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convert-to command line parameter

asked 2012-05-15 16:14:28 +0200

anonymous user


updated 2013-09-13 20:02:02 +0200

carnendil gravatar image

Hello, I'm trying to convert a Microsoft Word document to text using the convert-to command-line parameter using LibreOffice 3.4.5, OOO340m1 (Build:1505), on OpenSuse 12.1. I tried these two commands.

soffice --convert-to txt filename.doc

Nothing happened.

soffice --headless --convert-to txt filename.doc

Produced a PDF file.

Why do I need --headless? If this is mandatory, the documentation should state this. Can LibreOffice convert Word Perfect documents?

The format for "convert-to" parameter is:

--convert-to output_file_extension[:output_filter_name] [--outdir output_dir]

What are the valid output_file_extension values? What are the valid output_filter_name values?

For the documentation, the soffice --help showed the --convert-to parameter. The help->LibreOffice Help does not show this parameter.

Thank you

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answered 2012-09-25 02:43:18 +0200

jopenid gravatar image

updated 2012-09-25 09:37:03 +0200

Here are a few more pointers for anybody else struggling with this.

This is the general format of convert-to (noting that on windows the parameter is -convert-to not --convert-to):

soffice --headless --convert-to <TargetFileExtension>:<NameOfFilter>

Use the link above ( to look for the filter names in the .xcu files.

For example, I wanted to convert to Excel 95 format so I found the MS_Excel_95.xcu filter and inside it has a name:

<node oor:name="MS Excel 95" oor:op="replace">

I could then try it out:

soffice --headless --convert-to xls:"MS Excel 95" filename.xlsx

(I needed this to get a non-xml version of an excel file)

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for me --headless worked only when given after --convert-to.

soffice --convert-to pdf filename.doc  --headless

works while

soffice  --headless --convert-to pdf filename.doc

does not.

the_code gravatar imagethe_code ( 2015-01-12 08:08:33 +0200 )edit

Running on CentOS 6.5 with LibreOffice 4.0.4 and logging in only via ssh onto a server with no display whatsoever (ie, serial console), I get an error X11 error: Can't open display: which is what I would expect --headless to prevent. I needed to prefix the command with /usr/bin/xvfb-run. It doesn't matter where in the command string I put --headless.

GreyGnome gravatar imageGreyGnome ( 2015-05-26 18:12:13 +0200 )edit

answered 2012-12-13 21:19:12 +0200

cben gravatar image

updated 2012-12-13 21:49:36 +0200

--headless is not strictly mandatory, but you want it.
Without it, the document is still converted (note "convert /.../filename.doc -> /.../filename.txt using text" message on stdout) but an empty GUI is also started (and the command blocks until you close the GUI).

More importantly, headless conversion silently does nothing if any LO is already open; see for a solution.

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Thanks, that is a useful caveat about headless conversion only working when no other LOis open, by default. Sure explains why I had trouble before; now I am using the -env trick.

bosyber gravatar imagebosyber ( 2013-07-24 20:31:28 +0200 )edit

answered 2012-05-15 16:30:15 +0200

vmiklos gravatar image

Probably --convert-to should imply --headless, but if you want this, please open a bugreport.

Regarding the filters available, you can poke around at (sure, a more user-friendly wiki page would be better), for example if you want to convert to odt, try '--convert-to odt:writer8'.

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answered 2013-09-13 14:25:18 +0200

rafik gravatar image

updated 2013-09-13 15:01:32 +0200

On win7, using LO 4.1 I had to do the following (from command line, you probably need to change %f to %%f if running in a cmd script):

set path=%path%;C:\Program Files (x86)\LibreOffice 4\program
for %f in (*.odg) do (
    soffice.exe --headless --convert-to pdf --outdir "C:\tmp" %f


  • it will NOT work if any instance of LO is open!
  • outdir IS required
  • wildcards for input files are NOT supported (hence the for loop)
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Thank you very much.

Just a few notes for WIN7 x64 LO build ID 7e4286b58adc75a14f6d83f53a03b6c11fa2903

  • outdir IS NOT reqired (strange?)
  • NOT AT ALL instances of LO are opend, even LO Quick Start

Bear in mind to disable loading LO quick start on operating system startup. Otherwise it will be loaded on first convert and nothing will be coverted after it.

mike_a gravatar imagemike_a ( 2013-09-16 14:03:26 +0200 )edit

Couple of noob questions incoming. 1. that is two separate commands? 2. the first command, that looks like it is telling windows where to look for soffice.exe, or is it also looking for the files you want to convert? 3. Do I need to have command prompt open to the directory the files are in for this to work, I am guessing so. 4. If this is all entered in at the same time, do I need to separate the commands in any way?

Kardrik gravatar imageKardrik ( 2014-07-23 20:58:27 +0200 )edit

FWIW: 1. Yes. 2. IMO, setting the path concerns executable files only (but I am not an guru for MS-DOS/Windows shell) 3. Yes (as an implication of 2.) 4. Very probably yes but I can't tell you how - MS-DOS shell manual should say more. But executing at first the set command and afterwards the for command solves the situation in any case (the path you set is definitely valid at least until the command prompt session terminates). Or you can create a .bat file and separate commands by newline.

RobertN gravatar imageRobertN ( 2015-05-20 19:48:08 +0200 )edit

P.S. In a .bat file (script) you need to change %f to %%f.

RobertN gravatar imageRobertN ( 2015-05-20 19:58:30 +0200 )edit

answered 2015-05-08 12:06:58 +0200

shee-eet gravatar image

@w_whalley's answser was close, but didn't work for my version: LibreOffice

This worked:

soffice --headless --convert-to txt:"Text" file_to_convert.odt

(I happened to do it with an odt. haven't tried .doc yet).

(thanks to: @quibit here: )

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answered 2012-05-16 01:48:00 +0200

w_whalley gravatar image

This syntax worked for LO 3.4.6

soffice --headless --convert-to txt:text file_to_convert.doc

But only if no other instances of LO are open.

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answered 2014-11-18 21:36:21 +0200

PrgWiz gravatar image

For windows machines, I have found that on some files the conversion needs a start /wait. Example

start /wait soffice --headless --convert-to txt file_to_convert.doc

It seems the shell collapses before soffice can complete the conversion is some cases.

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Thank you for this - on Windows 7 I was getting unhelpful crash dialogs until I added the "start /wait" to the command. As a note the first quoted parameter for 'start' is the window name, so if you try to call the above from a script with a space in the path you may need to do it like: start /wait "" "C:\program files\libreoffice 4\program\soffice"

NickP gravatar imageNickP ( 2014-12-10 01:03:35 +0200 )edit

One more addendum: It is possible to read - for example here: , is silent about that - that “When executing an application that is a 32-bit GUI application, CMD.EXE does not wait for the application to terminate before returning to the command prompt. This new behavior does NOT occur if executing within a command script.”; so it should imply that when executing soffice.exe from a batch script,

RobertN gravatar imageRobertN ( 2015-05-20 19:24:34 +0200 )edit

[continued] it is not necessary to call it via start /wait command. Unfortunately, it is NOT true. At least on Windows Vista (I know, horrible OS - but it was not on my computer) it is necessary to use start /wait even in a batch, otherwise the conversion collapses. Update: Primary source for the incorrect information about the start command (Microsoft's site). LO version: 4.3.6.

RobertN gravatar imageRobertN ( 2015-05-20 19:27:27 +0200 )edit
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Asked: 2012-05-15 16:14:28 +0200

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Last updated: May 08