Opening MS DOS files with a Mac

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macOS & Mac Apps

Hello,

I am currently a Windows user considering making the transition to the mac. However, I have a question before I take the plunge. I have a folder full of MS DOS files that I created years ago. They are stories, essays and letters, and have great sentimental value to me. Will I be able to open these files with my Macintosh, as I currently can with my PC? Or before I get a Mac, Will I have to open each one, and individually save each one as a word document or text file? Any help that you can offer me would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you,

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Submitted by Bryan Jones on Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Hello,

The answer will likely depend on the format of these existing files, their complexity, your expectations for how precisely the document formatting is carried over, an whether you want to be able to edit these files or to simply view them on the Mac.

Assuming these "MS DOS" files were created in a DOS word processing application, the first question that comes to my mind when attempting to determine if a particular file might open in one of the native Mac OS applications is: Can you tell us the name of the DOS application you used to create them originally (e.g. WordPerfect, Wordstar, PFS:Write, MS Word, MS Works, etc).

If you aren't sure which DOS application originally created them, can you tell us the filename extension(s) of these files (e.g. .WP5, .DOC, .WPS, etc)?

Submitted by Crysania on Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I created all of these files using word perfect. I think it was 5.1. They don't have file extensions. If they do, I cannot view them in Windows Explorer. I don't care about the formatting, and I don't need to be able to edit them. I simply want to be able to go back and read them when the notion hits me. Thank you so much for your speedy response.

Submitted by Bryan Jones on Thursday, September 11, 2014

Hello,

As far as I can tell, none of the stock apps and utilities in the current version of MacOS can recognize files that were created in WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS. My suggestion would be to use a third-party application to convert these files to a format which can natively be opened by TextEdit, which is the free and accessible word processor that comes standard on all Macs. The preferred file formats would probably be .RTF and .DOC. Here are 3 options for performing such a file conversion. I've tested options 1 & 2 by opening a few relatively complex WordPerfect 5.1 DOS (.WPD) files and saving them as .RTF and .DOC files. This created readable, though not perfectly formatted, documents that can be opened in Textedit.

1. Open the files in Word for Windows and save copies as RTF or DOC files.
2. Use the free Libre Office on the Mac to open the WordPerfect files and save them as .RTF or .DOC files. I haven't used the current version of Libre Office (4.3.1) enough to provide an educated opinion regarding it's accessibility, but I can say the process of opening the files, reviewing their contents, and saving them in a different format was fully accessible with VoiceOver on Mac OS 10.9.4.
3. Use the “WPLO Comverter” utility described at the following website. I’ve not tried this utility and cannot vouch for it, but if you are wanting to convert hundreds or thousands of WordPerfect documents without needing to open and save each one individually, this utility might be worth investigating.
http://www.columbia.edu/~em36/wpdos/wpfilesinosx.html

HTH,
Bryan

Submitted by Crysania on Friday, September 12, 2014

In reply to by Bryan Jones

I would like to convert the files before I go to Mac, so it looks like I'm going to go through the files and save them manually as dock or RTF files thanks for your help.