Technical support

Though the .odt file format is the international standard (ISO/IEC 26300:2006) for text files, some of the corporations that we know and love have resisted using it in order to make some extra cash.  Try to look surprised.

Fortunately, recent word processing programs usually have no problem working with these files.  However, if you use an older office program or if you’re having problems of another nature, here are some things you might want to try to fix the problem:

Add a plugin to make it work.  For MS Word versions before 2007, you can read .odt files if you install this plugin:  Sourceforge Plugin.

Use an online file converter.  I tested each of the following free file converters in December 2014 and have found that they all worked well at that time.  None of these converters require that you sign up for anything (though they may suggest that you do so for a “better experience.”)  If you have any experiences to the contrary, please email me atmisterguch@chemfiesta.com.

Use another program to convert it for you on your computer.  Basically, if you save the .odt file to your computer, you can then open it with Wordpad and save as a .doc or .docx file.  Instructions can be found here.  If you use a Mac and Pages is your program, some instructions for a similar process can be found here.

Use browser extensions.  Browser extensions are add-ons to your browser that make it easy to do things automatically while you’re online.  Each browser has their own rules, but all of them are pretty much the same.

  • Chrome:  Clicking here will take you to a list of extensions at the Chrome web store that will allow you to convert files automatically.
  • Firefox:  If you search the addon page here by writing .odt in the search box, you’ll find quite a few different suggestions.
  • Safari:  Predictably, Apple won’t allow file converters in their Extensions section. I’ll include a link there anyway, in case they decide to get with the program:  link.

Update your word processor:  If you use Microsoft Word, it’s probably not a bad idea to get the newest version anyway if the one you’re using is a decade old.  Pages for Mac still doesn’t support .odt, however – in fact, the format they use is notoriously incompatible with most file formats.

Get Libre Office:  Libre Office is a free word processor that has the same functionality as Microsoft Word, and is basically indistinguishable in every way.  There is nothing to sign up for, no advertisements, and no “trial version” – it truly is a completely free program that’s organized by a nonprofit organization and developed by a community.  For the most stable release, users of Windows, Mac, and Linux should click here.


Unfortunately, as long as there are companies that make a lot of money with their proprietary software, there will be incompatibility issues between them.  Hopefully, these suggestions will solve your problems!


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