Microsoft word open document error

How to fix a document with this warning:

 Open XML file cannot be opened because there are problems with the contents or file name might contain invalid characters

Question Info

Last updated August 15, 2019 Views 9,145 Applies to:
Although there is a slim possibility that the file name contains illegal characters it isn't the most likely cause. You can easily test by locating the file in Finder, renaming it to something strictly containing alpha characters & moving the file to a folder from which you have no problem opening other files. If Word still balks you can be certain that "invalid characters" isn't the problem.

More likely, the file has been damaged in some way or has content that Word cannot interpret. The specific element involved could have been introduced in the file if the document originated from or has been edited by another user. Also, some earlier versions of Word 2007 which haven't been properly updated have been known to create .docx files that can't be opened by other versions of the program.

There are numerous other possibilities, but unfortunately you may never figure out 'why'. The important concern is salvaging the file if you can. These are some options to consider:

  • If you can get a copy of the file to a PC running a fully updated Office 2007 or later, see if you can open the file there. Win Word has more powerful file repair tools than the Mac version. If you can open the file there, examine the content to see if there are any objects that might be the source of the problem. Remove the objects & Save As to create a new .docx file.
  • If no objects, copy all but the last , paste to a new blank document, then use Save As as above.
  • Launch the Open XML Converter app & drag the document into the converter window. If it can, that will generate an .rtf version of the file. Use File> Open from within Word 2011, then Save As in .docx format.
  • In Mac Word 2011, use File> Open & select Recover Text from Any File from the Enable: list. You'll lose any graphic content but may be able to recover the text.
As an MVP my contributions here are purely voluntary.

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Bob J.

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