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If you deal with the PC side of the world, it's a good bet you're going to be dealing with the "zip" compression scheme. Yes, Aladdin makes the Stuffit Expander for Windows, but it has never caught on as a PC standard. Also, although Stuffit can decompress "zipped" files, it can only deal with the older, more basic kind, and it cannot compress into the Zip format at all. Using Zip compression makes you look like a hero to Windows folk, so consider getting the Tom Brown's must-have shareware utility "ZipIt v1.3.8." You can get it at:
< http://www.awa.com/softlock/zipit/zipit.html>. Once you pay the shareware fee, it will unlock itself and be at the ready.

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Figure 2: Zip it up -- Stuffit's compression twin in the PC world is the PKZip format. Using ZipIt, Mac people can save time and money during uploads to PC users, while looking like a hero at the same time. The Zip window looks very similar to the Stuffit Deluxe window.

Open says-me

The last of the Big 3 questions involved the software needed to open the target file. Most of us use either Word or ClarisWorks, and both of them can open many kinds of PC files from within themselves. Just go to "open" and see if your newly-received PC file shows up in the dialog box. And if you're going to send something to a PC user, you can simply choose "Save As..." and select the target format. Under normal circumstances, that would be that.

But most of the time, things aren't that normal. There are 2 glitches in this scenario: (1) the file opens, but not very well (i.e., the formatting is all messed up or things are missing), or (2) you can't open the file at all because your software doesn't understand it.

An easy way to deal with #2 is to always have current translators for your program... or the most current version of your program itself! ClarisWorks 5 can open many more kinds of files than version 4 did, while MS Word for Office 98 can open a lot more as well. And Microsoft has also released new translators for Word 5 that can open and save-as in both Word 6 for Mac and Windows, Word 97 and Word 98! You can get them from the Microsoft web site.

However, the best way to deal with this "translation" thing is to get and use the commercial version of MacLink Plus Translators from Dataviz. Many of you may have seen this already, as the MacOS installer has been putting a cut-down version of it on people's disks for years now. The install always has a special offer on upgrading to the commercial version. Do it!

The reason Dataviz is so cool is because all they think about all day long is translating PC files correctly to the Mac. (They also do Mac-to-Mac translations.) The latest version, 9.7.1 can handle all the newest abstruse Windows file formats -- over 400 hundred of them at last count -- and can then shove them into whatever Mac application you tell it to that is compatible. If you use the MacOS Easy Open system, you can do this right in an open or save dialog box!