How to configure LibreOffice to default to MS Office file formats

Woman typing on a laptop in a windows office

iStockphoto/Getty Images

LibreOffice has been my office suite of choice for a very long time. I’ve always found it to work just as well as any other solution and be flexible enough to be exactly what I need.

And to be honest, I prefer the standard file formats used by the open source office suite. These file formats (e.g. ODT for text documents) follow the Open Document Format, which means they are widely accepted for many common applications.

However, that doesn’t mean that the default file formats are the best option for some users.

If you primarily work with (or need to send files to) people who use MS Office, you may have encountered cases where those users either can’t open LibreOffice files or don’t know exactly what to do with them.

Likewise: What’s new in LibreOffice and how to install it on MacOS

Luckily, since LibreOffice is very flexible, you can set the file formats to default to MS Office types DOCX, XLSX, etc.

Although MS Office can open the LibreOffice file formats, they are not nearly as widely used. And while the LibreOffice formats conform better to open standards, getting others to accept the open formats is sometimes a losing battle.

Instead of trying to win this battle, it’s often easier to make the MS defaults your LibreOffice defaults. This makes file sharing easier and more familiar to most people.

How to configure LibreOffice to default to MS Office file format

Let’s change these default formats.


The only thing you need for this is LibreOffice installed. You can install it on Linux, MacOS and Windows. That’s it.

The first thing you need to do is open LibreOffice. I would recommend opening LibreOffice Writer for this as it is very easy to access the menu structure from this application. Once open, click Tools > Options.

In the Options window, expand Load/Save and click General.

Under Default File Format and ODF Settings, you will see three different drop-down menus. First, select Text Document from the Document Type drop-down list. Then select Word 2007-365 (*.docs) from the Always save as drop-down list.

Click Apply to save the change. After saving that, select Spreadsheet and then Excel 2007-365 (*.xlsx) from the Document Type drop-down menu. Click Apply to save the change. Do the same for presentations and HTML documents, making sure to click Apply after each one. When all file types are done, click OK and you are done.

The LibreOffice options window.

Changing the default file formats in LibreOffice.

Image: Jack Wallen

Likewise: How to get Microsoft Office for free

Now when you save a LibreOffice document, the MS Office file type is used by default. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t save in the Open Document Formats. To do this, you can go to Save As and then select the open document format suitable for this file.

The LibreOffice format dropdown.

Saving a file in LibreOffice in a non-standard format.

Image: Jack Wallen

And there you have it, you’ve made using LibreOffice a little easier when you need to share those files with people who only use MS Office. While I would recommend sticking with the open document formats (simply because ODF is more compliant with open standards), there are too many cases where the MS Office file formats are the only acceptable option (e.g. if you are converting a file to a service). Now is your chance to make it happen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *