A series of help pages for Macintosh computer users!

Attached Files

"Files may be attached to an email message and sent to another person or persons"
Attaching files becomes an important task as one begins to use email more effectively. Attaching files is easy in some situations but requires a little more knowledge in "cross-platform" situations. Here we have the beginning of some "cross-platform" issues.
MacLink Plus comes with every new Macintosh computer and is a tremendous aid in this area. There is a quick tutorial on the use of MacLink Plus on this page.
Please see some beginning (primer) ideas on sending and receiving files, Sending Files Primer, to get started!

for America Online Users
Prevent File Transfer Pandemonium
Cross Platform Considerations
The Heartbreak of MIMI Attachments (MacWorld)
File Enclosures "Hands On"
Introduction (theory)
General Solutions
General Questions?
General Problems
General Solutions
Simple Mac Solution w/Eudora
Receiving a File (Document)
Sending a File (Document)
Simple Mac Solution w/America Online
MacLinks Plus - a tutorial


There are some basic problems in trying to send formatted material to someone by attaching a document to an email message. Email is a nice communication tool for ideas and thoughts. Email has many weakness when one tries to create an email message and make appear exactly the same on the receiver's computer that it does on the sender's computer (sending specifically formatted material to someone else). This is even a problem on the web where one should realize that not everyone sees things the way that the designer intends them but, hopefully, the appearance is close. It is hoped that the content is valued by the receiver. If one wants total control, that is what the hard copy printed material does best. (I hope this does not diminish an enthusiasm for email because email has many other advantages that the regular mail can't touch!)

There are two (or three) questions that the sender must ask before trying to send a formatted document to a receiver. These questions and answers to the questions can be communicated through email. The answers to the questions, and the willingness of the sender and receiver to deal with them, will determine the success of the transmission. (Many people just give up that this point - It is hoped that a reader here will forge ahead!)

If the sender does not ask the following questions and does nothing to assure a successful solution, it becomes required for the receiver to have enough computer knowledge to make the proper translations. It seems that it would be better for the sender to solve the problem rather than expect the receiver to do the necessary translation work. (Or at least work out the solutions together!)

Ideas for a General Solution

The sender must ask the receiver the following two (or three) questions.

  1. Question 1 (Format)
    What format of computer do you have?

  2. Question 2 (Applications)
    What program applications do you have on your computer?

  3. Question 3 (Fonts)
    (This question needs to be asked only if the sender wishes to use any fonts other than the standard fonts.)
    Do you have (font name) on your computer?

The answers to the to above questions will require some adjustments to the materials being sent as an attachment.

To understand that there are some problems is the beginning step to seeking a solution

Question 1 problems: (Format)

  1. If both the sender and receiver use Macs, the first problem is solved.
  2. If both the sender and receiver use PC's, the first problem may be solved (Remember, some PC users still use the antiquated DOS system and there is windows 3.1, 3.11, Windows 95, etc).
  3. If the sender and receiver do not match formats (one has a Mac and one has a PC) there are programs available to make these cross-platform translations and either the sender or receiver must be aware of them and must use them. (Don't send a PC file to a Mac user unless they know how to translate it or don't send a Mac file to a PC user unless they know how to translate it.)

Question 2 problems: (Applications)

  1. If the sender and receiver have the same computer format (Mac or PC) and the same application program is available on both computers (i.e. Clarisworks Version 4 or Microsoft Word Version 5), use that application for the attached file and there will be no problems.
  2. If the sender and receiver have the same computer (Mac or Windows) but not the same application program, this problem needs to be addressed.
  3. If the sender and the receiver have different computer formats and different application programs, there is a double problem to be solved.

Question 3 problems: (Fonts)

  1. The receiving computer will make automatic fonts substitutions (based upon certain computer rules) if the senders fonts are not available.
  2. The document will have a different appearance because of the font substitution.


Solutions lacking any quality!

  1. Solution 1 (the least quality solution but, alas, the one that is used by many people!)

    Give up and never send an attachment.

  2. Solution 2 (not lacking quality totally as is solution 1, but still filled with a certain naive attitude)

    Send the attached file and let the receiver do all the "work"!

Solutions with quality!

  1. Solutions to Question 1 (Format)

    If both sender and receiver use Macs - no solution necessary!

    If both sender and receiver use Windows (any form) - usually no solution necessary

    If either the sender or receiver uses DOS - I recommended to send a hard copy via regular mail and forget this system!

    If either the sender or receiver uses a Mac and the other one uses Windows - The easiest solution is for the Mac user to purchase and learn how to use a program called
    MacLink Plus (latest version is version 9.x) to make all the translations and save (or open) the document in the format of the other user. (Mac users are much more aware of this cross-platform translation than PC users.)

  2. Solutions for Question 2 (Applications)

    Always send a document saved in a program application that is available on the receiver's computer. (Please be aware of the version problem. Later versions can usually open previous versions but not the opposite!)

    1. Mac to Mac - send the document using a program application that is on the receiver's computer (do not use a later version of the program - more advanced versions can usually open documents from earlier versions but not the opposite). Save the document (in the save dialogue menu) with a version that the receiver can open on his/her computer.
    2. Windows to Windows - see the comments above!
    3. Windows to Mac - see the comments above. Use the same program application and do not save the document in a later version.
    4. Mac to Windows - see comments above.
    5. BEST - Common ground solution ("Official" Solution):

      Agree on a program application for official use. This "official" program application should be on all the sender's and receiver's computers. It may not be a personal program of choice, but remember one is trying to communicate, not win an argument about the merits and defects of a program application!!!

  3. Solution for Question 3 (Fonts)

    Use only the standard fonts (the ones that come with the computer) and proper translations and substitutions will be made on the receiving computer.

    If you wish to use some personal specialty font, that font must be sent to the receiver or the receiver's computer will make a font substitution that was not intended. Use true type fonts since they are mostly cross-platformed! (Bit-mapped and Postscript fonts are OK locally but not for this type of communication.)

    Microsoft has made some fonts available (for free download) to help in solving this problem. Check these out at Microsoft.

Simple Mac Solution w/Eudora

Expanding Compressed Files / Stuffit Expander is a necessity!

Compressing Files / Drop Stuff is a necessity!

Stuffit Expander is the single most necessary application to learn how to use when receiving files (and it's companion, Drop Stuff, is equally important for sending files).
  1. Find out if you have Stuffit Expander or Drop Stuff!
    If you have previously installed Stuffit Expander, there will be an "alias" of Stuffit Expander on your desktop. Notice this!!!!

    If you do not see this "alias" then,
    Use the command f keyboard shortcut,
    Type in Stuffit (or Drop Stuff)
    Click Find
    Locate Stuffit Expander Application Program and place an "alias" of this on your desktop

  2. If you do not have Stuffit Expander, Download it now and install it!
    Download Stuffit Expander
  3. While you are at it, if you plan to send files, also download Drop Stuff and install it!
    Download Drop Stuff with Stuffit Expander
  4. Be aware of Mac Links Plus for cross-platform or cross-application transfers.
    Related topics:
    Prevent File Transfer Pandemonium
    Cross Platform Considerations

Receiving a Document (File)

Sending a Document (File)


I hope this helps!

Computer users must "talk" to each other frequently (that is why email is so nice - it is fast and can be done with a minimum of fuss).
Find out what format (PC or Mac) computer your friends have and what program applications they have.

Understand that some people may have to upgrade their computer program application / operating systems to communicate effectively. (Windows 3.1 is not a very good OS anymore - Microsoft Word 4 should definitely be upgraded - Mac OS 8 sets new standards in the Mac world but System 7.5 still works well (System 6 is really yesterday stuff)

Set a standard for your work place and use that standard. IMHO Clarisworks is mostly a Mac program and is not a good standard for the cross-platform situations. Even though Microsoft products have been really "bloated" on the Mac and have not been very efficient, most of the world uses them and they probably make the best cross-platform standard!!! The standard is (should be) that which most people use!!!
Please notice that there is a new Macintosh / Microsoft partnership that is causing release of the Microsoft Office 98 for the Mac (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) in a "true Mac format" (even before the Windows version - this is not a Window program rewitten for the Mac). It will probably set a new standard of "cross-platform use" and since Claris is refocusing on "FileMaker Pro", and is even changing the company name to such, ClarisWorks will probably not be in the Mac future very long!! Mac users probably need to "move over to Microsoft" (painful - huh???).

Not everyone is going to buy the most recent versions of everything. The best "standard" is many times an earlier version of an application which may be installed on more computers (any version prior to Microsoft Word 5.1 needs to be upgraded - spend the money!!! - IMHO Microsoft Word 6 is nice but not necessary).
RECOMMENDATION: Save the files that you want to send in Word 5 format. It works WELL and any more exoticly formatted document should be sent via regular mail.

For data base operations, Microsoft Works (maybe ClarisWorks) is totally adequate for most needs, Microsoft Excel, in most situations, is probably overkill!


Mac users should become familiar with MacLink Plus and use it (it is also available for Windows users). It comes installed on all new Macintosh computers but needs to be upgraded once in a while for better translators. Familiarity with the potential of this translation aid and skillful use of it will help you to "exist in a Windows world"!!!!!

To Translate a file using MacLinks Plus:

If you don't already have, you should really have Stuffit Expander on your computer to expand files:
Download Stuffit Expander

Expand the file if necessary

If the file received is compressed, it needs to be decompressed with Stuffit Expander (NOTE: Stuffit Expander will expand any PC or Mac compressed file!)

  1. "Double-clicking" the received file will generally accomplish the expansion of the file. The expansion may be a two step process depending upon the encoding that the sender applied.
    A .hqx file will require two steps (Stuffit Expander will generally do this) while a .sit file will require just one expansion.
    The compressed files (the .hqx, .sit) can be "trashed" when they have been expanded.

  2. If "double-clicking" the received file does not work it is probably because Stuffit Expander was not installed properly. Use the installer again.

  3. One can always use the Macintosh Drag and Drop technic to initiate action by "Stuffit Expander". (i.e. Drag the received file on top of the icon for "Stuffit Expander" Application and the expansion should take place.)

Use MacLink Plus to translate the file

MacLink Plus is probably on your computer (since it comes with all new Macintosh computers). To make document translations you can try the following to translate the expanded file that you receive:

Method 1 - (simplest method but not always accurate)

  1. Double-click the file you wish to open
  2. If Mac Links Plus does not automaticall choose an application, you will be presented with some choices
  3. Click on the application that you wish to use
  4. Mac Links Plus will attempt to open the file in that application
  5. You may get a choice here of opening a Text file (just the basic text that was sent) or an actual document file.

    NOTE: You may get some "garbage" in the document depending on the degree of compatibility between the source application and the application with which you opened the document. Just delete the "garbage".

Method 2 - (a little harder but involves much more user control)

  1. Locate the "MacLink Plus" Folder on your Hard Drive
    (NOTE: Use command f and type in the MacLink to find possible locations.)

  2. Open the MacLink Plus Folder and locate Document Converter

  3. Make a duplicate of Document Converter
    (NOTE: Click once on "Document Converter" and use "command d" to make a copy)

  4. Move this Document Converter Copy to your desktop (and leave it there for further use)

  5. Double click Document Converter Copy to open MacLink Plus

  6. Select ClarisWks 4.0 with MacLink Plus Translation or any application that you wish to have as the "goal" of the format translation

  7. Notice that the name of this document will change.

  8. Locate the File that you received and

  9. Drag and Drop it on top of the to Clariswks 4.0 Document

  10. If any file that you receive is convertible to ClarisWorks, MacLink Plus will convert it by doing this. (Drag the received file on top of this to Clariswks 4.0 Document and the files will be translated if it is possible to do so. NOTE: I have several of these converters on my desktop so I can choose what kind of translation to make - to Microsoft Works, to Microsoft Word, to ClarisWorks, etc.)

  11. Follow the on-screen instructions from there

  12. You should get a file but there may be some "garbage" in it that can be deleted
    (The amount of "garbage" will depend upon the "stylization" used in the original file, a straight word processor file will translate nicely, more complicated files (extra fonts, tables, etc.) will not do as well)
Method 3 - (to extract text from a file you can't open on your computer because you don't have the application or your don't have a translator)
  1. Locate the "MacLink Plus" Folder on your Hard Drive
    (NOTE: Use command f and type in the MacLink to find possible locations.)

  2. Open the MacLink Plus Folder and locate DataViz FileView in version 9 or MacLinkPlus in version 10

  3. Select either of the above that is appropriate for your computer and version.

  4. Make an alias of this and place it on the desktop (My way).

  5. Any time you have a file that you can't identify, drag and drop it on top of this (above) alias of MacLinkPlus or FileView.

  6. In version 9, you will receive some information about the file and will see the text of the file extracted from the file (you can copy the text and paste it into a word processor document and work with the text of the file from there). This is a great aid in getting information from unknown files.

  7. In version 10, you will have to click and make a few choices but the same results (above) are possible.

  8. NOTE: The version 9 File View works so well for me that, even though I have updated my MacLinkPlus, I keep the version 9 File View on my computer and use it all the time.

I hope this helps! Dave Thomas

The location of the page is