I love Open Office for a variety of reasons. It’s free. It’s open source. It doesn’t force you to pay a lot of money to upgrade by using closed, proprietary file formats.
But it does allow you to open those proprietary file formats (i.e. *.docx, the Word 2007 files). This is a great solution for people that would otherwise be running old versions of Office and don’t want to or can’t install the compatibility pack. One problem that I’ve seen, though, is that people accidentally use the native Open Office file format (i.e. *.odt). This is all well and good in a world where everyone uses the *.odt file… but a lot of people using MS Office won’t be able to open it.
It’s easy enough to save a file as a Word document in Open Office, but it makes life even easier if you set Open Office to do this by default. Here’s how.
Open Up the Options Dialog
Click on the “Tools” menu and then choose “Options.”
Go to Load/Save -> General
On the lefthand side of the Options menu, you should see a bunch of choices – from “OpenOffice.org” at the top to “Internet” at the bottom. The various menus here let you set a lot of options about how Open Office functions.
Look down the list until you see “Load/Save.” There’s a + icon next to it, indicating that you can expand the list and see more options. After clicking on the plus icon, choose “General” from the new list of menus.
Always Save As…
This is one of two related menus. To the left, you can choose a “Document Type” – i.e. text document, spreadsheet, presentation. By default, text document is selected. The “Always save as” menu lets you choose which format Open Office will use when you create a new text document.
If you want to be compatible with non Open Office users, you probably want to change this to a Word document. Click on the drop down menu, and choose “Microsoft Word 97/2000/XP”. Now, all of your Word documents will be save as .doc files.
You may want to do the same thing for Spreadsheets and Presentations, so that both OpenOffice Calc and OpenOffice Impress use the old Microsoft Office format.