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Send A Document To A Windows PC And Guarantee It Can Be Opened

This has to be the number 1 question we get asked by new Mac owners who have just switched from a Windows PC. Although you have a fancy Mac, your colleagues and friends may not. Therefore, you need to make sure any presentations, spreadsheets, letters and other documents you need to share are going to work.

It’s a fair and common misconception that files are not compatible between Macs and PCs. In truth, nearly everything should work. There are a few rules to keep to so read closely.

  • You can view, but not edit most documents right out the box. Select any document using the Finder App and press spacebar on the keyboard to take a quick-look. You cannot edit or print, but for getting a quick glade at a document can be very useful and requires no extra Software.
  • To create, edit and share  you’ll need an ‘Office Package’. This includes a word processor, Spreadsheet app and Presentation app. We will be looking at 3 choices and why you may want each one.

Microsoft Office (Word, Powerpoint and Excel) £89 from Microsoft.com/mac

For the best compatibility between your Microsoft Office documents, you’re best using the latest offering of Office (Currently 2011). Word, Excel and Powerpoint documents will look exactly the same on a PC as they do on a Mac. You can send them on to your friends simply saving your work onto a memory stick or attaching it into an email.

If you are sending a document to a friend using a version of Office which predates 2007. Save an extra copy as a 1997-2004 compatible file, this can be done from File>Save As.

If you are sending a document created with Microsoft Office and you think that the recipient may not have any office software, you can save it as a PDF file. A PDF will look 100% the same on any other computer. So long as the recipient has a PDF viewer. Nearly all computers and mobile devices will have one. Otherwise a PDF reader can be downloaded for free online, such as Adobe Reader.

You can save a document as a PDF file by going to File>Save As. Then choose ‘PDF’ as the file format.

Note: A PDF is a locked document and cannot be edited further. If you need to  make further changes to your document, keep the original document too!


Apple iWork. (Pages, Numbers, Keynote) Price: £13.99 Each

On a Mac you can choose to have an all-apple office experience. We really love it! iWork works just like any other Mac app and is incredibly intuitive to use.  Having said that, if you want to share your beautiful creations with others, you’ll need to follow some different rules.

You can save your documents as Microsoft Office files. Be careful as there can be small differences in how documents will look when they are saved as a MS Office document. You can only be sure a document looks 100% the same by saving as a regular iWork documents (but will only work on a Mac) or save as a PDF.

To save a MS Office copy of a document. Open your document in Pages, Numbers or Keynote. Click on Share>Export from the Menu bar (top of screen). Then choose where to save an extra copy. This is useful for dragging into an email or saving to a USB stick. You can also save a PDF using the same menu. (Read above for why you may need to save as a PDF)


Libre Office. (Writer, Spreadsheet, Presenter & More) Free from libreoffice.org/download/

This is a FREE office package created by volunteers and funded by large organisations. Many governments and schools use Libre Office and Open Office as it saves a lot of money. Libre Office stems from Open Office, but is far more up-to-date and bug-free. It may be all you need, yet it’s not quite as user friendly.

Microsoft Office will open Libre Office files and vice versa. However, for better compatibility and to edit on a Mac with iWork re-save a document as a Word file. You can do this from File>Save As. Change the file type to Microsoft Word.

Finally you can also save a file as a PDF too, just like iWork and Microsoft Office. Look under File>Export as PDF.

What do you use and what experiences have you had with sharing documents. Leave us a comment and let us know.


Trusted Certified Apple Pro

I'm Luke, I used to work for Apple in Southampton as a trainer and technician. I am also a qualified Apple Pro with certifications in Aperture 3 and Final Cut Pro. I am also a qualified school teacher and work part-time at a school in the New forest.

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Trusted Mac Teacher

We asked for Luke to come in for a training day with our staff since we were taking over the running of a Mac office and all had very little experience of using them. We found the half a day of training exceptionally useful. We were taught basic things, however we could already see that they would greatly increase our productivity and understanding of how to get the best out of using the Mac computers. The session was the best of both worlds of being taught the basics that we were lacking but without going too basic and wasting time. Will definitely be getting Luke back in again soon!

Stuart, Southampton

Thank you Luke for sorting out all my Apple issues! Luke was able to set up my multiple computers, phones and iPads with home and business email and calendar accounts. I have used his services multiple times and he always knows what to do, from printers, wifi and fix any issues whenever my Mac breaks or I need help with Office apps. Highly recommended.

K Van Der Vorm, Lymington