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This chapter is from the book

Opening Windows Files on Your Mac

So you've got your files from your PC to your Mac. Now what? Despite the windows, icons, and mice, these are different operating systems that run different applications.

You've been used to opening .doc files in Microsoft Word and .ppt files in PowerPoint. The .exe files are executables and the .wmv files are videos. But getting any or all of these to open on a Mac can be tricky.

Document Files

If you have .doc files, they are in Microsoft Word format. You can open them using Microsoft Word on Mac, if you have purchased Microsoft Office for Mac. You can also open them in Pages if you have iWork.

If you have neither Word or Pages, your easiest option is to open them in the free TextEdit program that comes with your Mac. The formatting in complex documents may be lost, but the basics will be there.

You can also open .doc files using open source office software like OpenOffice. You can get that at http://www.openoffice.org. Another option is to use the free Google Docs website at http://docs.google.com to import and view the files.

Another popular type of document file is the .pdf, or Portable Document Format. These are sometimes known as Adobe Acrobat files, though they can be generated by just about any document creation application.

Opening .pdf files is easy on a Mac, as the Preview application handles them. If you like, you can also download the more complex Adobe Reader at http://get.adobe.com/reader/.

Presentation Files

Another type of file that may present some problems is the presentation file—almost certainly a PowerPoint presentation if it is coming from Windows.

Once again, Microsoft Office for Mac has the best solution with PowerPoint for Mac. But you can also open PowerPoint files in Keynote, if you have iWork. However, because visual effects differ between the two programs, you'll have some work to do to complete the transformation.

You can also use OpenOffice, which has a presentation application, and Google Docs to view the simplest of presentations as well.

Spreadsheet Files

If you use spreadsheets at work, chances are that they are Excel spreadsheets. You can get Microsoft Excel for Mac as part of Microsoft Office. And, honestly, it is probably your best option if you need to work with Excel spreadsheets.

Numbers is the spreadsheet program that comes with iWork, and it is very powerful, but quite different than Excel. It will not be easy to take a file back and forth, though it can be done. OpenOffice is closer to Excel if you really need the option.

Video Files

The standard video file format in Windows is a Windows Media file, a .wmv file. You can't play those files on a Mac without adding some extra software. Fortunately, it is free.

Go to http://www.telestream.net/ and download the free Flip4Mac WMV player. It is also shown on the site as the trial version of the Flip4Mac WMV Player Pro. If you don't plan to use it to make .wmv files, but only to watch them, the free trial is all you need.

After installing Flip4Mac WMV you can watch .wmv files in the QuickTime player and in Safari.

For other formats that QuickTime Player cannot handle by itself, try the VLC Media Player, another free download at http://www.videolan.org/vlc/. This can play back DivX and other odd formats.


If you have .exe files, these are Windows executable files. The equivalent are .app files on the Mac—but Mac users rarely see or notice the .app file extension, so these are just thought of as applications.

There is no good way to do anything with a .exe file in Mac OS X. It is a Windows program and can only be run under Windows.

But there are ways to run Windows on a Mac. We'll explore these in Chapter 18, "Running Windows on Your Mac." Using one of these methods, you can run .exe files.

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