How to open MS Publisher files (.pub) on a Mac

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by dylanlewis2000, Oct 18, 2015.

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  1. dylanlewis2000 macrumors member

    Nov 17, 2009
    Before I start I feel as if I must justify my use of Publisher as seemingly everyone who I speak to about this issue says ‘you should not use Publisher’. I am a secondary school teacher in the UK and whilst I am comfortable with using Word it seems my pupils prefer Publisher. Positioning text, images and making everything work together nicely is much better on Publisher. In my school we use PCs and some of the software we use is Windows only (Serif). A few years ago when I had a Macbook Pro I ran into a problem where I couldn’t open Publisher files. There were various websites which offered to convert the file to a PDF first but this took up lots of time and it wasn’t really feasible especially if I didn’t have internet access. I did try Parallels / Virtual box with some degree of success, however back in the days with hard disks and Core 2 Duo processors this was sometimes clunky and the transition between Mac and Windows was not as smooth primarily down to the hardware limitations. Boot camp was another option but I was left wondering if there was another better way. My Mac died and I went back to Windows however, I have rekindled my love of Macs by using iMovie on my girlfriend’s Mac. In a quest to see if this problem had been solved three years later I was surprised to see that things have moved on. Here’s what I have found

    Solution 1 – PDF

    Year the simple PDF upload. You can send a file across the internet and on some server somewhere it will convert the document for you. Wonderful! You still need an internet connection.


    Solution 2 – Libre Office

    I was amazed and astonished that this solution was free. I have used a number of office suites in the past and always found that MS office was probably one of the best for compatibility especially when handing in University assignments (Another story for another time). This Libre office does allow you to open and re-edit most files although in my testing I have found that some of the fonts are a little out. As I mainly use it for marking I can normally make out what what is going on.

    This screenshot shows the comparison between Libre and Publisher. As you an see it is not too far away but still the formatting is off slightly.

    Solution 3 – Publisher Viewer (iPad)

    A Publisher viewer on an iPad? Yes I thought I was crazy spending £7.99 on an App with limited reviews however I was pleasantly surprised to see that this software actually did open files on a mac. Pupils regularly email me coursework and if I have my iPad on my (I normally do) I can open their Publisher files up on it and reply to them – AWESOME! Again there are a few problems with fonts as the iPad does have a limited font library, however the app developer does respond to queries and questions quickly. There are a few quirks which need to be


    Solution 4 - Plain old Publisher (Virtual Machine)

    Running Virtual Box / Parallels / VMware or any host of other virtualisation softwares can prove to be taxing on the computer's performance. I am currently using a Core 2 Duo which does have a fast SSD and whilst performance is adequate it certainly isn't acceptable for day to day use. This option also comes with some pit falls, namely cost. You have to buy a licence for Office and Windows (Unless you have already bought your licence). On I5 machines this works far better and with faster SSDs I'm sure this solution is much better than it was.


    If you have any other solutions, please let me know as it is something that I have been looking for for some time. If you have found this helpful then please reply!
  2. mag01 macrumors regular

    Apr 10, 2011
    Have you tried running the MS Publisher within CrossOver, or PlayOnMac, or another Wine-based stuff? There has been some success with that in the past, at least with older MS Publisher versions. It may be at least worth a try. It will be slower than any native solution, but it should be faster than the virtual machine approach.
  3. campyguy macrumors 68040

    Mar 21, 2014
    Portland / Seattle
    I don't have a new solution, however, I can offer a tip that can help smooth out your side of Solution #2 - install a trial version of MS Office 2011 or any one of those apps; a demo of Office 2016 for the Mac won't cut it for this tip, regardless of your installed OS.

    The install of Word/Excel/PowerPoint will include the "stock" MS fonts that are generally cross-platform for Office apps - it's the MS fonts you're after, and they're "tweaked" a bit year after year. After the install of Office 2011, you can delete the Office apps and support folders - the fonts that are installed will remain. FYI, the individual Office 2016 apps have the support files embedded within each app - fonts, languages, grammar, etc. - delete the app, and the fonts go with them.

    As an alternative, you could pose using "system" fonts that are on Win and Mac machines as opposed to "Office" fonts. Keep in mind the dot-to-dot font size that causes flow issues - the whole 72 dpi-to-96 dpi thing that's been mucking things up for cross-platform files going back to Day 1.

    Also, you could try the can opener that's installed on every Mac - TextEdit. That app is also pretty good at opening most PDF files. Cheers!
  4. QuestaGirl macrumors newbie

    Feb 22, 2018
    Thank you sooo much! I have several Publisher brochures and fliers that I needed to and was at wit's end on how to do it. I downloaded one of the brochures to Zamzar and converted it to a .docx. The formatting is perfect, I didn't have to fix a thing!
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3 October 18, 2015