How to Save Microsoft Word Document Image Files as Separate Files

Word Document files are not just for words any more.  Documents are now crafted with embedded images. There could be just one, or dozens of images in a single document.  And sometimes, you want to save those image files as separate documents, to use outside of Microsoft Word.  The creator of the document may not always be able to provide them.  How do you separately save images embedded in a Microsoft Word document?

The “obvious” way would be to right-click the image and select the “Save Image As” tab, for each image you want to save.  You could individually copy and paste each image into an image program, and save them there.  It’s even possible to create or borrow a macro program to seek and save images from Microsoft Word documents.  All of these tactics, however, are both time- and labor-intensive.  The quickest and easiest ways to save embedded images as individual files are to unzip the .docx file, if you are using Word 2007, or to save the Word document as a web page, if you use Word 2000, 2002/XP, or 2003.

The easiest way to save embedded files as separate files is to unzip the Microsoft Word file.  You need Word 2007 to do this.  Microsoft rolled out a .docx file format based on XML when they released Word 2007.  This format acts as a ZIP folder, holding a collection of XML files, and all the embedded elements including graphs, charts, and images.  Here are the steps to easily access image files using this process:

  • If the file isn’t already saved as a Word Document file, open the file in Word 2007 and save it as a .docx file.
  • Then, on the original filename, change the file extension from .docx to .zip.
  • Open the file with your favorite ZIP application.
  • You can now select all the image files you like, and move or copy them to another folder.

If you have an earlier version of Microsoft Word than 2007, you cannot unzip it using this tactic, so you must save it as a web page to save the embedded images separately.  To save the document file as a web page, using Words 2000, 2002/XP, or 2003, there are a few simple steps.

  • Open the Microsoft Word document.
  • Using the File toolbar, select “Save As” and navigate to the folder you’d like the document saved in as a web page.
  • Using the “Save As” drop-down, select “Web Page” (.htm or .html) and name and save the document.

Word will automatically create a file folder to hold all of the images in your document.  It saves all the image files in a subfolder, in the same file location as the main document file in .htm format, so you can easily find the images – or any other supporting files connected to the document.  It’s that simple.

For your added convenience, you can tell Word to save your files in the same location as the .htm file, instead of a folder in the Web Options window.  The .htm file contains everything you need to know about the document, from text and properties to formatting information and information about the embedded images.

It’s likely that the image file has been resized to place within the Word document.  In that case, the folder will have both versions – the original and the resized version.  They will be saved right next to each other, with the original placed first.  Word will keep the file format of the images, but will rename the files in the order in which they appear in the document.

If you only care about the resized images, however, you can save the Word document as a “Web Page, Filtered” instead of a “Web Page.”  Both are available as options in the “Save As” drop-down.

When the document is saved from a Word document to a web page format, depending on the settings of your Word program, the images may be saved in a different file format, such as .gif, in addition to the original file format.  You can select the file you want, and transfer it to a different file location for use.

Whichever method you are able to use, you will find it to be a quick and easy task when you want to save images embedded in Microsoft Word documents as separate files.

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