Need an basic office software suite (other than Google Docs) to write simple documents and/or spreadsheets? How much do you want to pay for it? If you answer is nothing, then OpenOffice is a good choice. It looks and functions similar to the original Microsoft Office program suite (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc.) except it’s free to download and use. Keep in mind that compatibility with MS Office is not perfect so for more advanced use this may not suit your needs.
Some information about the similarities:
OpenOffice Writer = (Microsoft) Word (letters or ‘word’ documents)
OpenOffice Calc = Excel (spreadsheets)
OpenOffice Impress = PowerPoint (presentations)
(not perfect equivalents, but much of the functionality is the same)
How to get it & what you need to know:
Download the office suite here and install the program.
Before you start using it though, there’s a few things you should know. It’s a free program, so it saves documents in its own proprietary format (.odf, or .odt). This means that if you need to send these documents to other people, there’s a good chance they won’t be able to open them, unless you make a quick change.
The Quick Fix
Tell OpenOffice to always create new files using the most widely compatible formats (.doc, .xls etc.).
If you’re not a nerdy type, I recommend you do this before you begin using the program, it’ll save you some grief.
1 ) Open OpenOffice Writer, in the menu bar go to: Tools > Options…
2 ) Unfold the “Load/Save” options by clicking on the ‘ + ‘ beside it, then click on General.
3 ) Under Document type, select ‘Text Document” from the drop-down and select “Microsoft Word 97/2000/XP” in the right drop-down. This tells OpenOffice to make all new text documents using the .doc file extension which is easily opened by other people.
4 ) Do the same for spreadsheets: Now select “Spreadsheet” on the left drop-down and “Microsoft Excel 97/2000/XP” in the right drop-down. This makes all new spreadsheets save using the .xls format, which is easily opened by others.
5 ) Click on the OK button at the bottom to accept the changes and close and re-open OpenOffice. The next time you create a word or excel document, your file the extension will automatically be either .doc or .xls.
Note: If you need to work on presentations, do the same for “Presenations” to use the PowerPoint equivalant.
If you need to convert any document to .doc format:
You can convert files to .doc/.docx format using the ‘save as’ command
1 ) Open the file you need converted, go to: File > Save As…
Choose the format you need:
That’s it, you should be ready to go!
There’s also LibreOffice.
Notes: Unmodified Creative Commons post header image sourced here.