One of the great things about OpenOffice.org is that you can open corrupted Word files with it. Or Word files that are just too big to open in Word, open fine in OpenOffice Writer.
However, every so often you will get a rogue OpenOffice file that just won't behave. It crashes constantly, or behaves in other ways that just don't make sense.
In that case, the best approach is surgery.
OpenOffice file formats can be unzipped to reveal their components. Once you see their components, you can take copy different components from a different uncorrupted file and replace the corrupted ones in your problem file. Zip it all up together again, and whammo, your file works.
I'll show an example in Writer but the same principles apply to Calc, Draw, and Impress.
I like to make a copy of the problem file, just to make sure I can always get back to the original version. So I create a copy, give it a different name, and change the extension to .zip. (Or gzip, or whatever works for you on your operating system.)
I'm not going to go into painful detail about all of the content. But content.xml contains the content, styles.xml contains the style definitions, Pictures contains the graphics, and so on.
So here's what I do. If I have content but don't care about the styles, pictures, whatever else in the problem document, I:
- create a new totally empty OpenOffice document of the same type (Writer, Calc, etc.)
- change the extension to .zip and unzip it
- copy the content.xml file from the problem doc directory into the new empty doc directory, replacing the empty doc's content.xml file
- zip up the new empty doc directory
- change the .zip extension to .odt, .ods, or whatever
- and open it up again, using this as the new version of the problem document
If you have pictures and styles in the problem document that you need, then just copy the Pictures and Thumbnails directories, and the content.xml and styles.xml files, into the new empty doc directory, replacing the corresponding directories and files.
It's a techy but quite effective way to redo a document.
Would it be better to just copy and paste the content of the problem document to another new empty document? Not always--nasties have a nasty way of accompanying the content. But sure, try that first, and if that doesn't work, then do this.