A Quick Way to Fix a Corrupted Word File

by Barrett

Why does it always seem that technology will fail you at the worst moment? Here’s a trick to help you the next time disaster strikes…

Why does it always seem that technology will fail you at the worst moment? Here’s a trick to help you the next time disaster strikes…

Repeatedly saving your Microsoft Word document doesn’t always help if your PC laptap unexpectedly runs out of power. Yeah, that happened to me last week at work…

My .docx file containing the results of a productive 90-minute team script-writing session got trapped when the file became corrupted. Well, it was kind of my fault, because my laptop was only running on battery power.

But to be fair to the faulty human, there was no warning… none at all.
Now, come on!
(My Apple products always warn me when I’m dangerously low on power.)

Then, when I plugged in my laptop and rebooted, I couldn’t open up the script.
The computer ‘suggested’ the file was unrecognizable or it had been corrupted.
What do you do?
What do you do??!

We needed to get this script right over to our video editor as we had a really tight deadline. But part of the team was about to disperse to meet other commitments.

So I couldn’t just magically say, “Reassemble!”
That would take time. And time we didn’t have…

Suddenly, I was facing my own Kobayashi Maru* scenario!

Fixing the File, Stat!
The only option was to take the dead file into surgery and try to extract the data. So I brought the challenge to two tech experts in the room. I looked at them both and said, “You’ve got to come through on this. Please… work the problem!”
(I felt like Ed Harris in “Apollo 13.”)

For the first fifteen minutes, it didn’t look good.

But then, within a few moments of each other, they each came back, offering up a new file of mostly unreadable gobbly gook. But buried in their horrible ‘creations’ were the magic sentences from the script I needed.

We were saved!

Try This at Home
So of course, I was interested in the tech voodoo they used. They took different paths to the finish line, but the solution that surprised me the most was the one that used a Mac. And it was so straightforward.

The secret?

With your Apple computer, simply open the damaged Word file using TextEdit…

  • Do a ‘Control Click’ on the damaged file
  • Go to ‘Open With’
  • Then click on the ‘TextEdit.app’ option

And Voilà!

I tried it myself…
No, the results didn’t look pretty, but what I wanted was all in there.
(I just had to sift a little.)

TextEdit to the Rescue
So what did I learn from my little ‘experience?’
(Get your fortune cookie folder out.)

Yes, Murphy’s Law is alive and well.
But don’t forget it’s always darkest just before the dawn.

Never trust your PC laptop to run on battery for too long.
(Using pen and paper may not yet be such an antiquated concept.)

Always bring in the team to help you beat your Kobayashi Maru* test.

And most importantly, remembering Apple’s simple TextEdit as a repair tool can really save your day!

*This is a “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn” reference about handling the
‘no-win’ scenario.
(Apologies, if I’ve just stated the obvious. “Qapla!”)