Can I open Microsoft Word and Excel files with Ubuntu?

  • 3
    Yes, but it also depends on what's inside. Equations will not be transformed correctly. You could have problems with macros too, but in general it should work fine.
    – enedene
    Commented Jul 7, 2011 at 10:07

10 Answers 10


Yes, LibreOffice, or previously OpenOffice.org, can read and write word documents and excel worksheets.

  • 1
    The new 4.0 has improved docx and xlsx support plus can open pub (Microsoft Publisher) files.
    – Rinzwind
    Commented Feb 21, 2013 at 8:43

Both programmes can open Microsoft .doc files automatically .

In libreoffice and open office you will need to remember to save your documents as Microsoft xp .doc.

To do this when you want to save your document click file>save as or instead press ctrl-shift-s to save as and select microsoft word 97/2000/xp on the right hand side (see my picture here)

How to save as Microsoft files

Alternatively I have set up libre office to do this automatically as all my work has to be microsoft compatible.

If you would like to set this option up. Here is how to:

In libre-writer click tools>options>load/save>general

The select always save as Microssoft 97/2000/XP

Untick the option to warn when not saving as ODF

Press ok

Like this

enter image description here

Now all your documents will be saved in this format automatically

Hope that helps


If you don't wish to use LibreOffice or OpenOffice, you can also install Microsoft Office via Wine or through PlayOnLinux.

Word, Excel and Power Point are known applications that will work and this way you can gain access to your files using these programs. There are known issues that won't allow other programs (such as Access) to work properly both in Wine or PlayOnLinux.

There are several versions of MS Office that are known to work without a hassle using PlayOnLinux and/or Wine.

Information on how to install these applications in PlayOnLinux and or Wine can be gathered on the net, examples are provided as follows:



Office 2007 Installed in Ubuntu Screenshot: enter image description here



Office 2007 Installer: enter image description here

Good luck!


I use LibreOffice on my netbook and Microsoft Office 2007 at work and have therefore some experience in transferring files back and forth.

LibreOffice reads and writes doc, xls and ppt files and even the docx, xlsx and pptx formats. Do not expect perfect compatibility however. Simple stuff without complex features transfers OK, but there are limits, especially in fonts.

For instance MS Office replaces the pretty Ubuntu font with an ugly one that it believes to be a close match. More serious problems happen with fonts in PowerPoint. Slides may turn out distorted in LibreOffice with text no longer fitting in the title bar or in the slide. Can be corrected, but not if you are in a hurry to start your presentation...


ALthough it has some compatibility with basic documents, more complex MS Office documents don't render correctly, and if changed, will not render correctly on MS Office either. This is especially true with OOXML. ALthough LibreOffice do plan to add more compatibility in the future, many in the project are reluctant to do so, because of (possible) patent issues and of the headache it will bring to support another prorietary format.

Your best bet is Office 2007 via wine. DO NOT install as root; there is simply no need. just go into winecfg and set 'riched20' to native then builtin (MSOffice comes with it's own modified version of this system file), install the corefonts package, then install Office as you would on Windows.


LibreOffice is installed by default and will do it. Alternatively you can install Microsoft Office via wine, that is supported pretty well.

  • Last time I tried installing MSOffice via Wine it completely borked my system and I had to reinstall Ubuntu. I would not suggest it.
    – Zhehao Mao
    Commented Jul 7, 2011 at 12:28
  • 1
    Me and a few other persons are working for years with office 2007. Additionally editing doc or docx files with libreoffice or openoffice, will produce weird output on other OS when viewing... Commented Jul 7, 2011 at 15:17
  • 1
    How did a wine application bork your system? i have installed MS Office in the past and nothing bad came of it - only reason i didn't install it on my current system is that Libreoffice allows me to customize the interface in a way MS Office doesn't , making it better for my needs
    – Chriskin
    Commented Jul 7, 2011 at 15:19
  • It might not have been Wine. At the time, I also tried installing KVM. That was probably what screwed things up, and I didn't notice until after I had installed Wine.
    – Zhehao Mao
    Commented Jul 7, 2011 at 16:15

Recently I discovered a major shortcoming in LibreOffice's implementation of .docx when I was working on a file that recorded changes. After I had saved my changes in LibreOffice I closed it before later coming back to it. The file was garbled and I thought that all of my hours of work had been lost. Eventually in desperation I tried the file on a Windows computer and opened it in MS Word. The file was perfectly fine. So it seems LibreOffice, which had never failed me before, can't even open all of the files it saves.

But my point is that LibreOffice is usually compatible with MS Office file types, but not completely.


The important point here is that you need to separate the office suite, such as OpenOffice or LibreOffice, from the operating system. A litthe bit like separating Microsoft Office from Microsoft Windows.

Ubuntu, as an operating system (OS), will not open any document file by itself. What will open documents will be the office suite or software that you will use. Ubuntu comes with OpenOffice or LibreOffice, which should open "Most" of MS Office documents, although not perfectly. If you use other software, you r mileage will vary, of course.

If you are considering using Ubuntu or Linux in general, and opening Office document is an important point for you, you should look at the different office suites available, rather than the actual distributions themselves. You may also see that some distributions will offer you more choice for office suites than others.

DistroWatch is perhaps a good starting point for selecting a distribution.

I realize this will not answer your question as such, but should help you better orient your search/quest for solution to your question.



Yes you can, but yu sometimes can have issues with the closed document format that uses by default.

If you us the Open Document Format that both Open/Libre Office and MIcrosoft Office besides other office suits, you will have no problems in compatbility at all


If you just want to see or read xls files (Excel), then you can use the package python-excelerator.

$ sudo apt-get install python-excelerator
$ py_xls2csv spreadsheet.xls 2>&1 | less

You can read more in the post Command line tool for viewing xls files .

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