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How to Use or Convert WordPerfect Files under OS X


Four ways to use WP files under OS X | Files that must be converted by hand | The WPLO Converter | The WP Converter | Convert WPMac files with Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and other scriptsLibreOffice and other Mac-based word processors | Other Mac-based conversion softwareHome page


Read this first: The information on this page is designed for users of any Intel-based Macintosh, running any version of OS X, or any PowerPC-based Mac running OS X 10.5 "Leopard." Users of older PowerPC-based Macs can use WordPerfect for the Macintosh directly on their systems, as decribed on a separate page about WPMac in the OS X "Classic" environment.

If you don't know which kind of Mac you have, click the Apple icon on the upper left corner of the screen, then click "About this Mac". In the "About this Mac" dialog box, look at the line that begins "Processor." If you see the word "Intel," then you have an Intel-based Mac. If you see "Power PC" then you have a PowerPC-based Mac. The same dialog box will also tell you which version of OS X you have.

If you have WordPerfect for DOS or WordPerfect for Windows files that you want to open in Microsoft Word for the Mac, you may ignore this page and go directly to another page on this site.

If you want to open or use WordPerfect files in Microsoft Word for Windows, see a separate page.


Four ways to use WP files under OS X

1. Run WordPerfect for Windows under Parallels Desktop or VMware Fusion. The commercial applications Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion can both run a Windows application in a window on the OS X desktop, and both work surprisingly well to integrate a Windows application into OS X. You will need a copy of Windows itself in order to use these applications. Search the web for the web sites of these programs. A free application, VirtualBox, can accomplish similar feats, but is infinitely more difficult to set up.

2. Run WordPerfect for DOS under emulation software (recommended only for experienced users of WPDOS). Various methods to perform this feat are described on a separate pages for this site's recommended DOSBox method and other, more complex methods based on Windows and either Parallels Desktop or VMware Fusion.

3. Run WordPerfect for the Macintosh under software that emulates an old 68K or PowerPC Mac (recommended only for experienced users of WPMac). These methods are described on separate pages for a recommended and well-integrated system and a less-advanced alternative system, mostly for older Macs.

4. Convert your WP files into Word or RTF format for editing in Microsoft Word, LibreOffice, Pages, or some other Mac-native software; or convert your WP files into PDF format for distribution but not for editing. Different methods for converting WP files may be found on the rest of this page. These methods are as follows:


Files that must be converted by hand or that have other restrictions

Password-protected files. Open these files in a copy of WordPerfect; remove the password; and then convert the file.

WPMac files that use fonts provided by the Mac OS "Language Kits" (Japanese, Korean, etc.).  These files can be converted by the WPLO Converter, or you may try the obsolete method described elsewhere on this page.


The WPLO Converter

This standalone conversion program is based on the conversion software in the LibreOffice word-processor, which uses the most recent version of the open-source lipwpd WordPerfect import filter. The converter was devised by the creator of this site; if you find it useful, please feel to make a contribution to the site.

By default, it exports files to .DOC format, but can be customized to export to .RTF or PDF formats instead. (See a separate section for more details about LibreOffice.)  The program may also be used to convert files in modern formats to WPMac format so that they may be edited in WPMac .

Download the WPLO Converter in this WPLO Converter.ZIP archive (175 MB). Extract the WPLO Converter and place it anywhere on your disk.

Supported versions of OS X: The WPLO Converter runs only under OS X 10.6, 10.7, 10.8, 10.9, and later versions. If you need a version that runs under OS X 10.5, please send me feedback and be prepared to make a contribution to this site.

Warning: The first time you try to convert a file with the WPLO Converter, it will almost certainly fail with an error message. Ignore the message, and run the program again. It should work correctly after the first time.

You may convert one or more WP files by dropping them on the WPLO Converter, or you may double-click on the application and select a WP file. The first time you launch the application it may not succeed in starting the required background processes. If this occurs, it will display one or more error messages. Close down the software and try again. After the first time it runs correctly, it should work more smoothly in the future.

The exported files will be in the same folder with the original, with the same name as the original, but with an added .DOC, .RTF, .ODT, or .PDF extension. If a file already exists with the same name, the newly-created copy will have a number at the end of the name, before the extension. By default, the program exports in .DOC format, which is the native format of Microsoft Word 97 through 2003.

The WPLO Converter can convert password-protected WordPerfect documents if - and only if - both of the following are true: (1) you know the password and can enter it when prompted; (2) the documents were created either by WordPerfect for the Macintosh or any version of WordPerfect for DOS or Windows or Unix up to and including 5.2, but not 6.x or later.

You may customize the WPLO Converter by changing its name, as described in the following paragraphs. You may give any name to the application; the presence or absence of specific strings of letters control the way the program operates. For example, you can rename the program "BritneySpears" and it will work exactly as it normally does; but if you rename it as "Britney PDF Spears" then it will export to .PDF format instead of the default .DOC format.

Change the default output format. By default the WPLO Converter exports files in .DOC format. To export to .RTF format, add the string "RTF" to the name of the application. To export to the .ODT format used by LibreOffice and OpenOffice.org, add the string "ODT" to the name of the application. To export to .PDF format, add the string "PDF" to the name of the application.

Automatically open the converted file. If you want to edit the converted file immediately after creating it, add the string "Open" to the name of the converter. The converted file will open in the default application used by OS X to open the filetype of the converted file. For example, if you add "Open RTF" to the name of the converter, the converted .RTF file will open automatically in TextEdit.

Specify the application that opens the converted file. If you want the converted document to open automatically in a different application from the OS X default for the filetype, add "Setup" to the name of the application. You will be presented with a list of applications that OS X can use to open the output file; select the one you wish to use. Before running the WPLO Converter a second time, remove "Setup" from the name. (Each time you use the "Setup" option, you will need to select an application, or the default application will be restored.)

Display a brief help message. To display a help message, add "Help" to the name of the application.

You may also use the WPLO Converter to convert other formats into WPMac formats. To do this, follow these instructions:

To convert from other formats to WP format, change the name of the LOWP Converter so that it includes "to WP" in its name (that's "to WP" with a space between the two words, NOT "toWP" - this is important!). For example, you might call it "LOWP to WP Converter" or anything that includes "to WP".

Drop a DOC, DOCX, RTF, or other standard document file on to the renamed application (or double-click it so that it prompts you to select a file). The application will open and close a few windows, and finally create a WPMac 3.0 file (that's WPMac 3.0, not 3.5e) in the same folder as the original, with the same filename as the original but with a ".wpmac" extension added at the end of the name. That extension is arbitrary, and of course you can rename the output files to any name you like. (If the filename of the converted file is longer than 31 characters, you will need to shorten the name before you can open the file in WPMac.)

If you change the "LOWP Converter" application name so that it includes "to WP5" (or "to WP510101010101" - all that matters is the "to WP5" part) it will output files in WP51 format instead of WPMac 3.0. If you change the application name so that it includes "to WP6", it will output files in WP6.x format. If you use either of these options (for WP5 or WP6) the converted file will have the exension ".wpd" instead of ".wpmac"; ".wpd" is the standard extension for WP files under Windows.

Note: The WPLO Converter is frequently updated.


The WP Converter

This standalone conversion program uses multiple methods for converting WP files into other formats. When converting WPMac files, it uses a copy of WordPerfect for the Mac running in the SheepShaver emulator program; when converting most WPDOS or WPWin files, it uses the DOS-based ConvertPerfect utility, running in the DOSBox emulator; for a very few older WP document formats, it uses modules from the DOS-based Word for Word program, also running in DOSBox. By default, it exports files to .RTF format, but can be customized to export to .DOC or PDF formats instead.

Because files created in the WPMac 3.5e (3.5 Enhanced) format may not be opened in WordPerfect for Windows, the WP Converter can also export these files to the formats used by WPMac 3.0-3.5.4, WPDOS 5.1, or WPDOS 6.x; these files can be opened in WordPerfect for Windows.

The converter was devised by the creator of this site; if you find it useful, please feel to make a contribution to the site.

Download the WP Converter in this WP Converter.ZIP archive (32 MB). Extract the WP Converter and place it anywhere on your disk.

Supported versions of OS X: I have tested the WP Converter under OS X 10.6, 10.7, 10.8, and 10.9.

You may convert one or more WP files by dropping them on the WP Converter, or you may double-click on the application and select a WP file to convert.

The exported files will be in the same folder with the original, with the same name as the original, but with an added .RTF, .DOC, or .PDF extension. If a file already exists with the same name, the newly-created copy will have a number at the end of the name, before the extension. By default, the program exports in .RTF format. Files exported in .DOC format use an older version of that format which may not be openable in many versions of Microsoft Word, so you are advised to export to the default .RTF format instead.

You may customize the WP Converter by changing its name, as described in the following paragraphs. You may give any name to the application, the presence or absence of specific strings of letters control the way the program operates. For example, you can rename the program "JustinBieber" and it will work exactly as it normally does; but if you rename it as "Justin PDF Bieber" then it will export to .PDF format instead of the default .RTF format.

Change the default output format. By default the WP Converter exports files in .RTF format. To export to .DOC format, add the string "DOC" to the name of the converter. To export to .PDF format, add the string "PDF" to the name of the converter.

To use the Mac-based converter to convert all files, even those created by WPDOS or WPWin. The different conversion methods available in this application produce slightly different results. If you prefer to use the embedded copy of WPMac for converting files created by WPDOS or WPWin (in addition to using it for WPMac files), add the string "AllMac" to the application name.

To use the DOS-based converter to convert all files, even those created by WPMac. The different conversion methods available in this application produce slightly different results. If you prefer to use the DOS-based ConvertPerfect or Word for Word converters for WPMac files (in addition to using them for WPDOS files), add the string "NoMac" to the application name.

To convert WPMac documents to a different WP format. To convert files in WPMac format to a WP format that can be opened by WordPerfect for Windows, add any of these strings to the name of the converter: "ToWP3" (exports to WPMac 3.0-3.5.4 format), "ToWP51" (exports to WPDOS 5.1 format), or "ToWP60" (exports to WPDOS 6.x format). (Note that this option may not be used with the "NoMac" option described above.)

Display a brief help message. To display a help message, add "Help" to the name of the application.

Troubleshooting. The procedure used by this application for converting WPMac files uses an embedded copy of WPMac running the SheepShaver emulator, with WPMac and SheepShaver controlled by AppleScripts. This is a complicated system; in case of difficulties, you may need to pause the operation to manipulate the SheepShaver setup. Add the string "NoStart" to the converter name so that SheepShaver will open, but the conversion process will not begin automatically. To prevent SheepShaver from closing down after the conversion process, add the string "NoQuit". (If necessary, you may add both "NoStart" and "NoQuit".)  A bug in SheepShaver makes it impossible to edit the system's AppleScript; if you want to edit the AppleScript used by the system, add "BII" to the application name, so that the system will temporarily use the BasiliskII emulator instead of SheepShaver.


Convert WPMac file that contain Japanese, Chinese, Korean, or other non-Roman scripts

Note: This section is obsolete! The WPLO Converter can now convert WPMac files that contain Japanese and other East Asian scripts.

With the proper hardware and software, it is possible to convert WordPerfect for the Macintosh documents that contain Japanese, Chinese, Korean, or other non-Roman characters, into standard formats used by OS X and Windows applications. Some further information on the required Apple Language Kits may be found elsewhere on this site.

You will need a PowerPC Macintosh running OS X 10.4 ("Tiger") with Classic installed; the Classic system must have the appropriate Apple Language Kit installed from an OS X 9.2 installation CD. WordPerfect for the Mac 3.5 Enhanced should be installed in Classic. Earlier versions may not provide as smooth a transition.

You may also be able to paste the text directly into Word 2004 or 2008, but I have not tested this. You will not be able to paste the text directly from the clipboard into Word 2001, but you will be able to use Word 2001 to open and edit an RTF file saved from TextEdit with the complete text pasted from the WPMac file.

The method described here may work on a system running an earlier version of OS X (e.g. 10.2 or 10.3) but it will probably be less reliable, and I have not tested such systems.

It should be fairly simple to automate this process with an AppleScript, but I have not attempted it.


LibreOffice and other Mac-based word processors

The open-source word-processors listed below use various new and old version the "libwpd" import filter for WordPerfect. This import filter can open almost all WordPerfect files and save them in Microsoft Word or RTF format. Open the WordPerfect file from the word-processor's File | Open menu, or by dragging the WordPerfect file to the word processor's icon in the dock. Save the file in Word format by using the word-processor's Save As... menu, and select "Microsoft Word 97/2000/XP" (or closely similar option) or "RTF" as the format for saving.

The results of the "libwpd" conversion may not be perfect; if so, you might try saving the file from LibreOffice in a different format (perhaps Microsoft Word 95), although you will usually get best results by saving in Word 97/2000/XP format.

Open-source word-processors that use the libwpd import filter include:

Alternatively, you may want to use smaller, faster standalone scripts that use an older version of the libwpd filter for converting WordPerfect files to RTF or HTML format. These scripts may be found on Derick Fay's web page.


Other Mac-based commerical conversion software

MacLinkPlus Deluxe (a commercial program, no longer available from its vendor Dataviz, and not usable under OS X 10.7 "Lion" or later) converts files from WPMac 2.0 through 3.5e formats to all standard word-processing formats. The results are reasonably good, although features such as line numbering are not supported; conversions to other Mac formats tend to be superior to conversions to Windows formats. Password-protected files cannot be opened. Older versions of MacLinkPlus (through version 11 at least) can open WPMac 1.o files; the last version was version 16. You may be able to find a copy on eBay.


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