New, Lucida, MS Mincho, Monotype Sorts, Symbol, and Times New Roman.
  • Unsupported features. Not all features are supported by the file filters, for example, macros, some Table of Contents functionality, some fields, and some footnotes functionality.

Can I edit PDF files?

No, but this functionality is planned for a future release of OpenOffice.org.

How can I do a batch conversion of my MSOffice files into OpenOffice.org file formats?

Use File -> Wizards -> Document Converter and follow the steps in the Wizard.

I found a problem with importing a document, what do I do?

You need to report the problem so that the developers can hopefully fix it for the next release. To do this, you need to join the OpenOffice.org project, and then file a bug report.

Please can someone tell me how to file a bug report - I can't see a link anywhere on the wiki. Thanks!

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