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Bulk Convert .doc to .rtf in Apple’s macOS or OS X Finder

At work I am archiving a large, very old collection of Microsoft Word documents. Some of the files are actually even older WordPerfect files that I converted to .doc files several years ago.

Yes, .doc is practically a standard, but I have come across several situations where these files get corrupted as they get moved from storage drive to server to other server. I find .rtf files to be much more resilient while also being an actual standard (or at least an open format that anything can read and write).

Reasons aside, I wanted a bulk script or tool for converting lots of .doc files to .rtf files. I couldn’t find what I was looking for* so I created my own solution: a macOS/OS X Services workflow that gives the Finder the power to convert any selected .doc files into .rtf files.

It looks like this in Automator:

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 7.21.44 PM

Here’s how to install this Convert .doc to .rtf workflow:

  1. In the Finder navigate to /Users/yourname/Library/Services/
    [if “Services” doesn’t exist, create a new folder and name it likewise]
  2. Download the Convert-DOC-to-RTF.zip, extract the contents onto your desktop (double-click in OSX)  and copy the file “Convert .doc to .rtf.workflow” to the previously mentioned “Services” folder.
  3. Open a Finder window with multiple files. Select all of the files. Right-click on the selected files. At the bottom of the contextual menu you will find an option titled “Convert .doc to .rtf”. (It may take a minute or two for this new option to become available on your contextual menu.)

This Looks Familiar

This solution and Services workflow is very similar to my Bulk File Rename workflow, which is now redundant because Apple finally used their previously unused features to provide a built-in bulk file rename functionality in Finder on versions of macOS/OS X 10.10 or newer.

*Though I didn’t find the complete solution to my needs, I did find the pieces of what I was looking for.

Mac Issues has a post about the OS X Terminal and the amazing commandline utility textutil that makes all of the above possible. How Apple manages to create amazing and powerful scripts and Automator features without using them to make macOS/OS X more amazing and powerful out of the box is baffling.

For Mac Eyes Only has a post about writing an Automator script to convert .docx files to .doc files. This gave me the missing “$@” variable that I needed to make my slightly different workflow actually work.