How to Open .pub Files on Mac

Although it may be infrequent, there are times when we need to open a file created by a specific Windows application on our Mac. This can sometimes be difficult if that application and file format is not supported. You may find yourself in this situation if you have a .pub file.

Files with an extension of .pub are Microsoft Publisher files and while these are normally created in a Microsoft environment, there are a few different methods in which you can open them on your Mac. Most of the options are not too difficult but they may require some software.

My name is Eric and I have been a software engineer for over 20 years. I have worked with many different file types and being able to open file types on a system that they were not designed to work on can often be a difficult task but it is possible.

If you would like to learn a little about pub files and how you might be able to open them on your Mac system, keep reading and we will go over some of the possibilities.

What is a .pub File?

If you are unsure of what a .pub or pub file is, no worries we will cover it briefly. A pub file is a file with a .pub extension ( such as filename.pub ) which has been created by a Windows application called Microsoft Publisher. It is part of the Microsoft Office suite of applications.

Microsoft Publisher is a desktop publishing tool or application which focuses on design and page layout. By default, it saves the files in a .pub file which is its own native format. Microsoft Publisher can save the files in other formats such as PDF, HTML, and others.

Why Do I Have A .pub File or How did I Get One?

There are many reasons and ways that you may have gotten your hands on a pub file. A friend or colleague may have sent it to you, you may have downloaded it or you may have just found it on a flash drive you plugged into your computer and are curious as to what is in the file.

The file most likely contains formatted text and graphics meant to be displayed or presented to someone. If a friend or colleague is sending it to you, they may be wanting you to look at it to review it or give them feedback on it. If so, you need to find a way to open and view it.

You probably don’t have a way to open it on your Mac since it is made by an application that runs on a Windows PC. This may sound like a difficult problem but some solutions can help you to view the file. Let’s take a look.

Ways to View a PUB File on Your Mac

If you are looking to open a .pub file on your Mac, it can be frustrating but there are some things you can do. Below I have outlined six ways that you can possibly open the file.

1. Copy It to a Windows PC

Probably the first and most obvious way to solve this problem is to open the file in its native environment which is Windows. You can copy the file to a flash drive, to a network location, or a cloud location like Google Drive. You can then try to access it from a Windows PC.

If you have your own Windows PC you may be in luck. If not you could borrow one from a friend or co-worker or even go down to the library to use a public one. You’ll just need to make sure that the Windows PC you use has Publisher installed on it or access to Microsoft 365.

If you use MS 365 you will need Microsoft 365 Business Standard or higher. If needed you can get a free trial of this. Since this is an online version, you might be wondering if you can access it from your Mac, but I’m afraid that won’t work. It says that it only works on PC.

Image courtesy of Microsoft.com

2. Save It in a Different Format

It is possible to export pub files from Publisher to a different format such as PDF, HTML, and more. This still requires that you read the initial file into Publisher. If a friend or co-worker sent it to you, you can simply ask them to export it to a format such as PDF.

If you know anyone else that has Windows with Publisher you could also ask them to open and export it for you. If not you will again need to find a Windows PC with Publisher or access to MS 365. Once you have the file in PDF format you can easily read it on your Mac.

3. Online File Converter

You may have already seen this when you were searching for a solution to your pub file problem. There are online converters available that will convert your pub file to a PDF or other formats that you can use on your Mac.

These are handy and very easy to use. You can get your file converted rather quickly, but be aware that you are giving someone else (and their software) access to the file. This may be a bad idea if the file possibly has confidential or private information.

If that is not a worry for you, then this may be a perfectly good solution. I do suggest reading their user agreements or whatever else they may have to see what they do with your file and whether or not they keep the information from it.

I’m not going to list any of these online converters here. They are easy enough to find by doing a Google search. Just use caution if you do take this route.

4. LibreOffice

This is a nice solution, but if you don’t already have LibreOffice installed, it can take some time and disk space to do so. LibreOffice is a suite of tools similar to Microsoft Office. It is a free open-source solution that can be installed and will work on your Mac.

Once installed, you will be able to open the .pub files with LibreOffice Draw. This is an application similar to Publisher and it will not only open or import the file but will also let you edit it. The formatting will be slightly different so you may need to do some cleanup, but it will work.

Image Courtesy of LibreOffice.com

If you do make changes, you will not have the ability to save them in a .pub format. You will need to save them in Draw’s .odf format. If you are just using it to view them, then you will have no worries other than the formatting may not look exactly as it did in Publisher.

5. Windows VM

Running a Windows VM or Virtual Machine on your Mac desktop can be a solution for many issues that come up when needing to access or read something that someone has created in Windows.

Using a virtual machine is like running a whole separate computer in a window on your Mac’s desktop. You can run just about any kind of operating system including Windows. Once you have a version on your desktop you can then install and run Publisher.

There are a few different options for running VMs on a Mac. VMWare, Parallels, and Virtual box are some that you might want to take a look at.

6. Boot Camp

Using Boot Camp to install and run windows on your Mac computer is one more option. This allows you to select either Windows or your Mac OS at boot time. By booting into the Windows environment you can then run Publisher and open the files.

This option as well as the previous one may seem a little overboard just to open one or two pub files but if it is something you find yourself doing regularly and you don’t currently have a PC available, it is something that you might want to strongly consider.

Final Words

If you are a Mac user and have a pub file that you need to open, there are some options available as I have described above. You will need to decide which one is the best option for you. This may depend on the contents of the file or files and how often you need to do this.

Do you have any other methods for opening this type of file? Let me know if you do, I would love to hear from you.

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