Converting Appleworks (.cwk) to MS Word (.docx)

for use in Pages or Microsoft Word.

My dad recently upgraded to Mac OS X Mavericks, and then could not read Appleworks (.cwk) files in Pages. (These are also called "Clarisworks" files.)

That seems like a terrible blunder by Apple to drop support for reading files generated by their own program. But there are a couple of workarounds. One is to get an older version of Pages that still reads those files, but you're living on borrowed time there.

Another is to use the free software "Libre Office", which can read AppleWorks files and save them in other formats, such as Microsoft Word ".docx" format, which can be opened by Pages and also by MS Word. Conveneniently, Libre Office even lets you call it from the command line to convert individual files.

So, being a Computer Scientist, I wrote a script to find all of the .cwk files in a directory (and its subdirectories), back them up to a backup directory ("cwkBackup"), and convert them all to MS Word ".docx" files. For this to work, you need to do this:

  1. Download and install the free LibreOffice software (
  2. Download the script, and put it in your home directory.
  3. Open the Terminal application from Applications/Utilities/Terminal.
  4. To see what Appleworks (.cwk) files you have, type "sh -list ." (including the period, meaning "this directory"). Most likely, you only have .cwk files that you want to convert inside your "Documents" folder. But this will let you see if there are any hidden somewhere else that you want to convert, too.
  5. For each directory that contains Appleworks files that you want to convert, do this:
For example, you will most likely run This will convert all of the .cwk files to .docx files, and back the .cwk files up to the directory "cwkBackups". If for some reason you think this was all a bad idea and want to restore the .cwk files back where they were, you can do "sh -restore" and it will move those files back to where they originally were.

This saved my Dad's bacon, and hopefully will help others as well.

Randy Wilson (