Reading Mac disks on a PC

Listen to the podcast

Question: How can I read Macintosh disks on my PC?

The IT Guy says:
This has been a problem for decades, but is now getting to be much easier to deal with. The newer versions of the Mac and Windows have become much more friendly when it comes to sharing files, so disks created on one system can easily be read by the other.

However, there are times when you save a file on a Mac when it won't open with the application you want on a Windows computer. That's because Windows computers require what's called an extension to identify what type of file it is. This is a period followed by a short, three-letter segment at the end of the file name. You've seen them - .doc, .xls, .ppt, and so on.

The Mac system uses these extensions now, too, but doesn't require them, so it is possible to save a file on the Mac without them and still open it again without trouble. However, if you take that same file and put it on a Windows computer, if it doesn't have that extension it may not open when you double-click it. Windows won't know what application should be used.

To fix this, you can add the extension yourself. If you right-click on the file icon that you want to open, all the way down near the bottom of the list that appears will be Rename. If you select that, you can add the extension you need. The most common are .doc for Word documents, .xls for Excel documents, and .ppt for PowerPoint files. If the file you are trying to open is from a different program than these, find another file from that application and see what extension is listed at the end, then add that to the file you are trying to open.

To prevent the issue in the future, always watch when you save a file on a Mac to make sure that it is saving with the three-letter extension. Some applications such as Microsoft Office have a checkbox in the Save window that will make sure that is done automatically. Thanks for you question, and good luck with your files!

Next Tip: Converting Audio Tapes to CD, part 1

Tags