Getting Macs and PCs to share
by Alan Zisman
(c) 1999. First
published in Toronto Computes,
?PCs kick butt!?
Can?t we all just get along?
Like it or not, Macs and PCs have to co-exist? often
within a single
company, school, or even home.
To a certain extent, the two platforms can and do
applications share file formats between the two platforms, or at least
can read files created on the other platform. For years, Apple has
a utility with its system software (under various names?Apple File
PC Exchange, and more), so a Mac can read and write to a PC-formatted
And e-mail is a great way to bridge the gap. When I
this article on my PC, I attached it to an e-mail message, and sent it
off to my Mac-using editor.
But all too often, this isn?t enough. Unlike Macs, PCs
can?t read Mac-floppies.
And there are lots of different file formats out there. In fact, it?s
uncommon for a PC-user to get an unreadable PC file, or a Mac-user to
an unreadable Mac file.
Connecticut DataViz is the great peace-maker.
Their MacLinkPlus on the Mac and Conversions Plus for
Windows have set
the standard for file conversion between the two solitudes, but also
files generated within one platform or the other. In fact, Apple used
include limited versions of MacLinkPlus, both as part of its system
and with its ClarisWorks application.
Now, both products have been updated, to version
10 on the Mac
and 4.5 for Windows. Each offers new and improved interfaces, up to
converters, and new features.
Both the Mac and Windows version lurk quietly in the
when you double-click an unknown file type, they pop up, offering to be
of assistance. (Yes, both operating systems do that too. The difference
is that with the appropriate DataViz product, in most cases you
can read the file!)
And in most cases, the conversion works well, bringing
across not just
the text, but formatting, fonts (where possible), and embedded
Right-clicking (in Windows) or Control-clicking (in
Mac OS 8.x) on a
datafile brings up a context menu, offering the ability to view or
the file directly. While Windows offers an optional QuickView utility,
it only works with a small range of file types, and lacks the
possibilities available in Conversions Plus.
Both versions also work with e-mail. They offer lots
of power for dealing
with attached files, allowing you to translate them to a format you can
use. As well, they can properly deal with compressed files, and
UUEncoding?which can appear in e-mail or newsgroup messages as ?garbage
Finally, you can open the utilities directly, getting
access to the
programs? recognition, translation, decompression, and viewing
for any file on your system. This makes it easy to work with groups of
files at one time. The interfaces, while similar, are not clones?they
reflect the quirks of their chosen platform.
The Windows version adds the capability to read Mac
zip disks, and more.
A must have for people working in a mixed Mac/PC
environment, or for
anyone who frequently encounters unreadable file types.