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Archived - AppleWorks: Document Recovery Techniques

This article explains how to recover AppleWorks (or ClarisWorks) documents that have become unusable, or "damaged."

This article has been archived and is no longer updated by Apple.
Unless specifically stated otherwise, all references to AppleWorks in this article also refer to ClarisWorks.

AppleWorks cannot recover unusable Communications documents.

If you cannot open the document

Programs are available from third-party companies that can open unusable files. One of these may successfully open and recover your AppleWorks document.

With ClarisWorks 5 or later, and with all versions of AppleWorks, you may be able to insert the unusable document into a new document, using these steps:


  1. Open AppleWorks.
  2. Open a new document of the same type as the unusable document. For example, open a new word processing document if you have an unusable word processing document. If you are recovering a database document, create a new database document whose fields are the same as those in the unusable database document.
  3. From the File menu, choose Insert. A dialog box appears.
  4. Select the unusable document.
  5. Click Insert.
  6. Save the new document with a different name.

If you can open the document

This procedure may recover any data in the document, but may lose some of its formatting (font styles and sizes, spreadsheet calculations, database layouts and field names, and so forth).

Step 1

Open the document.

Step 2

Choose Save As from the File menu. In the dialog box that appears, choose a file format that is different than the native AppleWorks file format from the File Format pop-up menu. For example, save an AppleWorks word processing document as a Rich Text Format (RTF) document.

Various versions of ClarisWorks and AppleWorks have different Save As file format options. This is particularly true between Mac OS and Windows versions of the program. Further, your computer may have additional translators installed. Therefore, you may not have the same set of choices shown in the table below. The table shows various file formats for each type of AppleWorks document, ordered from the most likely to the least likely to successfully recover your unusable document.

Word Processing(1)RTF, Text
Drawing(2)PICT, GIF, JPEG
PaintingGIF, JPEG, TIFF
Spreadsheet(2)SYLK, ASCII Text, DBF
Database(3)SYLK, ASCII Text, DBF
Word Processing(1)Rich Text Format, Text File
Drawing(2)Macintosh Picture File, BMP File, Microsoft Windows Metafile
PaintingMacintosh Picture File, BMP File, Microsoft Windows Metafile
Spreadsheet(3)SYLK Files, DBF, ASCII Text Files
Database(3)SYLK, DBF, ASCII
Table Notes:
  1. ASCII Text and Rich Text Format (RTF) are text-only file formats. ASCII omits all text attributes and saves only the text characters. RTF saves some text attributes such as the size, font, and style of the text. Neither format saves formatting such as Document, Paragraph, Section, Rulers or Tabs. Columns are omitted, for example.
  2. If the Drawing contains text, move the text to Word Processing, and recover it as a separate Word Processing document. Copy and paste to move the text.
  3. SYLK, DBF, DIF, and ASCII are types of spreadsheet files. Using SYLK format saves the calculations in a database or spreadsheet, while the other formats only save the results of the calculations.

After choosing a file format, give the document a unique name and click Save. If an alert box appears while saving, note the error message for future reference. Then try saving the document using a different file format.

Step 3

Close the document.

Step 4

Open the newly created document by choosing Open from the File menu. A dialog box appears. Choose the correct document type from the Document Type pop-up menu, and choose the correct file format from the File Format pop-up menu. Click Open.

If an alert box appears while the document is opening, note the error message for future reference. Then try this procedure again, starting at Step 1 with a different file format.

Step 5

Save the document in its native AppleWorks format.

Use the newly saved AppleWorks document and avoid the older, unusable document.

Last Modified: Feb 20, 2012
  • Last Modified: Feb 20, 2012
  • Article: TA22029
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