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Opening Unrecognizable Documents

Beverly from St. Lucia asks:

When I’m trying to open some of my documents, I get the message: Select the encoding that makes your document readable Text Encoding: Windows (default); MS DOS; Other Encoding Everything looks foreign to me, please help.

Beverly, I replicated the message you got, by trying to open a PDF file from Microsoft Word. Before we get into the fix, you need first understand why this message appears.

Why did This Message Appear?

Applications such as Microsoft Word, support specific file types. If you are trying to open a file that is not supported, the application does not recognize the format of the document and tries to convert it. As you can see, the built-in conversion utility in Microsoft Word is not great at converting documents. However, there are plug-ins available that you can install.

How to view such documents?

The simplest way to read documents that aren’t supported, is to install the software or plug-in that supports it. This may be an expensive proposition. Alternatively, you could convert the file to a supported format using software conversion software, such as Word Viewer. For example, you could convert a PDF file into the DOC format so that Microsoft Word can read it and you can then edit the document. Good software conversion software is usually not free.

Google Docs offers free conversion when you upload documents. The supported files are:

For spreadsheets: .xls, .xlsx, .ods, .csv, .tsv, .txt, .tsb

For documents: .doc, .docx, .html, plain text (.txt), .rtf

For presentations: .ppt, .pps (.pptx is not supported)

For drawings: .wmf

For OCR: .jpg, .gif, .png, .pdf

I’d recommend trying to view the document using Google Docs. For more on Google Docs, refer to the What You Can Do With Google Docs tip. You can also experiment with OpenOffice. For more, refer to the Opening .wps Files tip.

~Rupen Sharma