Become a Mac Pro: A Guide to Mac File Types

Transferring data from one computer to another is a learning process. This is especially true when it uses a different OS or it has a different set of hardware. New Mac users especially have a lot to learn.

If you’re a Mac user, prepare to get used to the command shortcuts, the different scroll-wheel interactions, and the different apps used.

A common problem that new Mac users encounter is in the different Mac file types present in a computer powered by Mac OS. This can be a confusing time for a new Mac user, especially when switching from Windows.

Today, we will look at how these files work and how to go about them.

1. Mac-Exclusive File Types in Disks

One of the things that you will notice when you use either a thumb drive or an external hard drive is the presence of new files.

This happens to Mac-exclusive volumes or any disk that you used on a Mac computer. You only see these when your settings on the Windows computer allows you to see hidden files and folders.

The presence of these new Mac files might be confusing at first if you’re transitioning. Some of these folders appear to be duplicates that start with a dot-underscore. This is information that has no set directory which results in them placed in a hidden folder.

When accessing this disk or volume on a Mac computer, the information gets allocated back to where it should be. For example, a file called HelloWorld.jpg has a hidden file saved as ._HelloWorld.jpg. That is the “dot-underscore” file.

2. The Disk Utility on Mac

Picking up on hard drives and volumes pointed out earlier, it is possible to set up a hard drive to only work on Mac OS. You can do this through the use of Disk Utility. This comes in handy when you need to use external volumes for backing up your files.

By setting the file system formats to APFS or the Mac OS Extended, you add a degree of security encryption on the hard drive. This file system formats optimize the hard drive for use with the Mac operating system.

Take note, however, it becomes incompatible for use with other systems like Windows.

You can also have a hard disk formatted with file systems compatible with Windows as well. Begin by setting the file system format to use MS-DOS (FAT) or ExFAT on Disk Utility. Afterward, you can configure the volume for use on both Windows computer and Mac OS devices.

This detail comes in handy when you have to format thumb drives, flash drives, or external hard drives.

3. File Types from Mac-based Apps

You might also encounter Mac file types that do not open on Windows since it does not correspond to any file type. This could be a document or a spreadsheet that you might be working on using a Mac. This file ends up not loading when on a Windows computer.

This happens when you have apps present in the iWork office suite. This is an exclusive suite of apps designed for the Mac OS. These counterparts to Microsoft Office include Pages, Keynote, and Numbers.

Files saved using these apps have a different extension compared to the ones used on the likes of OpenOffice or Microsoft Office. For example, a document saved in Pages saves the files with a “.pages” extension. You cannot open this on any word processing app except with Pages.

A solution to this is to have the document saved or exported into a “.docx” file. This is useful if you still plan to edit the file on a Windows computer. Or you could use a PDF file instead if you want a finalized document that you can access anywhere.

4. Files You Can Access on Both Systems

On the bright side, you have files that you can access on both Windows and Mac OS. There are a lot of these apps that stand out as universal due to software support. These range from media files to documents. Here are some notable file types that you can access on both computers.

Media Files (Images, Videos, and Audio Files)

Media files transcend platforms as the file types for each of them work on every device. You can access image files with ease using Finder and Preview on the Mac OS.

Video files work differently. They need specific codecs to let you play them on your video player. Mac OS uses Quicktime but you can use the VLC player as well (available on both platforms).

For audio files, the shift has gone from mp3 to FLAC due to its lossless format. This makes it an attractive choice for audiophiles. Once again, the codec plays a role here for Windows, as this enables its media player to play FLAC files. With iTunes, you can run FLAC files easily without worry.

Zipped Files

Something that both platforms can share is with zipped files. It allows you to compress folders in a neat package. This makes it easier to send files online or over another external volume.

If you are a new Mac user, you can do this operation on your Mac. You can look at these steps to learn more about how to unzip files as well as how to zip them.

5. File Conversion

Now, there are situations where you need to convert a file to a different format. One solution is by exporting or saving the file to a different format. Other times, you might also need a file converter to solve this problem.

You can check out the App Store for a myriad of file conversion solutions.

Manage Mac File Types with Ease

By knowing how Mac file types behave across platforms, you can ease yourself during your os transition. Over time, you may notice that you can work on both a Mac computer and a Windows computer without issue.

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