Using Files Between OS X and Windows

Using Files Between OS X and Windows

Range Govindan
Feb 1, 2011

We've recently started the process of transferring over some files from our Windows PC to our MacBook Pro. It occurred to us that in the past there were file compatibility issues between different operating systems, like Unix and Windows, as well as Macs and PCs. Is this still a problem in OS X?

There's good news. Most files are compatible between OS X and Windows PCs. For best performance, it's suggested that you upgrade your Mac to the latest version of OS X (currently OS X Snow Leopard). Some earlier versions had problems with certain files. If you've got Microsoft Office installed both on your PC and Mac (or Apple Pages or Numbers), you can port Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other office file formats easily between your computers.

1. MS Office File Formats From .docx to .xls files, MS Office files will work across platforms.

2. Other Popular File Formats PDF, JPG, ZIP, MP3, and PSD files are also compatible between Macs and PCs.

3. Font Files We've got a bunch of fonts installed and some of our Word documents use them. We went through the most important ones and had no problems installing them via a USB drive onto our Mac using FontBook.

4. Windows Video and Audio File Formats WMV and WMA files used to be a problem to play on Macs, but you can play them easily enough using VLC. This player has integrated codecs, so you don't have to worry about installing any. For PCs, I prefer using KMPlayer.

5. Outlook Files If you're trying to transfer your emails from a PC-based Outlook to Mac, you might run into some problems. Mac's Outlook 2011 supports .pst imports from Outlook 2003 and onwards. Simply export the files on your PC into a .pst file and then import it on your Mac's Outlook.

If you are still having issues with file compatibility, you can always install Windows 7 on your Mac using Boot Camp. We've found that transferring large files is a lot easier using a direct cable connection between our Mac and PC. Alternatively, any USB hard drive will do as well, but the DCC is so much more elegant.

(Images: Flickr member Nathan Dailo licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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