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Repairing Corrupt Word 2007 Files

Here’s how to bring a .docx files back to life.

Chris: I recently started a new job and most of the documents that I work with are Word 2007 files. Nearly all of them open without a hitch, but there are a couple that will not open. I think they are corrupt and was wondering if there was a way that I can at least salvage some of the information in them.

Beth, fortunately for you all hope is not lost. Normally, when Word 2007 detects a corrupt file, it will automatically try and repair it while it is opening the file. You can also force this behavior by taking the following steps:

  1. In Word 2007, click the Office button and select Open.
  2. In the Open dialog box, click on the corrupt file that you would like to open and then click the small down arrow next to the Open button. This will bring up the Open menu.
  3. In the Open menu, select "Open and Repair."

Word will now attempt to repair the corrupted file and then open it for viewing or editing. With Word 2003, a similar feature existed. When "Open and Repair" failed to resuscitate a corrupt Word .doc file, I would then try and open the file using OpenOffice, which usually did the trick. According to the OpenOffice Wiki, the Office 12 Import Filter will be available with OpenOffice 3.0. This will allow you to open Word 2007.docx files using OpenOffice. Note that there are a few hacks online that will allow you to do this today with OpenOffice running on Linux.

Here's one example:

Finally, one other approach is to convert the .docx file to a .doc file using an online converter, and I have found the online Docx converter to work really well.

If you would like to convert the files using Word 2003, you can use the Office 2007 Compatibility Pack, which is documented in the article, "Open a Word 2007 document in an earlier version of Word."

While the new file formats in Office 2007 may have caused some initial compatibility issues, their open XML format will actually ease compatibility well into the future. Tighter integration with Microsoft Office and OpenOffice is just the start of what's to come.

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Beth, recovery from backup or an earlier shadow copy is always the best alternative for dealing with a corrupt Microsoft Office file. When a backup isn't available, then recovering the file with the Open and Repair Word 2007 feature or an online .docx-to-.doc converter are your next best bets.

If anyone else has additional tips and tricks for bringing a corrupt .docx file back to life, please post them as comments to this article.

About the Author

Chris Wolf is a Microsoft MVP for Windows --Virtual Machine and is a MCSE, MCT, and CCNA. He's a Senior Analyst for Burton Group who specializes in the areas of virtualization solutions, high availability, storage and enterprise management. Chris is the author of Virtualization: From the Desktop to the Enterprise (Apress), Troubleshooting Microsoft Technologies (Addison Wesley), and a contributor to the Windows Server 2003 Deployment Kit (Microsoft Press).learningstore-20/">Troubleshooting Microsoft Technologies (Addison Wesley) and a contributor to the Windows Server 2003 Deployment Kit (Microsoft Press).

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Reader Comments:

Sat, Jul 27, 2013 amit delhi

how to open corrupted word file

Sat, Jul 27, 2013 amit delhi

how to open corrupted word file

Tue, Jul 9, 2013 Phyl GH

I tried using the open Office but all the words have changed into (demo). I don't know why this is happening.

Mon, Jul 8, 2013 kelly.cena

I found an easy way to solve:recover lost text from a Microsoft Word document. I used third party applications tool named "Kernel for Word recovery tool". Software repair corrupt, damaged or inaccessible MS Word Documents(.doc, .dot, .docx, .docm, dotx, and .dotm) files.

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 Sharon Bath, ME

Thank you so much Chris for this article. It was so easy to follow. I tried the MS site, and they have to make everything so complicated. I'm a novice at trying to fix problems, and this was a breeze. Thanks again!

Fri, Jan 25, 2013 Raghunathan Chennai - India

I need Word file repaire software in online

Mon, Jun 25, 2012 Jawad Karachi Pakistan

Repairing Corrupt Word 2007 Files

Sun, Jun 24, 2012 Katrina Taiwan

sorry, IN FACT. (not in face)Sorry for my typo! In fact, just switch over to Open Office completely :-)

Sun, Jun 24, 2012 Katrina Taiwan

I agree. I had many corrupt files and no amount of trying other ways would recover them. I saw the post about Open Office and remembered that my friend told me about this awesome program. I installed it on my work PC and voila - the files were opened without any difficulty in just a few minutes. OPEN OFFICE is the best and easiest way to go if you have any file issues. In face, just switch over to it completely ;-)

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 Ajay Parmar Bhavnagar

I am trying to repair the word file but problem not resloved, error shows that all the words are converting in other language and not readable

Sat, Jan 21, 2012 Paul D Pruitt United States

This is a pretty comprehensive list of free and freeware corrupt Word recovery methods. It starts with doc files. The second section is about docx recovery.

Fri, Dec 16, 2011 Lawrence Novva Bangalore India

I understand this was said here before and I say it again.. those who suggested OpenOffice (any latest version) to fix corruption issues with Microsoft Word document(.docx) has indeed suggested brilliantly. OpenOffice is amazing!. Its a shame that Microsoft cannot fix issues from their own product! I was struggling for hours with a menacing message "There was an error opening the file" and finally struck gold with OpenOffice 3.3.0, not only opened but fixed corrupted data. It simply saved tons of my work from utter disaster, a promise from Microsoft!, coz none of the solutions from MS worked. Here on, I plan to use OpenOffice regularly. A big thank-you to OpenOffice and all those individuals who aptly suggested it. Thanks-a-ton!

Sun, Nov 27, 2011

Dear Chris, BTW...the 'Open and Repair' function did not work either. How about "repair and open" ;-)

Sun, Nov 27, 2011

Dear Chris, Here is a bit of a challenge: Password protected docx file has lost (somehow) the password-> every software shows file with "no password" only Office Word requests the password then rejects it. Office Converter failed to convert the docx file to doc. In Notepad the file content shows encrypted text. How to solve this riddle? A nightmare when somehow in transfer your pw becomes dysfunctional. Thanks.

Sun, Jun 26, 2011 Lorence

Hi, I wondered why all my Microsoft Word documents suddenly showed weird signs instead of the text. As I looked into it I found that this was indeed the case. All the symbols in the documents were replaced by  (squares). And it wasn't just one document, but all the *.DOC files in her My Documents directory were suddenly corrupted. What would be the best action i can apply to solve this problem, thanks.

Thu, May 12, 2011 jean


Sun, May 8, 2011 Sarah UK

This is a brilliant piece of advice! If you can find the .asd rescue document, download Open Office and it will re-open it as a word document. I lost some of my graphics, but all the text from a significant piece of work was saved. Thanks for the help!

Thu, Apr 21, 2011 Sophie

I tried Open Office and online converter, but neither worked. Then I tried to unzip the docx but the document.xml is also corrupted. So I turned to WordFix on but it didn't work either. I suspect the corruption was caused by not shutting down properly due to battery failure. Not sure if there is a way to recover the document. It's good to know about Open Office. I'll try and see if I can live without MS Office.

Wed, Feb 23, 2011 Charles Cardiff

Thanks you sooooooo much for recommending the Open Office program to sort out corrupt files! Worked a treat and was quick and easy. Thankyou

Thu, Feb 3, 2011 LL London

Thanks so much for this - I used an online .docx to .doc converter and saved about a week's worth of work. Much better than Microsoft's own support site which suggested reinstalling printer drivers, changing the global template and various other finicky things - none of which worked!

Mon, Aug 30, 2010 sopha cambodia

can you help me ! my document are corrupted from khmer font to number of page. they are a content in the my pages. Ex: in page 1 -> content are all number 1 only. in page 2 -> -> content are all number 1 only. ............... i wait for ur respond. good luck !

Tue, Jul 27, 2010 c Canada

Whoever suggested Open Office is pure brilliant! Thank you! Now Microsoft should learn a thing or two here.

Sat, Oct 17, 2009 Carolyn dublin

Can anyone help? My word file just shut down, no warning, i had saved along the way but when i opened the file again it was the original version. tried to find an autosave version, found a ~ file. tried to open it, it was corrupt. opened it in open-office, it was just one sentance about the type of font. found a .asd file, it apparently doesn't exist anymore. is there anything else i can do? any idea why it closed in the first place?

Mon, Aug 24, 2009 Kelli Chicago, IL

I love the person who suggested downloading Open Office and opening the file from there...I was so excited when I seen my original article open up that I jumped and down screaming yes!!! Thanks so much :-)

Fri, Jul 24, 2009 Paul Pruitt Bethesda, USA

I have been working on more options to recover text for free from corrupt Office files. If you need formatting, try Open Office per the suggestion...If that doesn't work, I now have a free web service that uses three different algorithms to recover 3 versions of your text with one maybe better than another - free web service for recovering corrupt Office 2007 files. Also Open Office and non-corrupt doc and rtf, although your welcome to try corrupt doc and rtf, maybe it'll work...not sure for those 2 extensions. Also I commissioned a third solution: - new app, new engine. Not incorporated in service yet. Direct download :-). Check with your antivirus to confirm OK...These links are self serving in some ways as I get ad revenue...

Mon, Jun 22, 2009 Lynne Smith Rock Island, IL

I am trying to repair a corrupt file. I can't get beyond opening the file. I do not have a down arrow on my open button unless the open button you refer to is not in the office button. HELP!! I don't know where to go from from here.

Fri, May 29, 2009 Paul Pruitt Bethesda, MD

As I said in my first comment earlier, I have a piece of freeware off my home page,, which will salvage the text from a corrupt Word 2007 docx format file even when Word fails at the same salvaging. It's out of beta now. Docx files are conventionally zipped collections of XML files mainly. The text is all found in one XML file, the document.xml file within the collection. My program uses an unzipper which tolerates zip corruption and then uses an algorithm that tolerates corrupt XML to extract the text from the document.xml file. From the errors Word 2007 returns it appears Word 2007 does use an unzipper that is tolerant of zip corruption but uses a module or algorithm that is intolerant of XML file corruption. This is fairly standard. XML as a medium is intolerant of file corruption. If the document.xml file is corrupt at all, Word 2007 will not salvage any text. My freeware though will return the text including the corruption. This is because it only removes the XML hypertext around the text. It does not care about XML well-formedness, whereas, Microsoft Word 2007 does seem to, just like the vast majority of XML interpreters.

Wed, Apr 15, 2009 Paul Bethesda, MD, USA

I did a hack using the Perl doc2txt script and CakeCMD that recovers the text from corrupt docx files. I added a Tk GUI. The results are being released a beta freeware on my home page You should be able to recover text from a lot of corrupt docx files. There are other data recovery freeware listed on my site.

Sun, Dec 7, 2008 MugooKubwa nairobi

This article just saved me hours of work and USD 95. I used Openoffice 2.4 to recover a docx file and it opened the document right away. All the tables, diagrams were intact. Thanks a bunch.

Tue, Jul 31, 2007 Trevor London

You also have the option to salvage what text you can from the XML files. I would try the options written above first though as this is last ditch stuff.
Change the extension of the file to .zip (Word 2k7 'zips' files when saving.) You can then open it and see the contents - you may be able to save the text of the document this way.

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