0MS Office LogoBatch convert old MS Office documents

I’ve been try­ing to sort out an enorm­ous (100+GB) or teach­ing resources that I’ve built-up over the years.  After the obvi­ous steps (delet­ing empty, temp and duplic­ated files) and sort­ing the big files (e.g. videos, applic­a­tion installers) I was left with a large num­ber of office doc­u­ments.  I am slowly work­ing through these, but many of them are 2003 or even older format doc­u­ments — some as old as Word 6!  Every time I open one of these files I am promp­ted with vari­ous secur­ity warn­ings.  Whist these can be turned off (see below) it is more secure to leave them on, and I wanted to con­vert all the files to office 2007 (docx, xlsx etc) formats.  Batch con­ver­sion was def­in­itely the way to go.

There are sev­er­al advant­ages to con­ver­sion bey­ond the prob­lems with secur­ity warn­ings.  Doc­u­ments saved in the new­er formats are sig­ni­fic­antly smal­ler, and as they are based on open formats, are much more com­pat­ible, e.g. with google docs and open office.  This may prove very advant­age­ous in the future.  I dis­covered that the size reduc­tion alone makes going to the trouble worth­while — first 220 word doc­u­ments i con­ver­ted were reduced from 63Mb to 25Mb.  You may think sav­ing 175k per file isn’t worth­while, but if you have 110,000 files (as I did) you will save around 18Gb — a big sav­ing if you’re using a a USB Thumbdrive, older extern­al HDD or SSD systemdrive.

Microsoft offer a util­ity called OFC to batch con­vert office doc­u­ments so this seemed the obvi­ous way to pro­ceed.  OFC is part of the Microsoft Office Migra­tion Plan­ning Man­ager.  To util­ise it fully you will also need to down­load the Office 2007 Com­pat­ib­il­ity Pack, which includes lots of file-format con­vert­ers.  Install the com­pat­ib­il­ity pack first, then run the installer for the migra­tion plan­ning man­ager.  You will be promp­ted to pick a loc­a­tion to extract to — I’d put it in your doc­u­ments or down­loads folder as it makes file edit­ing easier.

To run the con­vert­er you simply open the extrac­ted path, open the tools dir­ect­ory and run ofc.exe.  How­ever, You wont achieve much this way as OFC does­n’t have a GUI — it uses ini files.  There will be an OFC.ini file included in the tools folder as an example.  You will need to edit it — you can use note­pad or any text edit­or to do so.

There are actu­ally lots of options for con­fig­ur­ing ofc.ini, but I’m just inter­ested in con­vert­ing all the files in a par­tic­u­lar folder (and sub­folders) into new­er file formats.  To do this make the fol­low­ing edits. This will owrk with path-depths up to 9 sub­folders deep — there seems to be a bug that pre­vents it work­ing bey­ond that.




Note — If you just want to dis­able secur­ity warn­ings (e.g. in word) then please refer to the help­ful instruc­tions provided by Microsoft.

Thanks to Eric White for the ini­tial links and clues

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