I have hundreds of documents created from 1985 to 2006 in various versions of WordPerfect for DOS and Windows. Here's how I've managed them as I've switched over from Windows to Mac OS X.Running WordPerfect on the Mac:
Option 1: Windows virtualization - on an Intel Mac you can install Windows with Apple's Boot Camp, VMWare Fusion and/or Parallels Desktop. This wasn't an option for me since my first Mac was an an iMac with a 1.8 Ghz G5 PowerPC. Since then, I've got an Intel MacBook as well, but I've never bothered to install Windows.
Option 2: Windows on Q, a QEMU-based Intel emulator. I have successfully used Q on the PowerPC machine with Windows 98 and WP 8 -- font rendering isn't the greatest, but it is very usable. The biggest problem is that it is vulnerable to all the instabilities that made Windows 98 such a pain, and you need to go through the installation of Windows 98 and WP 8 for Windows in the emulator, which takes many hours. The Q wiki has details on installing Windows on Q.
Option 3: WP6.1 and 5.0 for DOS seem to work well with DOSBox (I haven't tried WP 5.1 as I don't have a copy but I expect it would work). Some shortcomings: you can't cut and paste between OS X and DOSBox directly. DOSBox can't print, but you can print to a Postscript (.ps) file, which can be opened and printed or converted to a PDF with OS X's built-in Preview. To install a Postscript printer, just follow steps 8 & 9 here. In theory, you could set up a Folder Action to get OS X to print the Postscript file automatically as soon as you create it in WP.Converting WordPerfect files:
All of the following involve translating WP documents to other formats.
NeoOffice and OpenOffice can open WP docs, but I find them excruciatingly slow. It takes NeoOffice 35 seconds to open a 4k WPD. I'll pass. NeoOffice and OpenOffice use libwpd for importing.
Nisus Writer Pro has become my word processor of choice on the Mac. It opens WP documents quickly and I haven't found a file yet that it won't open - it uses the AbiWord importer. It's also (as of 2012) the only option which is able to successfully import hidden Comments in WordPerfect documents, which makes it especially valuable for me.
For everyday use, when I only need to view or copy from WP documents, the open-source libwpd has been essential. I've used it to create the following:
View WPD as HTML - puts wpd2html in a contextual menu item, so you can preview WPD files in your default browser. In 2 seconds, this methods lets you view the same 4k WPD that takes NeoOffice 35 seconds to open.
Convert WPD to RTF - klktrk's update of my script
Convert many WPDs to RTFs - a bash script I wrote to do batch conversions. Macworld broke the direct link to the comment with this script but it appears in the comments on the link above.Searching WordPerfect files:
There's a Spotlight plug-in and QuickLook viewer created by Gero Hermann for WordPerfect files on OS X, recently updated to work with WordPerfect for Windows files as well as WP for the Mac.
EasyFind, a free program from Devon Technologies, can be made to search WordPerfect (and Quattro and Paradox) files. It won't do so by default, but if you install and start EasyFind, there's a light switch icon in the lower left. Click it and a drawer will pop out where you can specify the file extensions to search. Add wpd, wp, wb3, wb2, db or whatever else you want there (I've successfully found text in the contents of Quattro spreadsheets and Paradox databases, which Spotlight wouldn't have found even with Gero's plug-in).