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SPECIAL REPORT : Document Viewers

This site offers documents which normally must be read using programs which you might not have. This page tell you how you can get either free document viewers (free software to view and print documents) or Free OpenOffice and LibreOffice Software (free software to edit, view, and print documents).

Introduction

The most common document files are:

  • .DOC Files: Microsoft Word Document Files
  • .ODT Files: OpenOffice Document Files
  • .PDF Files: Adobe (Acrobat) Reader Files
  • .PPT Files: Microsoft PowerPoint Files
  • .XLS Files: Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet Files
  • .XPS Files: Microsoft XPS Files

Ideally everyone should be able to read and print these documents, but some people don’t have the software to do so. This discusses what you can do if you lack the software.

For many common types of documents you can get free programs that let you read and print the documents, but not edit them. For example, the free Adobe (Acrobat) Reader can open and print Adobe (Acrobat) files — often called PDF files because the names of such files end with ‘.PDF’ — but this software cannot edit these files. For more about this, see the section below, Free Document Viewers.

For documents in the OpenDocument format, instead of a free viewer there are free software packages which let you read, print, and edit such files. For more about this, see the section below, Free OpenOffice and LibreOffice Software.

Note: certain types of documents are so commonly found on the Internet that, if you don‘t have the software to view them, you should install the necessary software immediately. These common types of documents include PDF (Adobe Acrobat) files and DOC (Microsoft Word) files.

Free Document Viewers 

This discusses document viewers — free software to view and print documents, but not to edit them. For example, if you get a Microsoft Excel document from a website or email message, but you don’t have Microsoft Excel, you can use the free Microsoft Excel Viewer to read and print the document.

Caution : the companies which offer you these viewers may try to trick you into installing additional software which you might not need and do not want. For example, a page which offers a free download of a document viewer may offer additional software which will also be downloaded unless you say otherwise: the installation procedure for a document viewer may do likewise. You should examine each web page and each step in the installation procedure carefully, to ensure that you install only what you truly want.

Free document viewers are available for documents in these formats:

  • Adobe Acrobat (.PDF) - get the Adobe Reader. Note: this is the standard format for distributing documents. I therefore recommend that you install it on all your PCs.

  • Microsoft Excel (.XLS) - get the Excel Viewer.

  • Microsoft Word (.DOC) or Rich Text Format (.RTF) - get the Word Viewer. Note: this is a very common format for distributing documents. I therefore recommend that you install it on all your PCs unless you already have Microsoft Word.

  • Microsoft PowerPoint (.PPT) - get the PowerPoint Viewer.

  • Microsoft XPS (.XPS) - get the XPS Viewer / Generator.

Free OpenOffice and LibreOffice Software 

OpenOffice and LibreOffice are free software that offer many of the features of Microsoft Office. They create files that conform to a recognized international standard.

You can get OpenOffice from the OpenOffice website. Note that the installation file is very large, so it might not be practical for you to install it if you do’t have a high speed Internet connection. Note also that you don’t have to install the full software: you can, for example, install just the word processor.

You can get LibreOffice from the LibreOffice website. Note that the installation file is also very large, so it may not be practical for you to install it if you don’t have a high speed Internet connection. Note again that you don’t have to install the full software: you can, for example, install just the word processor.

You can also get a free version of StarOffice, normally sold by Sun Systems, from Google, in Google Pack.

You can also get free software from IBM which is based on OpenOffice, which can use OpenOffice files, and which may be easier to use.

 

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