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iMac/PC relations
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marc riede
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Dec 6, 2000, 05:22 AM
Hereís the set-up:

My daughter lives with me in an iMac [9.0.4] environment.

She spends time at her motherís place [a PC environment]

Sheís going to high school next year [another PC environment]

Hereís the problem:

How to make her work readable and writable across platforms on PC formatted disks. For basic text we can transfer it via e-mail but Iím sure sheís going to need to include graphs, graphics, pictures, fonts & formatting etc, etc.

So far Iíve come across:

MacLinksPlus - As far as I can tell weíve only got the control panel and import/export translaters in Appleworks.

Appleworks [script converter] - Iím a bit vague on this one; Iím guessing word files are dragged to appleworks?

PC/file exchange - I seem to only have the control panel for this one and canít make sense of it.

Virtual PC - If I buy this do I have to buy the windows programs as well?

SoftWindows - I know nothing about this [is it similar to Virtual PC?].

Easy Opener - will this control panel let us work on windows documents? Will it work at all?

MS†Office 98 for Mac - Should I just buy this?

BBEdit - This only handles text, doesnít it?

Claris Translators - Isnít this part of Appleworks?

Acrobat PDF - I know this is read only.

Other confusing lines that keep getting thrown at me include:

*lowest common format
*correct file attributes
*conversion utilities etc, etc ...

Honestly, Iíve tried doing my homework & trial runs but Iím just chasing my tail and going mad. The shop where I spent 2 grand buying my iMac has changed hands to a pack of morons who know less than I do [If you can believe that].

Iíve got 2 months to get this thing sorted so any, I mean any, help will be met with much gratitude.

Cheers, Marc.
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Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Brooklyn
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Dec 6, 2000, 05:30 PM
>So far Iíve come across:
>MacLinksPlus - As far as I can tell weíve only got the control panel and import/export translaters in Appleworks.

If she's using MS Office on the PC side and you have it on the Mac side you probably wont need this - they have built in translators for this purpose. However, if it's only Word documents she'll be working with she can easily save any Word document in Rich Text Format (RTF). It's an option in the save window of both Mac and Windows versions of Word. The RTF format makes going between platforms really easy for word documents.

>Appleworks [script converter] - Iím a bit vague on this one; Iím guessing word files are dragged to appleworks?

Perhaps MacLink Plus can help you out w/ converting to/from apple script from/to MS Word or whatever text program she's working w/ in Windows.

>PC/file exchange - I seem to only have the control panel for this one and canít make sense of it.

That control panel is really for letting your mac know how to handle the "dot" extension of a PC document if you try to open it up on your mac (like if u have a .doc file from a PC then your mac will first try to open the file up in Word). But this is not for translating, so it wont really help you much w/out another program like MacLink plus.

>Virtual PC - If I buy this do I have to buy the windows programs as well?

VPC usually ships w/ a version of windows included (or Linux if you want). VPC allows you to emulate a different operating system on your computer, NOT so you can convert files for use. If you get VPC AND purchase the same program your daughter uses at mom's/school THEN she'll have no problems going back and forth. I think this is overkill for what you're trying to do - this would be a good solution if she needed to run a specific program that would ONLY run on windows.

>MS†Office 98 for Mac - Should I just buy this?

If she is using MS Office on Windows, then this is a smart buy - but you may want to consider MS Office 2001 which was recently released. If she's using Office for windows then going back and forth will be pretty easy with some small attention to how she saves her files - for text, the RTF format is the way to go.

>BBEdit - This only handles text, doesnít it?

Not for what you need. This program is mosly used by HTML jockey's and programmers.

>Acrobat PDF - I know this is read only.

This is for document distribution across any popular platform. Not what you need for this situation.

If she's using Office for Windows then get Office for Mac and work out the minor transition issues via trial and error. Getting MacLink Plus in addition to this would make things almost fail safe. For just Word docs saving them in RTF should do the trick. For Excel things should go back and forth, but if not a program like MacLink Plus may help out. I'm not sure about PowerPoint.

Clinically Insane
Join Date: Apr 2000
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Dec 6, 2000, 05:44 PM
I haven't read this thread or anything, but your best option depends on the software available at the school.
MS Word documents are cross platform, as are AppleWorks/ClarisWorks docs.
What software does the school use?

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Dec 6, 2000, 09:10 PM
As far as MS Office docs, you shouldn't have any cross-platform problems opening them as long as you remember to use the right extension when you create one on the Mac. For Word files I generally use .doc rather than .rtf, and have no problems between Office 98 (Mac) and Office 97 or 2000 (PC). Rtf works too, but takes forever to open. Powerpoint does work across platforms, as well. BTW, Win ME is able to figure out what app to use for Office docs even without the extension (though it still shows the generic Windows file icon).

You will probably find occasional minor page formatting differences when printing a document created on a PC and printed from the Mac and vice versa. Margins may be different and some bitmap graphics may get distorted. These are usually only a problem if you do fancy page layouts.

I think most schools use MS Office these days, but Cipher 13's recommendation to check is good in any case. My daughters have been taking floppies back and forth between school (PC) and home (Mac) for several years without any problems. Just make sure you have current virus protection and watch out for viruses coming home from school! Kids spread the binary types as well as the biological!
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Dec 9, 2000, 09:42 AM
petek wrote:
As far as MS Office docs, you shouldn't have any cross-platform problems opening them as long as you remember to use the right extension when you create one on the Mac. For Word files I generally use .doc rather than .rtf, and have no problems between Office 98 (Mac) and Office 97 or 2000 (PC).

I've never had problems going from *Mac to PC*, other than the minor formatting problems Petek mentioned, but I have had problems going from *PC to Mac*. In Office 97/Office 2000 on PC to Office 98/2001 on Mac a lot of extra and misinterpreted/not-interpreted code shows up when I open a document that was saved as a .doc file (regular word documents) that is why I started using .rtf (rich text format) whenever I'm moving a file from a PC to Mac.

Also, I've never noticed a time difference when opening an .rtf on my G3 - tho there probably is a very slight one. Most of my files are under 30 pages long and I usually don't use any extraordinary formatting.


Oh, and don't forget a disk drive for your iMac
Join Date: Dec 2000
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Dec 9, 2000, 05:31 PM
"Lowest common file type" is important. Pics should be saved in .jpeg/.jpg format, any Mac or PC should be capable of openning these without any specialized 3rd party software. Text should be saved in .txt format. These are the lowest common denominators on both platforms usually. More then this get's "trickier".

Mac to PC can be a problem, adding the proper file extension is important and using a DOS formatted disk. Your mac will read a DOS disk, but PC's cannot recognize Mac formatted disks without special software like MacOpenner or whatever.

The only pesky file type I've come accross as a Mac user is word files. I do suggest MS Word or just the whole MS Office suite. We get .doc files at work and they're a real pain to deal with in the pre-press department. PDF files can be viewed with Adobe Acrobat reader, but you can create and edit PDF's with Adobe Acrobat 4 (full version).

PDF is useful since almost ANY file can be saved as a Postscript file and converted to a PDF via distiller. But most people don't own the full blown acrobat but rather the reader (which is a freebie).

Again least common file type will ease the transition accross platforms. Two most simple are .JPEG or .JPG (same thing really) and .TXT. Not all Macs came with Appleworks or Claris (none of my OS's have had it, and I've yet to see it on any OS CD.....regional distribution thing? Hmmmm). I'd likely get MS Office for Mac which will ease the transition on those pesky and proprietory (but popular) MS software file formats.

Other things to really consider is what other software is ON the PC's that data will be exchanged with. Most software file formats are cross platform provided the same software is on both. QuarkXPress PC will open in QuarkXPress Mac, Photoshop PC will open on Photoshop Mac, etc., etc. If not on both, it may not be necessary to invest alot in software but simply remember to save in "the lowest common file type" I.E. .JPG saved from Photoshop on a PC should open in Quicktime 4 Picture Viewer on the Mac.

Get a drive for the iMac also, aim for the highest capacity drive type and media that can be exchanged on both if you can, you'll get alot more "mileage" out of it. A CD-RW may be your best bet, there's few PC's or Macs "left" that don't have a CD-ROM built-in these days. Outside of CD-R/RW (which I'm not sure requires an OS format) remember to formatt disks in DOS so they can be read on the PC, also remember to add the proper file extensions (I.E. "dot" TXT > .txt). And keep the file-names saved from your Mac to a minimum, (I believe 12 characters is the most you can go including the file extension I.E.> "scoobydo.txt").

A Mac formatted disk won't be capable of being read on the PC without special translating software and the PC will usually prompt to re-formatt the disk (if I even remember right from my PC "daze", 'course maybe windows has actually gotten better about this since Win 95). Your iMac with a disk drive will read a PC disk and FileExchange should aid in translation of the file type extension(s).

Hope this helps

marc riede
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Dec 10, 2000, 06:11 PM
Thank you one and all for taking the time to reply.

I appreciate it a lot.

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Dec 10, 2000, 11:47 PM
Why has noone mentioned Office 2001. I regularly work on both platforms (own an iMac, work on a G4, mother has PC and school only has PCs) and transfering files from word, excel or powerpoint is no problem at all. I even have the added challenge of having all the Icelandic characters right. Passes with flying colours. In my company I'm the only Macuser and the local area network is set up on a NT system - which means I interact with PCs with all my files. I use DAVE for accessing the LAN. As some have said using VPC or softwindows will be the same as using a SLOWa** PC I can agree with that.
My advice is get Dave (or MacSOHO, same thing basically) for interacting and copying files, get Office 2001 to open files from school and such and then own acrobat (for pdf files), soundjammp (for mp3 files) and IE5 for internet (compatibility issue). My experience is that most PC users are using office (word, excel and powerpoint) and exchanging with them is no hassle in 2001.
Of course I recommend you BUY all these programs. Whether you do so yourself is left for you conscience to decide.

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Dec 11, 2000, 05:04 AM
I live in a world dominated by PCs, as do we all, I guess. But in my setting, I'm the sole Mac user in a some-200 PC setting.

As MS Office is the defacto in the Philippines, I purchased a copy of MS Office 2001 right away. I know I can make-do with AppleWorks 6, but I've already spent quite some time with Office that AppleWorks seems to be a bit lacking for me. I have had no problems with transferring documents from my Mac to PC, except for the occasional page editing issues as previously mentioned. The reverse is true as well: PC-to-Mac transfer yields a slight page-sizing problem, not to mention font unavailability.

As for "complex" Word documents, i.e., Word docs containing pictures, references, etc, there've been no major problems. The illustrations/diagrams come out as expected.

Basically, what you need is an application that can translate files for you, or an application that has cross-platform compatibility. As earlier mentioned, AppleWorks and MS Office are cross-platform, so the only troubes are the minor issues. However, if the program used on the PC has no equivalent on the Mac, that may be a problem, unless their is an alternate program for the Mac that can handle it.

I use VPC for testing my programs to be deployed on PCs, although I must admit its not the best solution. I also use VPC for certain PC-only applications which we use in school, such as Physics diagramming programs and various educational tools not available on the Mac.

For word processing documents, its adviseable to use RTF for cross-platform compatibility. Although it may introduce page-formatting issues, it ensures that the text and formatting, and hopefully the layout, is safely transported. For graphics, JPG is ok, although it is lossy. TIFF and PNG are also ok file formats. You can use the shareware GraphicConverter from Lemkesoft to open practically almost all graphics file formats.

MacLinksPlus Deluxe makes a valuable tool for most programs, by the way.
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