The Word2008 Bug

When you see the blue border, you know it’s not going to be editable



If you use a Mac, and you use ChemDraw together with office 2008 then you probably know about this bug. For everyone out there using Office 2004… Don’t upgrade to Office2008!!!!


There is a bug with MS Office 2008 whereby pasted-in chemical structure graphics from Chemdraw (v.11 and earlier) lose their vector graphics component and just become bitmaps. If you attempt to copy-paste them back out again into the originating program (ChemDraw) they are no longer editable, they’re just bitmaps. This happens in Word2008  and PPT2008. I had not seen this before but there is a thread on it at Macintouch and the MS forums. Cambridgesoft blame MS, and MS blames Cambridgesoft. Neither promise a solution, but there is a ticket open at Apple as well. This has been around for ages and no-one seems to be fixing it.


To quote from the Cambridgesoft support pages:



MS Office 2008


For technical reasons, Microsoft removed the ability to retrieve the original chemical data in pictures pasted into Microsoft Word when they released Microsoft Office 2008 (if you copy and paste a structure in Word 2008, for example, into ChemDraw, you can’t edit it).


CambridgeSoft has been in contact with Microsoft regarding this issue, and they are aware of the problem. Microsoft has an open case with Apple regarding their technical problems in correctly implementing this feature (Apple RADAR case #5815892).


Until Microsoft releases a patched version of Office 2008, we recommend that our users switch to a previous version of Microsoft Office where this problem does not occur otherwise, you will need to save the ChemBioDraw files as separate documents. 




This did not occur with Office2004. Needless to say this is a disaster for us Mac using chemists. We have years and years of Theses, paper manuscripts, reports etc with these embedded graphics and there’s no way of getting them out anymore and in many, many cases there is no copy of the data in an original Chemdraw file format. 


Now I could sort of imagine a “huh- who cares about a few Mac Chemists” attitude from MS but guess what, this also affects users of other programs that use vector graphics. We have confirmed that this affects Adobe Illustrator and Graphpad Prism graphics as well. Why is noone there screaming blue murder at MS over this? I suspect that the answer is that most users of those packages are inherently used to saving their data in the original file format. Maybe it’s just us chemists who are so used to rapid copy-pasting graphics back and forth.


So what can we do about? Well complain for one. Sqeaky wheel and all that.  Two, and this harks back to the long-standing and still unresolved Mac-PC thing: Always save your Chemdraws. Don’t rely on MS to ever let you get the data back out from MS Orifice ever again. Me, I keep every ChemDraw I draw in a series of saved “MStemp11.cdx” files so they’re always there to send to one of our PC-using colleaugues or for using if MS Office2008 absolutely has to be used. But even though it’s now 5 years old, Office2004 is still the only one I use regularly. Hmmm, seems like deja vu, I’m sure the Word 5.1 -> 6.0 migration was just as bad. Actually no, that was worse. I used 5.1 right up to the release of 98.

About martin

almost on holidays
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1 Response to The Word2008 Bug

  1. Brian says:

    CambridgeSoft and Microsoft are pleased to announce a solution for copy & paste interoperability between Microsoft Office for Mac and ChemDraw. It is well known that changes in Mac OS X affected the “round-trip” editing between productivity suites such as Office for Mac and iWork, and many third party programs such as ChemDraw. We are now pleased to let our user communities know that the issue has been solved with the release of ChemDraw 12.0.2 (and ChemBioDraw 12.0.2) and Office for Mac 2011 version 14.0.1. The updated products take advantage of meta information in PDF files to provide the necessary chemical information which supports “round-trip” editing. For more information, please see CambridgeSoft’s support page ( or Microsoft’s announcement at

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