Make OpenOffice or StarOffice Save to Microsoft Excel, Word, or PowerPoint Compatible Files by Default

by Michael on January 20, 2010 · 0 comments

My son has an Asus Eee PC, and he uses it frequently for school projects. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective) he doesn’t have Microsoft Office. Instead, his netbook came with StarOffice (essentially OpenOffice with a fancier name) pre-installed, so he’s using that.

While both OpenOffice and StarOffice are admirable replacements for Microsoft Office, one minor annoyance is that their default file formats can’t be opened by Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint.

In other words, both OpenOffice and StarOffice can open Microsoft file formats, Microsoft (unsurprisingly) doesn’t return the favor. This isn’t a huge deal, as you can save into multiple file formats, including the various MS Office flavors, but…

If you forget to save your presentation as a PowerPoint-compatible file before you put it on a thumb drive and walk away from your computer, you could be screwed.

The good news is that it’s easy to change the default file format. Here are the necessary steps…

Changing your default file format in OpenOffice

  1. Start by opening up and of the OpenOffice apps
  2. Under the “Tools” menu, select “Options”
  3. Click on “Load/Save” to access open the hierarchy
  4. Click on “General” to pull up your options in the main pane
  5. Make your desired changes under “Default file format”

For example, you might specify that a “Text document” be saved in “Microsoft Word 97/2000/XP” format. Similarly, a “Presentation” files could default to “Microsoft PowerPoint 97/2000/XP” format, and your “Spreadsheet” files could default to “Microsoft Excel 97/2000/XP” format.

These files will open seamlessly in OpenOffice (or StarOffice) and will also be perfectly compatible with Microsoft products, so there’s no real reason not to make the change.

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