or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

Reference Question of the Week – 10/4/15

   October 10th, 2015

mr zipHere's an answer to a question that I haven't been able to use yet. It's a question I've gotten numerous times, but only just recently looked up the answer.

For whatever reason, it is not at all uncommon for patrons (or staff who is helping one of these patrons) to ask me,

Why can't I open my resume here? I need to make changes and email it to someone.

and when I look at their file, it is named something like "resume.pages" - bleh. One patron said they got it from the Career Center, so maybe that's why it always seems to be resumes saved this way.

"Pages" is (I think) the latest format for Mac word processing, which does not, naturally, open on our Windows computers with Microsoft Office. My go-to solution in these cases is to use Zamzar or some other online converter, which always works well enough (except for patrons having to wait for the email to get to their converted file).

In the back of my mind I kept meaning to search for some converter plugin that might let Word open these files directly. I finally had a chance this week to look for such a thing, and ended up finding a different solution entirely.

More than one website gave these steps:

  1. Save a copy of the .pages file to the Desktop (or somewhere easily accessible)
  2. Right-click on the .pages file and choose "Rename"
  3. Replace the ".pages" extension with ".zip"
  4. Open the newly renamed .zip file, and it will contain a file you'll be able to open with Microsoft Word or WordPad

That's a neat bit of a trickery that I'm sure will confuse many patrons, but I'm also sure they will be delighted to see their resume open on the screen at the end of it.

I haven't been able to try this trick myself yet, but now I am looking forward to the next time someone has a .pages file. Hopefully today!

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9 Responses to “Reference Question of the Week – 10/4/15”

  1. Elaine Says:

    I’ve come across .pages before as well (I teach an intro Englusg English college course, and one of students needed to email an essay). Using the trick mention to turn it into a zip file worked the best, but rather than making it openable by Word, it opened as a img file, which I could look at, and print, but not type on…¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  2. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Elaine: thank you for the tip, although I’m sorry to hear that. Not what I expected, so now I’m looking forward a little less to my next .pages patron. Still, I’m really curious to see the process.

  3. Justin Says:

    Try uploading it to Google Docs and then downloading it as a word doc.

  4. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Justin: Thanks – I hadn’t thought of that, but I bet you’re right. But that’d require logging into a Google account, so Zamzar might be a little quicker just because it doesn’t require a login. However, if the quality of the conversion – especially with page layout – is better with Google, then it probably be worth the extra step. The next time I get a .pages file, I’ll experiment.

  5. Amelia Says:

    Pages is Apple’s version of Word. It defaults to save as pages but you can save it as a .doc file. I have an Mac at home and have been doing this for years. Yes sometimes there is a slight formatting difference, but it’s not end of the world.

  6. Doug Cooper Says:

    I didn’t know zamzar was out there. I’ll keep it in mind. My go-to file converter has been pdfonline.

  7. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Amelia: I thought it probably might, which is why I had hoped Word would have some kind of .pages converter available. Unfortunately, by the time the patrons get to us, it’s too late for the save-as technique. But what I can do is find out which career center all these patrons are coming from and try to convince them to teach people how to save as .doc – thanks for the tip.

    @Doug: I haven’t tried that one, but I will – it’s definitely a good idea to have a few options. Thank you.

  8. Justin Says:

    I’m always logged into Google because I always use Chrome. Zamzar was once an option that I used but then the city IT blocked it for a time, so I stopped using it. When I did use it I didn’t like waiting for the email.

  9. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Justin: it’s rare that a patron with a question like this would already be logged into Google, but you’re right, waiting for the Zamzar email is a pain. That’s why I was happy to learn about this .pages/.zip trick, which will hopefully eliminate the need for an account and the waiting for the email. But of course, it seems like .pages patrons came in all the time before, but now that I’m waiting for one, there’s none to be found.