What is the best option on the Mac for reading textbooks in .docx format?

macOS & Mac Apps

My college recently started scanning books and sending me electronic copies, usually in .docx format. At first, it seemed like they would open and work in pages, but pages will not read certain things, or loses focus on the page that I'm reading. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to access these books on my Mac? is there a different app I should use, or a different file format? What would be the best way to read them?
Thank you for any suggestions you may have.



Submitted by Usman on Friday, January 23, 2015

I don't like pages as a method of reading books as I don't like how the page boundaries are set up. Personally, I use and recommend an app called iText express which works well and will open .docx files.

Submitted by Brie96 on Sunday, January 25, 2015

Thank you so much for your help.
I downloaded the app and it is reading much better than pages. do you possibly have any suggestions for navigating the books more efficiently?

Submitted by Usman on Monday, January 26, 2015

Unfortunately, this is an area which is not very developed on the mac. I usually just interact with the text and use the rotar to navigate, by line, sentence, paragraph, so on. I wish there was a way to navigate by heading even if a document is formatted in such a way.

Submitted by Tree on Monday, January 26, 2015

There are a few things you can try; I usually do most of my reading in pages so some of these might not work as well in i text express.

One thing you might try is to use your text editor's search feature; for both pages and I text express you can search for things by hitting command f and then typing in your desired text and hitting enter. You might also try this with V O's native search function, which you can access with the keystroke V O f, and then v o g to go to the next instance of the search. Normally the text editor's search function will work better.

Now the most important thing with searching is how to use it effectively. You can search for a specific phrase if you want, but that is not always useful since you probably don't know what your looking for; The ways that I find searching most useful when dealing with books, is by trying to skip through chapters.

Every book is different and there may be several ways of doing this, but what I normally try and do is see if each chapter begins with something specific. for example maybe each chapter says the word chapter, chapter 1 chapter two, etc. if this is the case it should be pretty easy to skip around by chapter with the search feature. Another thing you might try is to find the books table of contents, see what the name of the chapter is that your looking for, and search for that.

If your book has page numbers that might also be a good thing to search for, since in most college classes you won't be reading the whole book, just specific pages that the prof assigns.

Another method that uses the search feature is that you can make your own book marks. for example maybe you want to mark a specific area of a book that is important, or maybe you just want to mark where you stopped reading. What I normally do is to come up with some unique word or phrase that you can type in the doc and later search for; the main thing when doing this is that you need to pick something that the book will not have in it. For example I might type Treeimportentbookmark for sections I want to come back to. that is tree's important bookmarks, just as one word. If I want to mark where I last read I might put tree's endpoint. You can put anything you want but the key is just keep it consistent; you don't want to type out book marks and then forget what you typed. You might try copying down the different book marks you use at the very top of the document, that way you don't forget them, because the search might not work if you don't type the exact text.

One other option to consider is converting your doc files into html files. The only way that I know of to do this is to use an OCR program, and if you don't already have such a program I would not recommend buying one for this use alone. Since I don't use the office of disabilities services I have to have an OCR program, and I would recommend something like fine reader pro for most college students; even if you get the department of disabilities to do your books for you, its very common to run into things like pdf images of books that prof's have scanned in and posted online for readings.

If you do have fine reader pro, or some comparable alternative, scanning it into an html document might actually create headings that voice over can use for navigation; plus things like tables will be accessible.

My final word is that if you don't like reading your doc files look around, there are many ways to get text books. As I have said I don't use the disability office and I have no trouble finding books on kindle, book share, learning ally, bard, course smart, and other random places online. Just search for the name of the book and full text. I have only had to buy a hard copy of a book twice and scan it in the old fashion way, and I am a senior, slogging through my final semester. Good luck.

Submitted by Deborah Armstrong on Tuesday, June 2, 2015

It is your right to have a textbook in the format that is most accessible to you. I prepare alternate media for college students, and when they have iDevices, I give them either epub or PDF. PDF is better for people who want to primarily see the book, even if they need to zoom it. Epub is better for listening in iBooks.

So tell your college they need to give you epub or PDF, and there are plenty of free tools for creating these. If they use Kurzweil, it creates nice epub files that work great in iBooks -- both K1000 and K3000 can do this. OmniPage makes zoomable PDF files that also will read with voiceOver.

It is your right to have a more accessible format, so your college should be acquiring the tools for producing these friendlier formats.

Submitted by Daniel Angus M… on Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Club AppleVis Member

as microsoft word 2011 isn't accessible, their is another way you can use it, or should in say, another version. if you have office 365, you can download a free copy of office 2016 preview for mac. if you don't you can download a tryal. it works great with VoiuceOver, with updates all the time.