Mossberg offers advice on switching from Windows to Mac

This week Walt Mossberg’s mailbox contained another question about switching from Windows to Mac. Mossberg writes a weekly tech Q&A column for The Wall Street Journal.

Q: If I switch from Windows to a Macintosh, will my colleagues be able to read any Mac files I send them?

A: There is no such thing as a “Mac file.” The Macintosh today can create and read all the major standard types of files that Windows PCs use. For instance, photos in the common JPG format; music files in the common MP3 format; Adobe PDF files; text files; and many other types of files can simply be moved between Windows and Mac computers with no conversion necessary. Microsoft Office files, like Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents, can also be shared between the two platforms, without conversion, if you have the Office program suite on both ends. The Mac’s built-in email program, Apple Mail, even has a setting for sending “Windows Friendly” attachments.

There are some specific programs on both platforms that can create proprietary file types not easily opened, or opened at all, on the other platform. Most annoyingly, the Windows and Mac versions of Quicken don’t share a common file format. But now that the new Macs can also run Windows, you can always launch Windows on your Mac in a pinch to run a program that can handle some Windows-only file type.

More Mossberg’s Mailbox here.

MacDailyNews Note: Find much more information about switching from Windows to Mac OS X here.

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  1. DanDrums:

    Both Mariner Calc and Appleworks can open an Excel (.xls) file. Also NeoOffice contains a spreadsheet that appears identical to Excel. I have used it successfully to import and export Excel files. You could also run CrossOver Mac to install Excel on your Mac and work with it directly – without Windows.

  2. “Most annoyingly, the Windows and Mac versions of Quicken don’t share a common file format.”

    Hence, one of many reasons Quicken sucks ass. It’s no Lotus Notes, mind you, at least in terms of general awfulness…. but what is?

  3. I like the qestion immediately before the switching question…

    Q: When I open the Windows Task Manager, I note that there are anywhere from 52 to 57 “processes” operating on my PC. I am sure this is slowing things down.

    A: This is one of the major banes of using Windows — every program and even some Web sites think it’s OK to install and run in the background all sorts of little, and not-so-little programs, which create the “processes” you are seeing. Some of them may even be spyware and adware. And, yes, they do slow down your computer.

    Yep, running Windows is a bane, ditch it and see the answer to my next question…

  4. I work at a computer stor (am not allowed to say which one, of course), where about 80% of my sales are Macs, and it’s amazing how well Microsoft has kept and continues to keep people in the dark. I get questions, like, “Do I need to buy an Apple printer with this?” or “Will I be able to open Doc files with Microsoft Word for Mac?” or even “Can I open things like pictures or pdfs on a Mac?” I show them the light and all the wonderful things, and they are out the door with a new Mac and Apple Care. Simple as that.

  5. walt,

    Way to go!! As has been said before, Microsoft isn’t the one keeping the world “in the dark” about what Macs can do … it’s Apple’s fault!

    At least they’re doing some advertising now to try to shine some light on the poor Windows herd … the more the better!

  6. I was a campus rep last year for apple in my university, and you wouldn’t believe the howlers i heard. Do Macs have colour screens? Do Macs have the internet (sic)? And so forth. Dandrums: your best bet is to install or NeoOffice – both are open-source, free office suits. Their Excel compatibility is excellent.

  7. “There are some specific programs on both platforms that can create proprietary file types not easily opened, or opened at all, on the other platform.”

    I hate it when people mention this issue since its not a platform issue, but an application issue – it can happen Windows to Windows if one doesn’t have PhotoShop, Access, Publisher, Acrobat or any other program.

    So what. Windows can’t open my Keynote, Pages, AppleWorks or Garageband documents and it is a pain, but at least I can run Windows on my Mac if I need to – Windows users can’t do anything.

    Magic word ‘glass’: Windows users living in grass houses should not stow thrones.

  8. Holy Mackerel –

    It’s clearly listed as a program problem, not a platform issue, and it does not refer to apps which don’t exist on the other side (e.g., Keynote, Garageband) It uses Quicken as an example. It exists for OSX and Windows, but you cannot use your Quicken for Windows file in Quicken for OSX.

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