Graphic Arts’ IT Guy – April 2008

Q. Our client has recently started sending us Word files that we cannot open. They say they have the latest version of Word. Is there another way that they can save their files?

A. Your customer has recently upgraded to either Word 2007 on Windows or Word 2008 on Macintosh. Previous versions of Word and Excel stored the data that made up the file in a binary format, which made it difficult to work with outside of Microsoft’s suite. If you take a close look at the filename you may see that the file extension is “.docx”. Docx is a new format from Microsoft based on “Office Open XML” format—which makes the files more portable. This new format means that more features can be contained in a single document using specialized document objects.

If you have the new Word installed you can avoid complications when sending out files by choosing “Save As” and selecting “Word 97- 2004” format. That will ensure that the file is saved in the “older, more familiar” file format. If you need to, you can choose “Preferences” from the “Word 2008” menu on your Mac and choose “Word 97 – 2004” format from the Word tab. On a PC, click the “Office Button”, go to “Word Options” and choose “Word 98-2003” format.

Microsoft has also made file converters available for converting “.docx” files on a Mac or PC without the new Office Suite. On a PC you can install the “Office Compatibility Pack” ( For Macintosh you can download the Open XML converter at

Q. We have many files in QuarkXpress and our client has asked us to send them InDesign files. We tried to open the QuarkXpress files in InDesign but we get an error about a missing plug-in. How can we convert the files to InDesign format?

A. InDesign was able to open QuarkXpress files in the past, however InDesign can no longer open files created by QuarkXpress version 6, 7 or the soon to be released QuarkXpress version 8. Well, not without help. You can “Export Layout as Project” and choose version 6. Then open the file in version 6 and “Save As” version 5. Afterwards open the file in QuarkXpress version 5 and save it again to get rid of any stray version 6 code. Down-saving a file this way means that your file will lose all of the newer effects in your files.

For around $200 per license you can use Markzware’s Q2ID v3 plug-in for InDesign to open any “Collected” QuarkXpress file. It works with 90 percent of the items in the file and preserves image links and font information. Q2ID v3 includes the plug-in for InDesign CS2 and CS3.

Q. I have two versions of the same program installed and I need to use the older version to open the files. I’ve tried to set the default in the Finder but it always seems to open the newer version.

A. While you can select a file in the Finder and choose “Get Info”, then set the default application to open a file, your Mac may open the wrong applications that you have double-clicked. In the pre-Mac OS X days, your Macintosh would open the legacy file based on the “Creator” code in the Resource fork, which was used to store file resources such as a finder icon or image preview. Mac OS X has done away with the Resource Fork for compatibility reasons.

Without the application’s “creator” code, your Mac may have no idea what program should open the file. Like Windows and Unix systems, the Finder now uses the “dot file extension” in the file name to determine the file:application relationship. The Finder stores this information in it’s “” file. If you cannot set the default application, this “plist” may be corrupt. To fix it, Trash the file and the Finder will create a new one with the default relationships. However some applications such as those from Adobe, Microsoft and Quark will always tend to open with the highest installed version. So dragging and dropping on the dock icon or choosing “Open With” from the contextual menu may be the only way to control your computer’s behavior.