Files with the .DOC extension are used for text documents. The file extension is nearly as old as the personal computer itself and has been used by a variety of software programs over the years.
The first files with the .DOC extension appeared during the 1980s. These files were plain text, with no additional formatting. Plain text .DOC files can still be found on computer software discs and on the Internet. These files can be opened with any text editing program.
Microsoft Word, the most commonly used word processing program in use, saves files using the .DOC extension. The extension is also used by WordPad, OpenOffice.org and other word processing programs.
Because of small differences between word processing programs, it is usually best to open a .DOC file with the program that was used to create it. Otherwise, certain elements such as fonts or spacing may be misinterpreted.
Windows can attempt to determine the program used to create a .DOC file. To do this, right click on the file, and click "Properties." Click the "Details" tab. The "Origin" section of this window will display the program name, if it is available.
The .PDF file format is a popular alternative to the .DOC format. PDF files are popular because their formatting is retained regardless of the type of computer used to view them, and because they look the same when printed as they do on screen. However, .DOC files are easier for the average computer user to create and edit.
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