I am using a couple of documentation files in LibreOffice (.odt) format. Normally, I access them with LibreOffice Writer of course. But there are times when I can only connect to the site with a text terminal.

I am wondering if there is a terminal-based tool that can show me the contents of these files in approximate correct format? (The files mainly contain simple text, bullet lists, and a few 1x1 tables, so it's relatively simple stuff in terms of formatting.)

P.S. This question is not about starting LibreOffice itself from the command line (which is anwered here).

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    Possible duplicate of how to view a doc from command line? – pLumo Nov 13 '17 at 8:41
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    Not in the original answer, but you can use odt2txt document.odt | less to directly view the file. – pLumo Nov 13 '17 at 8:47
  • @RoVo That suits for an answer! It would be interesting whether odt2txt does a job as good as libreoffice --convert-to (which I'd expect to work very well without having tried it extensively). The latter (as far as I found out) is not able to write to stdout so that piping directly unfortunately isn't available for it. Caveat: If you just quickly want to view (or search!) the content of your document and maybe don't care too much about formatting, odt2txt | … is the way to go. Else let libreoffice convert your document as explained below. – dessert Nov 13 '17 at 12:25
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    Simple documents seem to be converted well with both tools. Unfortunately tables are not converted to ascii tables ... – pLumo Nov 13 '17 at 12:34

There is a tool called odt2txt that can convert odt to txt.

Compared to libreoffice I can see two benefits:

  • Lightweight if you don't have libreoffice installed (e.g. on a server)
  • It can print to stdout for direct viewing of files.


sudo apt install odt2txt

Then you can directly view an odt:

odt2txt document.odt | less
  • If you want to convert to a file just redirect the output with odt2txt document.odt > file or use the --output=file option. – dessert Nov 13 '17 at 16:18

libreoffice provides a --convert-to option which can be used to convert a document to e.g. text or html:

  • convert input.odt to input.txt:
    libreoffice --convert-to "txt:Text (encoded):UTF8" input.odt

  • convert every .odt in the current directory to .html:
    libreoffice --convert-to "html:XHTML Writer File:UTF8" *.odt

  • convert every .ods in the current directory to .csv:
    libreoffice --convert-to csv *.ods

The output can be opened with the pager or terminal browser of your liking: less, most or w3m to list just three.

  • Nice! Can you use this to display the txt version directly in terminal instead of writing to a file? – Puck Nov 13 '17 at 16:36
  • Unfortunately not, see my comment above. – dessert Nov 13 '17 at 16:43

LibreOffice has a --cat option which exists in version 5.1 but not 4.2. Not sure exactly when it was introduced.

libreoffice --cat "Untitled 1.odt" --headless | less

For more information:

libreoffice --help
  • It's a shame this useful option is neither documented in libreoffice's manpage nor on help.libreoffice.org/Common/…, however at least libreoffice -h lists it. – dessert Nov 13 '17 at 21:59

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