Conversions Plus Lets Windows
Work with Mac Files and Drives
by (c) 2003 First published online in LowEndMac
, April 30,
2003 Mac2Windows column
As the minority platform, Mac users have to try
harder. As a
result, Apple has included the ability to read PC-formatted diskettes
since Apple File Exchange shipped with System 6 in the late 1980s.
Mac users have had to learn to live with the quirks of
file naming -- up until 1995, limiting file names to cryptic 8
letters, and even today remembering to add 3-letter file extensions to
email attachments and other documents destined to be read by a Windows
Sometimes, though, the shoe is on the other foot. Once
while a Windows PC user has to work with disks or files designed for
the Mac. This is the often case for users who have a Mac at home but
have to use a Windows system at work, for example.
company with a long tradition of helping Mac users read documents when
they don't have the application that created it. Limited versions of
their MacLink Plus filters have been included by Apple with some
versions of ClarisWorks/AppleWorks -- and even with some operating
system versions -- to help users open a wide range of documents.
Early versions of MacLink Plus included primitive (by
today's standards) connectivity between Macs and PCs; I have a version
that includes a serial cable with an oblong PC connector at one end
and a round Mac serial connector at the other. Software for DOS and
Windows 3.1 and for the Mac allowed the two systems to connect and
transfer files, which the MacLink filters translated into commonly
used Mac formats.
Currently, Apple is once again including a limited
DataViz's MacLink file translators with AppleWorks, providing users of
that program the ability to open files created with Mac and Windows
versions of Microsoft Office and other programs. And DataViz continues
to market the full version of MacLink
Plus (no longer including a serial transfer cable), giving
a the ability to view, open, and translate a wide range of Mac and PC
data files without needing the program that originally created them.
The company claims to have sold over 10 million copies of MacLink over
They've taken this long tradition of producing high
data translators and concerns with Mac/Windows compatibility and
produced a product for Windows users. Their MacOpener
2000 (US$50, $30 upgrade) and Conversions
Plus (US$70, $40 upgrade) programs give Windows users abilities
that Mac users take for granted -- the ability to read Mac-formatted
disks. In addition to Mac-formatted diskettes, CDs, and SCSI drives,
the latest versions let Windows users read Mac-formatted FireWire hard
drives, including the hard disk in Mac versions of Apple's iPod.
While Conversions Plus includes all of MacOpener's
to read Mac-formatted storage media, it adds the same range of file
translators; this allows Windows PC users to, for example, open old
documents created in MacWrite or the PC AmiPro in their current
version of Microsoft Word. (Conversions Plus -- but not MacOpener --
includes a copy of EphPod, a music management program that allows
Windows users to send music files to the Mac-formatted iPod).
Both MacLink and Conversions Plus include a large list
word processor, spreadsheet, database, and graphics file filters, but
they lack the ability to read page layout documents. (Too bad -- I'm
sure there is a niche market for the ability to open, say, old
Ready-Set-Go documents in PageMaker or Quark XPress or Word. Or even
to open PageMaker 3 documents in modern versions of PageMaker). Check Dataviz's
list for a full list of included translators.
While complex documents -- complete with imbedded
tables, and special formatting -- will inevitably pose problems,
Conversions Plus (and the Mac-equivalent MacLink Plus) does as good a
job as possible, allowing users to deal with a wide range of
documents, whether created on the other platform or with older, and
often no longer easily available software versions.
DataViz has recently dropped prices, making these
niche products more attractive, though they may still seem expensive
for casual users who might only need them once in a while. Moreover,
the company tends to require customers to pay full upgrade price for
what I consider fairly minor revisions.
There are a number of competing products to allow
PCs to read Mac-formatted media, but if you need to also read a wide
range of Mac (or older PC) document formats, DataViz's Conversions
Plus is your best bet.