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How Do I Open .PUB files Without Microsoft Publisher?

Explore a variety of ways to share, view, or open .pub files


Creating a greeting card in Microsoft Publisher.

Creating a greeting card in Microsoft Publisher; All the FAQs: Career & Business | Software | Design & Layout | Graphics | Type & Fonts | Prepress & Printing

Screenshot by Jacci Howard Bear; licensed to About.com
Microsoft Publisher Templates

Microsoft Publisher

There are currently no third-party plugins (except PUB2ID as described below), viewers, or shortcuts for opening .pub files created by Microsoft Publisher. However, there are several methods you can use to create a shareable Publisher file. PDF is always a great choice but prior to Publisher 2010 there is no built-in PDF export. Be sure to share your best options - see link near end of article - for sharing or viewing Publisher files (especially when you don't have Publisher).

Covered in this FAQ:

  1. Use Microsoft Publisher to Create a File to Share
  2. Use a .PUB File If You Don't Have Microsoft Publisher


Answer: When you create a document in Microsoft Publisher or any desktop publishing program, in order for others to open and view the file they would normally have to have the same program. If they don't, there are ways you can convert your creation to a format that others can use. If you are the recipient, you'll need to get the person who created the file to save it in a format you can view.

When the content, rather than the layout, is of primary importance — and no graphics are needed — the best way to exchange information is as plain ASCII text. But when you want to include graphics and wish to preserve your layout, plain text won't do.


Previous Versions: To share Publisher 2000 (or above) files with users of Publisher 98, save the file in Pub 98 format.

Create Printable Files from Publisher Documents

Send the recipient a file that they can print to their desktop printer. They won't be able to view it onscreen but they can get a fairly accurate print out. Several methods are available although they do have their drawbacks:

PostScript: Do a "Save As" from the File menu then click PostScript in the Save as type box to create a .ps file. This is normally used for preparing files for commercial printing, however, if the recipient has a PostScript cabable printer they can print the file.

EPS: Normally used for commercial printing, an EPS file can be opened in many graphic programs. It normally has to be placed into another program (such as PageMaker or QuarkXPress) to be printed. You'll have to create a separate EPS file of each page in your publication. Choose Encapsulated PostScript (EPS) as the PostScript output format under Print Setup | Properties. Select "Print to file" then print each page, one at a time.

PRN: Select the "Print to file" box when printing your publication. Instead of printing to your printer, Publisher will create a .PRN file. The recipient can then use the DOS Copy command to send the file directly to their desktop printer (From the DOS PROMPT type copy filename.prn lpt1 — or lpt2, depending on where their printer is located). Since your printer may not match that of the recipient, it may not print exactly as you envisioned. If you're exchanging files regularly with one specific recipient, obtain a copy of the print driver for their printer and use it to create your PRN file from Publisher.

Create HTML Files (Web Pages) from Publisher Files

Convert your Publisher document to an HTML File. You can then either post the files on the Web and send recipients the address to go view the files or send the HTML files to the recipient for them to view offline in their browser. If you send the files, you'll need to include all the graphics as well and make sure you set up the file so that all HTML and graphics reside in the same directory so the recipient can place them anywhere on their hard drive. Or you could take the HTML code that Publisher creates and send an HTML-format email. The exact procedure will depend on your email client and how it is received by the recipient will depend on what email client they use (and if they accept HTML-formated email).

Create PDF Files from Publisher Documents

Convert your Publisher document to the Adobe PDF format. Since Publisher versions before Publisher 2007 have no PDF export you'll need to use another program, such as Adobe Acrobat Distiller. First create a PostScript file then use Adobe Acrobat to create the PDF file. The recipient will be able to view the document on-screen or print it. However, the recipient must have the Adobe Acrobat Reader (it's free) installed. There are also some printer drivers and software available that allow you to create PDF files from almost any Windows application.

If you're using Publisher 2007 or 2010, save your Publisher file as a PDF from the program to send it to anyone who has software (including the free Acrobat Reader) that can open or view PDF files.


When you have a file in the native Publisher format (.pub) but don't have access to Microsoft Publisher, your options are limited.

Get a Trial Version of Publisher

You'd have to get the entire Office Suite but you could get a trial version of the latest Publisher. Use it to open and view your file.

Convert Publisher Files to Other Software Formats

It may be possible to convert a .PUB file into the native format of some other desktop publishing software. Check the import options in the software of your choice to see if it accepts .PUB files (and which version of .PUB file). A plugin for converting Publisher files to InDesign, Pub2ID is a Markzware product. This GDE article — Convert Publisher Files to InDesign Using the PUB2ID plugin — illustrates how the plugin works and shows examples of what you can expect when converting files. For example, some unsupported Autoshapes won't convert properly. Not a Windows user? Also see, Publisher to Mac, via Adobe InDesign Plugin video from Markzware.

Many readers recommend an online conversion site called Zamar.com for converting .PUB files to PDF and other formats. Currently it will convert .PUB files to one of these formats:

  • doc - Microsoft Word Document
  • html - Hypertext Markup Language
  • mp3 - Compressed audio file
  • odt - OpenDocument spreadsheet
  • pcx - Paintbrush Bitmap Image
  • pdf - Portable Document Format
  • png - Portable Network Graphic
  • ps - PostScript
  • rtf - Rich Text Format
  • txt - Text Document

Another online conversion tool, Office/Word to PDF also converts .PUB files. Upload up to a 5 MB file for conversion.

Find Out How Others Share .PUB Files

Browse list of Publisher file-sharing methods posted by our readers. There are suggestions for software, file formats to use, quick & dirty methods, and online conversion services.

Get Help If none of these options work for you or you feel that your circumstances are not covered in this FAQ, post an inquiry in the Microsoft folder of the About Desktop Publishing forum requesting help.

All the FAQs: Career & Business | Software | Design & Layout | Graphics | Type & Fonts | Prepress & Printing

Readers Respond: How Do You Share Microsoft Publisher Files?

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