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by Ray DeCosta

Q. I have some PUB files that someone sent me and I can't open them. Is there a way to convert them to something that I can view?

A. This is an example of how not everyone has the same programs. As a result, it is a pretty common occurrence to have to change file formats. The low-tech way to solve this problem is to ask the sender to resend the files in a more common format, such as PDF (Adobe Reader), DOC/DOCX (Microsoft Word) or perhaps RTF (Rich Text Format). This approach may be time-consuming and the sender may not know how or is unable to save their files in a different format.

In this case, the PUB files you received have been created by Microsoft Publisher, a specialized document production program that is not in everyday use by most people. As a result, few people use Publisher and typically have no need to ever purchase it. Here's where the Internet will easily come to your rescue. There are numerous websites that will convert your files from one format to another for free.

My go-to site is Zamzar - they are free, do a pretty good job and it's pretty easy to send them the files you want converted. Just go to their site, upload your files, select what format you want them converted to and enter your email address. Upon conversion, the files will be emailed back to you. Check your converted files over to see if everything went well. Sometimes it doesn't and things get scrambled. At that point you would want to try other conversion sites and see if you get better results. The conversion process isn't always accident-proof so be prepared to do a little extra work.

Simply Google: "convert PUB to XYZ" (xyz should be a useful file format like DOC or RTF) and check out the many offerings available. Note that if you have very sensitive files to convert, you really shouldn't put them out on the Internet. In that case, you are best asking the sender to try again using a more popular format.

Published: Courier 6/1/14 - Page 4C