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Re: How to convert .doc to txt

From: address@hidden
Subject: Re: How to convert .doc to txt
Date: Thu, 30 Oct 2003 13:28:31 -0500
User-agent: KNode/0.7.1

Don Saklad wrote:

> In rmail in emacs, how do you convert .doc to txt ?...
> It converted to pdf
> using the free thing at
> but that new pdf wouldn't convert to ascii plain text.
> Nor did that new pdf convert to ascii plain text using the free thing at

I should start this out with the caveat that for some reason I can't receive 
e-mail on Emacs. But for what it's worth.

Emacs doesn't have a built-in function to do this, sadly. For converting 
.docs to text I use antiword. (I have a Linux box.) I save the .doc from my 
regular e-mail program, go into Dired, and use the ! command to use 
antiword. This translates the .doc into text in its own window. I then copy 
it and paste it into another buffer.

I don't do this by hand anymore. I made a macro to do all this and bound a 
shortcut key sequence to it.

Linux has several other ways to convert .docs to other things. Word2x 
(uncapitalized) converts Word 6 files to LaTeX or text. wvWare (that's how 
it's capitalized) converts to HTML. 

There are more.

Be aware that none are perfect and there are some variations in the text 
output. These are the ones I thought worked best. Best thing to do is 

I do what I can do avoid Word files. Whenever someone sends me one I 
politely point out that not everyone has Word on their machine or will go 
out and buy it just to read a few lines of text. I also note that plain 
text, which is just a simple cutting and pasting job, can be read by 
everyone at no risk. Many people avoid attachments because that's where the 
viruses live.

It can also be easier for the sender because with plain text they're not 
tempted to prettify what they're writing. If you need pretty there are PDFs 
and HTMLs.

I've found that if you're nice and reasonable about it, most people will 
comply. They had just never thought about it. I've even had a few thank me. 
Only one has refused outright not to do it. Says she doesn't have the time. 
I can't make her understand it probably takes less time since she won't be 
wasting it on formatting.

So about twice a month I get a .doc file from her. The others I get are from 
people sending me something for the first time or from people that just 

The Free Software Foundation has a suggested text you can send back, but I 
think it's too strong. Worth reading for ideas, though.

Hope this helps.


Author of "Linux for Non-Geeks--Clear-eyed Answered for Practical Consumers" 
and "Boring Stories from Uncle Rod." Both are available at

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