What types of files can I change from Mac- to Windows-based file types? What types "just work" on both systems? What types are simply non-transferable or won't work when moved between the OS types?

In particular, I am interested in these three file types: .ess, .app, and .bak.

  • please edit as needed didn't know where to put this
    – Bored915
    Mar 12, 2012 at 23:41
  • 6
    What exactly are you trying to do? What is the next step you will take with this knowledge. Some specifics will make this answerable and useful to the site as well as to you.
    – bmike
    Mar 12, 2012 at 23:51
  • well i have a lot of files for that i need moved inside of a .app file that should be able to run on a mac that now some how i have to figure out to get to work on a windows comp since i'm working on them from home without a mac
    – Bored915
    Mar 12, 2012 at 23:53
  • Thanks everyone for the help and my boss decieded not to fire me so thanks again to everyone who helped
    – Bored915
    Mar 14, 2012 at 1:08

2 Answers 2


Your question is very general so here is a general answer:

Document files are all dependant on the software for compatibility, not the operating system. So files like .doc .docx .pdf .txt .rtf etc are all compatible with Windows and Mac. This is the same for files like Photoshop files or Powerpoint files.

Video files are dependent on the codecs installed on the machine; both Windows and Mac have almost the same codecs installed by default. To view .mov files on a Windows machine you need Quicktime installed. .mp4 or .mpeg files will all work natively.

Image files will all work on both systems. eg .jpeg/.jpg, .tiff/.tif, .gif, .png, etc.

Applications are NOT inter-compatible. You cannot run a .app file on Windows, and you can't run a .exe on a Mac (except in a Windows VM or possibly Wine).

As a general rule of thumb, if you have a file that needs software to open (eg a Keynote presentation) then you would need the same software to open it on the other Operating system (in this case, Windows). Since Keynote is a Mac only product, you won't be able to open it on a Windows machine. In some of these cases, it could be possible to convert the file so it is openable by Windows software; in this case, you'd export the Keynote as a PowerPoint file for use on Windows.

  • 1
    +1, with the caveat that one can run .exe files if a Windows VM is running in OS X
    – JW8
    Mar 13, 2012 at 0:03
  • @jw01 but that still has to be running within the windows VM yes? ie. You cant take the .exe and run it within OSX
    – OrangeBox
    Mar 13, 2012 at 0:06
  • ha, that's true.
    – JW8
    Mar 13, 2012 at 0:18
  • +1, and one more caveat: The Unarchiver (and possibly other programs as well) on Mac OS X have the ability to open Windows .exe self-extracting archives. (Haven't tried it myself; YMMV)
    – Roy Tinker
    Mar 13, 2012 at 3:06
  • @roytinker good point :) though just to clear any confusion if anyone comes across your comment: .exe's are like .app's in that they are actually packages. So yes, you can open an exe and view its contents, but you cant run the exe. Just like you can use winRAR on Windows to open .apps, you still cant run them in Windows
    – OrangeBox
    Mar 13, 2012 at 5:23

Files are files.

What matters is can the Windows app of your choice make sense of specific files your Mac has created. (Unless I misunderstand what direction you are creating and then sending the files.)

Text encodings and things like that are all standard, and even binary files are well established. A Mac knows if a file is a Windows executable and hands them off to whatever program on the Mac can run them (such as VMware or Parallels virtual machines). The only files that are "Mac" or "Windows" are the executable programs - and even then, on a Mac an application is really a folder of files structured in a specific layout and you can read many of the resources and auxiliary files with no translation needed on a PC.

  • well im a new intern and not well experienced in macs but i do know a decent bit on windows. is their i file for windows that could easily run a cash of info passed to it like a runner
    – Bored915
    Mar 12, 2012 at 23:57
  • or more specifically access it so as to run from it
    – Bored915
    Mar 12, 2012 at 23:58

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