Thursday, January 30, 2014

Keeping versions when upgrading documents from doc to docx in SharePoint

Today I got a support questions about why all the versions had been restarted on some documents in a library. It’s a QMS system, and keeping the version history is quite important for tracking.

The reason was that all the .doc files had been resaved as .docx, and then the old .doc files had been archived. This of course also messed up the unique document id’s by the document id provider, as new files had been saved, getting new id’s

If you edit properties on a document in SharePoint, you notice there is no way change the file extension.


However, if you open the library in Windows Explorer (via the ribbon), you can easily rename files from .doc to .docx.

The procedure to keep the history and document id would be:

  1. Open the .doc file in Word
  2. Save as .docx locally on your machine
  3. Rename the .doc file in Explorer to .docx (the folder you opened from SharePoint)
  4. Copy the locally saved .docx over to the Explorer folder


  1. This will not work. You cannot just change extension from doc to docx becuase Word will not open the document. Instead it will return an error saying the extension does not match the format.

  2. Mikael is right - the current version will be OK, and the Version History will be preserved, BUT it will be impossible to open the prior versions.

  3. Also I have noticed that after the change of file extension, you can no longer modify metadata of that document. You can modify OOTB metadata, such as Title, but any changes you try to make to custom metadata fields are not saved.