MacOpener 2.0 is a one-trick pony

Sharing data between Macintoshes and PCs is a real pain in the disk drive. Apple, undoubtedly as a peace gesture, embeds DOS-to-Mac translation support into its OS, solving the problem for Mac users. DataViz says its MacOpener, Version 2.0, solves that cross-platform incompatibility for PC users, too.

It does, but just for a selected group of users. Why? Because MacOpener just translates a Macintosh file format into a PC file format. Although that lets you view the file's content, you cannot necessarily use it. What can you do if the same applications do not exist on both platforms? You'll need DataViz's $164 RRP Conversions Plus (which includes all of MacOpener's functionality) to translate and convert the contents.

Any hesitations I have with using MacOpener concern the File Navigator, a two-panel interface that DataViz used to maintain backward compatibility. It takes some getting used to. For example, it would be nice if you could drag and drop files on their destination directories or resize the panes to display more files and directories.

One significant improvement over Version 1.0 is MacOpener's new virtual Windows driver, which remains active in the background. Windows 95 users can now access Macintosh files from the Desktop, Explorer, or any file manager. The driver translates the information on the fly, so the application thinks it is a disk with DOS files, and you can access the Macintosh files when an application does not let you use the File Navigator. With prior releases of the product, you first had to launch MacOpener's File Navigator to view Macintosh files on a PC.

You'll still need the File Navigator to delete, rename, and format a disk. When I tried to format a Macintosh disk by clicking the right mouse button on the A: drive icon, the machine made the right noises but gave me a DOS-formatted disk.

Aside from that minor inconvenience, the program worked well. Translation took mere seconds and worked every time. I really liked MacOpener's handy Preview function, which let me view graphics and text files before I translated them. In addition, MacOpener nimbly handled both the traditional DOS file names and Windows 95's long file names; it's one of the very few translation applications that can. Windows 3.1 users will still see their Mac file names shortened to the DOS naming convention.

MacOpener gives you the option of copying files as binary or text. A third option, MacBinary, preserves the Macintosh's two-part data and resource file format, which copies the file back to a Macintosh after modifications. MacOpener's extension mapping utility automatically links Macintosh file types and the file's application to DOS extensions. When it encounters an unknown file type, it asks you to manually link the file type to an extension. It can automatically add the right file extension to a file (for example, .TXT for a text file) or maintain the original file name.

Although its low street price will attract attention, I recommend spending the extra money for Conversions Plus. If you move files from a Macintosh to a PC, it's only a matter of time until you need the conversion capability.

The Bottom Line: Good

MacOpener, Version 2.0

MacOpener is a Mac-to-PC-and-back-again utility that will copy, delete, rename, and view files.

Pros: Keeps long file names when transferring files from the Macintosh to Windows 95; works quickly.

Cons: Clunky interface; lacks conversion features.

Price: $120 RRP.

Platform: Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Windows NT.


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