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How to Explore the Contents of a .docx File in Windows 7

How to Explore the Contents of a .docx File in Windows 7Here’s a little known secret: .docx files created by Microsoft Office or Open Office aren’t just one file. They are container files that contain XML files and other files that makeup the Word document that you’ve created and saved. You can explore and extract the contents of a .docx file just like you would with a .zip archive. This is handy for a variety of tasks, including recovering data from a corrupted .docx file to extracting images and other media from a .docx. In this tutorial, I’ll show you an incredibly easy way to explore the contents of a .docx file.

Step 1

Locate a .docx file on your hard drive. Note: If you haven’t already, you need to .

convert docx to folder

Step 2

Right-click the document and choose Rename.

extract docx in win7

Step 3

Add the .zip extension to the filename. Leave the rest of the filename intact.

open xml file in docx

Step 4

When Windows asks you:

If you change a file name extension, the file might become unstable. Are you sure you want to change it?

Click Yes.

docx to .zip

Step 5

You’ll notice that the file’s icon will change to that of a compressed (zipped) folder. Double-click it to explore it.

opening a docx file as a folder


You’ll now be viewing the contents of the .docx file.  There will be a couple of folders here, including _rels, docProps and word. Most of the good stuff is in word.

Step 6

If you want to edit any of the .xml files, you should extract a copy of the .xml file by dragging and dropping it to another folder, such as the desktop.

editing .xml in docx

Use a program like Notepad.exe or Notepad++ to edit it in plain text.

editing docx files in windows 7

Note: You can open and view .xml files without extracting them from the .docx file, but when you go to save the changes, you’ll have to do it outside of the archive anyway.

After you’ve made your changes to the .xml file, drag and drop the edited file from your deskop back into the folder it came from in the .docx folder.


manually edit docx xml in windows 7

When prompted, choose Copy and Replace.

replace .xml files in windows 7

Step 7

When you are done fiddling around in the .docx file, go back and rename it again, but this time remove the .zip extension.

create a new .docx

You can now open it in Word or Open Office.

So, now you know how to rummage around in a .docx file. Stay tuned for the next groovyPost, where I’ll show you some useful ways to edit .docx and .xml files manually.

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4 Responses to How to Explore the Contents of a .docx File in Windows 7

  1. TDarkShadow May 18, 2011 at 7:49 am #

    Can it be used for anything extraordinary?
    Like, a pop-up when opened in Word with the word “I love you” ?

    • Max Haughton November 13, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

      If you embed a vba macro in the word doc then yes

  2. Ziggy May 18, 2011 at 5:46 pm #

    Simply brilliant. Thanks for this handy post. I’ve already used it to great effect. Very important to show hidden extension otherwise it doesn’t work. I can see myself going back to some word files which need this sort of fix. Keep up the good work.

  3. Silent Angel March 13, 2013 at 3:38 am #

    Friend, I am unable to extract open password protected docx file. Any Idea ? By the way its really great job dude.

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