I have an old Macintosh Classic running Mac OS 7.0.3. It has Word 5 installed on it and contains a some .doc files created within it. The documents are in Czech language and contain letters like ěšč and so forth.

I would like to copy them to a diskette and open them up, either on a Windows PC or a modern Mac, however, saving them and moving them over to the computer allows me to open them in Word, but the non-English characters are all corrupt. Is there any way to open the documents so that they display as they should?

I have tried saving the files as various versions of Doc, WordPerfect and so on (pretty much anything Word 5 offers), but all behaved the same way.

Note: The documents seem to open fine in Office 95 on Windows 98.

  • Will it suffice to have them as PDF? If so, try exporting to that. That may preserve the non-Unicode fonts they are probably using. But if you need to edit them PDF would not be very useful. – Tom Gewecke Oct 7 '18 at 15:03
  • Have you tried resaving in Office95 as Office95 files and then importing those files? – mmmmmm Oct 7 '18 at 18:26
  • @TomGewecke PDF was released in 1993 - do any of the apps support it? – mmmmmm Oct 7 '18 at 18:28
  • 1
    Isn't there a an option to change default language? You can try that. If the isn't you can try opening the file in LibreOffice. This free office sweet has an option to change default language of documents. It also opens many different document types incuding .docs... Is located here: libreoffice.org – jmh Oct 7 '18 at 18:36
  • I wonder what is actually going wrong with the special characters in modern MS Office. Was it using some precursor to unicode? – Wowfunhappy Oct 8 '18 at 19:31

The perils of proprietary and binary file formats.
You should try to transfer and convert all files you care for now.
Preferably into an open, plaintext based format.

There are a few other options, like converting the to be printed page to PostScript or PDF, but the below seems to fit your scenario best?

Microsoft Word Summary: How to transfer Microsoft Word files between Mac and PC. Macros to speed up things:


Generally, you get the same results importing on the target computer and exporting on the source computer when you exchange text files between Word for the Macintosh and Word for Windows. It is not quite true when your file contains graphics. We found that the conversion modules of Word for the Macintosh do a better work converting to and from the Word for Windows files than the modules of Word for Windows.

Word for the Macintosh

From version 6, Word files are identical (binary compatible) on the PC and on the Macintosh. There should be no more conversion problems. However, you should note that the migration to Word 6 doesn't proceed so fast on the Macintosh because the perceived advantages of this move are not blatant. Word 6 is pretty slow, even on a Power Mac. If you have to give a Word file to a Macintosh user, you better give her/him a Word 5 file. If you know that the file will be mounted in a DTP package, you should definitively give a Word 4/5 file. Adobe and Quark had a hard work to produce usable import filters for Word 6.

Word 5 for the Macintosh opens all PC Word formats up to Word Windows 2. Word 4 for the Macintosh only imports the Word DOS files. All versions of Word for the Macintosh can export to Word DOS (3/4/5).

Identification codes of Word for the Macintosh versions 1, 3, 4 et 5:
FE 32 for Word 1
FE 34 for Word 3
FE 37 for Word 4 et 5.
Word 3 is not supported any more in Word for Windows 6 and higher. You therefore have to open the files in a more recent version of Word for the Macintosh and resave in Word 5 or 6.

If you get incorrect accented characters opening some Word DOS files in Word Mac 5 (it never happened with Word Mac 4), you should know that Word Mac 5 insists on getting a correct code page at the end of the file header. Word 5/5.5 on the PC put this code at the right place, but it is not the case of Word DOS 3/4 and of some conversion packages (main culprit: Wordperfect). You will have to open the files with a binary editor and put B5 and 01 (437 in little-endian) at offsets 7E and 7F of the Word file.

Word on the PC

Word for Windows 2 can import Word Mac 4/5. As a matter of fact, it is even the best revision level to exchange data between platforms and you should get back to it if you encounter problems (mostly with version 6). Word for Windows (versions 2/6/7) can't import files created in Word 3 for the Macintosh. It is hard to ascertain the origin of those files because the signature is the same for Word 3, 4 and 5 ('MSWDWDBN'). If you use an hex editor, look at the second byte of the file. If you have 34h, it is a Word 3, if 37h, Word 4/5.

Word for Windows 6 uses the same binary format as Word 6 for the Macintosh. When you get errors opening Macintosh Word 5/6 files in WinWord 6 (accented characters, corrections which don't make it to the disk) with the saved and reopened file, you will have to proceed that way: reopen the original Macintosh file, select the whole file, go in the 'Tools' menu and check the language you want. Go in the 'File' menu and check the paper format in the 'Layout' item. We observed that WinWord 6 often messed with these two parameters.

Word 3/4/5/5.5 for DOS can't handle Macintosh Word files. But Word for the Macintosh can save as Word DOS files.

Conversion Macrocommands

You will find below three Word macros to automatically save in Word Mac 5 from WinWord 2, 6 and 97. The two macros for Word 2/6 are still in French, but you should not have big problems to rewrite them in English. The main difficulty is not to save in a specific format, but to get the filename in a variable of the macro. We found the trick of the dialogbox 'Statistics'. Maybe there are others. If you do the work of porting this macro in English, please send it to us. It will surely help some users. It should not be difficult. Just register a macro while getting the character count and saving the file under another format.

Macro to save in Word Mac 4/5 from Word Windows 97

Sub SaveMac5()
' SaveMac5 Macro
' (c) 1999 Pierre Duhem
Dim nomfich, nomfich2 As String
Dim lg As Integer
nomfich = ActiveDocument.Name
lg = Len(nomfich)
nomfich2 = Left(nomfich, lg - 3) + "mcw"
ActiveDocument.SaveAs FileName:=nomfich2, FileFormat:=108, _
    LockComments:=False, Password:="", AddToRecentFiles:=True, WritePassword _
    :="", ReadOnlyRecommended:=False, EmbedTrueTypeFonts:=False, _
    SaveNativePictureFormat:=False, SaveFormsData:=False, SaveAsAOCELetter:= _
End Sub

Macro to save in Word Mac 4/5 from Word Windows 6

'Macro saving the current file in Word Mac 5, extension "mcw"
'Version for Word Windows 6
Dim nom$
Dim dlg1 As StatistiquesDocument
Dim dlg2 As FichierEnregistrerSous
FichierRésumé .MiseAJour
GetCurValues dlg1
nom$ = dlg1.NomFichier
pos = InStr(nom$, ".")
nom$ = Left$(nom$, pos) + "mcw"
FichierEnregistrerSous .Nom = nom$, .Format = RechercheConvertisseur ("MSWordMac")
FichierFermer (2)
End Sub

Macro to save in Word Mac 4/5 from Word Windows 2

'Macro saving the current file in Word Mac 5, extension "mcw"
'Version for Word Windows 2
Dim nom$
Dim dlg1 As StatistiquesDocument
'To get statistics, character count, etc.
Dim dlg2 As FichierEnregistrerSous
'to save as...
GetCurValues dlg1
nom$ = dlg1.NomFich
pos = InStr(nom$, ".")
nom$ = Left$(nom$, pos) + "mcw"
FichierEnregistrerSous .Nom = nom$, .Format = 109, .VerrouillerSaufAnnotations = 0, .MotDePasse = "" 

End Sub

Other options to consider might be:

Trying LibreOffice and hope it does a decent job at conversion.

Running (the now abandoned and not legally availabe and not working on Mac Os X Lion 10.7 or higher) MacLinkPlus program. It was installed on many Macs of that era and might be still in your possession. It can be run on old hardware or in emulation layers, depending on the version you have.

Another cool option mihght be running the most perfect program ever: WordPerfect. Version 3.5e was eventually offered for free download. A very convenient way to get this running under macOS Mojafe 10.14 is detailed here: WordPerfect for the Mac under OS X/macOS:

Basically you need:

SheepShaver, The "classic" Mac OS 7.5.5, Corel WordPerfect 3.5e, Mac OS ROM, Adobe Type Manager LE and Adobe Acrobat Reader

WordPerfect may read your Word files just fine. Since it is very conveniently bundled into a complete package on that site, it may well be worth a download and take a peek at what else comes on the DMG…

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