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Opening Mac Files With Windows

written by: Om Thoke•edited by: Eric Stallsworth•updated: 10/31/2009

In earlier days, Mac files could be opened in only Apple Macintosh machines, but now you can use them even on Windows OS. This article explains how to open Mac files with Windows in detail.

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    In order to be able to open Mac files with Windows, it is necessary that you save them using the same program, using which; you’re planning to open them in Windows. There are several common options such as MS Word, VLC, QuickTime, which are available in Mac as well as Windows Platform.

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    Saving in the Correct Format

    Of course, file names as such don’t matter, but you must suffix the 3 letter extensions such as .doc, .mp3 etc to be able to open the file in Windows platform. If you save the file with correct extensions that are recognizable by Windows, you can simply open these Mac files in Windows environment by double-clicking them (just as you do to open any other file). In the process, formatting will also be most likely retained.

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    Beware of Special Characters in File Names

    No prizes for guessing that Windows doesn’t permit characters such as \ * /? “< : > | in files names, while they are considered perfectly legal in Mac. So, it is your duty to ensure that you don’t save the file using such characters in Mac, which are considered illegal in Windows; otherwise you can’t simply expect your PC to be able to open them.

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    What if you don’t have the Same Program Available in Mac and Windows Environment?

    You may face situations wherein there’s no common application available on Mac and Windows environment. For instance, if you don’t have a word processor in Mac that can save files in .doc format, then you should think about the most common formats.

    Tip: Under such circumstances, always save documents as RTF (rich text format), images/pictures as JPEG, and music files as MP3. Having saved them in the desired form in Mac, you’ll have to click on the option “open with" and select the application that can read such files. For instance, if you’ve saved an image an JPEG file, you can select – open with – MS Paint or MS Picture Manager or any other application that can read JPEG images.

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    Not Bothered About Formatting?

    Sometimes, you might want to extract some text info from a Mac machine, which doesn’t have internet connectivity, and you just need to transfer it on to a PC (assuming you don’t have a USB drive handy either). In such cases, if you’re not bothered about the formatting then you can save text document as Plain Text. This plain text file will easily open with any Word Processor in any environment, though you’ll end up losing all the formatting.

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    Try Opening in QuickTime

    QuickTime is one of the most comprehensive applications that works equally well in Mac as well as Windows environment. So, this means you need not convert Mac files, and you can simply open them in Windows using QuickTime.

    You can open JPEG, GIF, TIFF images, as well as audio/video clips with QuickTime – virtually all kinds of multimedia files. It can even open iPod compatible formats, .aac and other extensions too.

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    Emulation Applications

    You can also make use of Windows 95/98 emulation apps that can turn your Mac into a "virtual" PC. If you’ve any such package running on your Mac machine, there’ll be no necessity of converting files to be able to use them on a PC.

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    Commercial Conversion and Translation Programs

    If nothing works, there are countless conversion programs available in the market that can translate Mac file formats to PC compatible formats.

    Here are some free Mac to PC conversion programs

    And, you may also find this website handy: