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This is a user FAQ for Writer.

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 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 If you find an answer that is out of date, please either correct it or leave a comment on the "Discussion" tab of the relevant page.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, does not support this feature.

How do I convert multiple 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 .sxw (or .odt) files for one word?

Note: Some of this information may be out of date.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

  • On Windows, you can use Yahoo Desktop Search. 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 May 13 2005, it does not index the content of .odt 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 windows alternative is Google desktop search, which has plugins that index 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.
  • The best 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.
    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.

File formats

What file formats does 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" 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 to open Works .wps files in 2.x?

For instructions, see the Troubleshooting chapter (# 14) of the User Guide,

Does support WordPerfect file formats?

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

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.

How can I do a batch conversion of my MSOffice files into 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 project, and then file a bug report.

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