Microsoft Office is nearly ubiquitous in business and education. While similar apps like Google Docs and Apple Pages have given Microsoft a run for their money, it's safe to say that Word continues to lead the pack in terms of functionality and usability.
The downside, of course, is that some Word documents are difficult to access depending on your operating system. If you try to open a ".doc" file on your Android device, you may experience problems running it immediately. Don't worry, opening doc files is a relatively simple process. Here's how.
How to Open a Word.doc File on Android
The Google Play Store is one of the most diverse app stores available to tech users today. That means there's no shortage of apps designed to help you open Word documents on your Android device.
Most of these apps are free, some come pre-installed, and all of the ones on our list have been tested for use as of May 2022, so you know it's a good app.
Use Google Docs
Google has added native support for '.doc' and '.docx' files in Android, so opening a new file shouldn't be too much work. Here's how.
- Use Google Drive, your email, or another service to find the Word document.
- Tap the file you located in step 1 above to open it. If prompted, open the file in "Docs" (Google Docs) or another doc/docx file reader/editor if you have one. You may need to install one if nothing comes up to select or reset the default app launcher if you don't get any option like the image below.
The document should open in the application you choose. If you're just trying to review the content, you can open it in Docs. If you want to make changes, you need to open it in another app, such as Docs To Go.
Use Microsoft Word for Android
Google Docs can take care of opening and viewing your files on Android, but if you prefer to edit them natively, you can use Microsoft Word for Android.
- Grab the Microsoft Word app from the Play Store.
- Once the app has completed the installation process, tap the '.doc' or '.docx' file on your phone, then select "Mot" from the list of available applications.
Word makes it easy to save and edit documents on Android, so edit your documents to your liking. However, it's definitely best to use the Word for PC or Mac program whenever possible.
You can also use the entire Microsoft Office suite on your Android device, as long as the apps are installed. Although it's not easy to edit files, especially an Excel document, Android and Microsoft seem to work well together.
Word for Android is a free app with no ads and you don't need an account to get to work. Unfortunately, if you don't have an account, you can't open anything from the cloud, so it's best to log in if you need to access files from your PC on your phone.
Polaris Office for Android
Polaris Office comes pre-installed on various Android devices, but if it's not already there, just download it from the Google Play Store. Developed by Infraware Inc., Polaris is a free app and you can bypass the option to create an account if you wish.
When opening the app, you'll need to click on the three horizontal lines in the top left corner and tap on "Device Storage" to access the files on your Android phone or tablet. If nothing appears, go to your device's settings and enable permissions under the "Apps" tab.
Now you can edit and download the file directly to your device and send it where it needs to go.
Note: You may notice that this app contains advertisements which may interfere with your document. Especially the banner at the top as shown in our screenshot above. There are several ways to bypass these ads.
The app offers videos that you can watch to remove ads so you don't have to pay for a premium service. A 60 second video will remove ads.
You can also tap the "Edit" icon which removes the banner ad at the top. You can also enable airplane mode and then open your document. If you're already viewing the document, go back and turn on airplane mode. When you open the document, the ads disappear.
Another free app that you can easily download from the Google Play Store, WPS Office offers everything from file conversion to reviewing Microsoft Office documents. Similar to Polaris Office, you don't need to create an account to use its features.
This app offers a premium paid service that removes ads and gives you even more features. As of this writing, the service is 40% off at $19,99 per year and $29,99 annually thereafter.
All you have to do to get started is tap "Open" at the top of the app. From there, you can tap on any number of file categories (we'll tap on Doc for the purposes of this article) and choose the file from your device's storage.
Once opened, click on the “Tools” option at the bottom to make changes. WPS Office offers its own cloud service if you want to store your work in the app. Of course, you can also share the document with other people or even directly on a computer (but you'll need an account for that last bit).
Unable to open Word document
If you're having trouble opening a Word.doc file, the first thing to do is try another application. If it's an urgent matter, Google Docs or Word Doc may not cooperate at first.
Using another application should fix the problem as long as the file you are trying to open is not corrupted. If you tried to use another application, the file is probably defective, so try to get another version.
If you absolutely need to access a file from the Word application, you may have a compatibility issue. Either your phone software is outdated or your app is outdated. Check for updates on the Google Play Store first. If an update is available, go ahead and click on the option to do so. When done, try opening your file again.
Assuming you're running the latest version of Word, try updating your phone by going to settings and tapping "Updates."
If all your software is up to date, you can try clearing the cache (Settings>Applications>Word>Clear Cache), or uninstall then reinstall the application. Some users have reported that there is only the option to uninstall Word from their device settings. If this is what you see, go to the Play Store and see if the uninstall option is available. When the option doesn't appear to uninstall the app, you can only disable it and then re-enable it.
Finally, try logging into the Word application with your Microsoft account if you are not already logged in. This may fix your problem (especially if you're downloading a document from the cloud).
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some additional answers to the questions we are most often asked about Docx and Android files.
Can I edit a Word document on my phone?
Yes. Google Docs and the third-party apps we mentioned above should let you edit your document without a hitch. If it is a read-only file, you will need to click on "Attributes" and uncheck the "Read-only" box.
From there, you can make changes, take notes, and perform various other tasks. Once edited, feel free to share the file, save it to your cloud, or send it to someone else.
What is the best third-party application to use with Word documents?
The answer to this question largely depends on what you are trying to do with the document. Word is more compatible because it is Microsoft's software. Google Docs gives you a lot of freedom and it's much easier to share your document with others. The other third-party apps listed also offer some key features.
Can I save documents to my OneDrive account on Android?
Absoutely! You have the option to add your Microsoft account to the Microsoft Word app on Android. When you open a file, you can select the three dots in the upper right corner, then select "Save As" and choose the location of your file.
If you're creating a brand new document, just select your OneDrive account from the drop-down menu at the top of the creation page.