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Mac email extension-less Word file to a Windows PC

4833 Views 4 Replies 2 Participants Last post by  onsiteone
I hear that Macs often do not use file extensions. I have a friend with a Mac who says she has tons of word docs that have no file extensions. She says that she emails these word docs all the time to her Windows PC friends and they have no problems opening them. But how is this possible since Windows requires a file extension to know what program to use (in this case MS Word) to open the file?

I received an extension-less word doc from this Mac friend as a test, and unsurprisingly I could not open it (I use a PC) - unless I renamed the file with the correct extension - in this case ".doc". What is going on here? How are her other Windows PC friends supposedly opening her extension-less word docs without issue?

Come to think of it - how is it that Macs can have extension-less Word files or other extension-less files and I haven't heard of this issue come up before? Surely Mac users have emailed extension-less files to unsuspecting windows users since the dawn of computers. Either all Mac users never email extenion-less files to Windows users, or I'm nuts. Anyone have any thoughts?
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Macs use extensions just like the rest, but in a different manner, called a resource fork (And I feel it is a lot better then an extension because it allows so much more to be done about the file, but that's a different topic for a different day.). All modern Mac programs do write an extension to the file, but 99% of the time they are hidden, just like you can do in Windows. It could be her friends automatically add the extension to the file, but have never said anything to her. Or it could be that they have a different version of Word then you do. If you have an older one, it will be picky. Also, how are you opening them, but double clicking, or using the in app Open command? If you are using the Open command, then yes, no extension is needed. If you right click and select open with, then no extension needed. Truth be told, the only time you need an extension is for the OS to know which app to try to open the file with when you double click the file's icon.
Thanks sinclair for your reply. I do appreciate it. Here is a bit of clarification:

- My friend uses a Mac (I believe a newer Mac within last few years)

- She claims that all her Word docs have no extensions (I believe she simply has extensions hidden). I believe that her Mac, as you mention, write file extensions.

- She emails me a Word doc from her Mac.

- I log into my gmail account online to view her email.

- Her email shows that it has an attachment (obviously), BUT the file extension is missing. I have not clicked on the attachment yet at this point. I am simply reading the file attachment info from the email.

- I receive file attachments from numerous other contacts quite often and Gmail ALWAYS shows the file extensions along with the filename - that is if the extension existed in the first place.

- Gmail also has the ability to directly open Word .doc and .docx files as well as Adobe .pdf, Excel .xls, xlsx, Powerpoint and other common documents directly in the browser, without having to download the file attachment first... as long as that file has an extension. The email attachment from the friend has none.

- So I save the extension-less word attachment from my friend to my desktop (Windows PC). My system is set to show all file extensions. No file extension appears for the downloaded file attachment.

- I rename the file attachment by adding a ".doc" extension on the end. And, I am able to open it up in MS Word no problem using Microsoft Office 2003 and v3. I can also upload this modified Word file back into my Gmail account and it opens up the file no problem within the browser.

- My Mac friend also directly emailed another contact of mine who uses Outlook as a test. This contact who uses Outlook also receives the Word file attachment, but without the extension. She double-clicks on the file attachment in Outlook to open it, and her computer (as expected) asks what program to use to open this "unknown" file format. Of course, the file can be renamed with the .doc extension, and only then will it open just fine in MS Word. This contact with Outlook has Office 2007 installed.

- My Mac friend has no problems opening her Word docs on her computer, of course.

- So at this point, it may seem that my Mac friend's email program is stripping the .doc extension from her Word attachments... because as you mentioned, her Word docs are most likely being saved with the .doc extension AT FIRST. Therefor anyone who then receives her Word docs via email gets the file without the extension. Problem identified, right?

- BUT, my Mac friend says she emailed this word doc to 9 of her Windows PC friends and that they have no problems opening her files. How is that possible? I'm assuming that all her Windows PC friends do NOT manually rename the attachments with the ".doc" extension everytime like how I did (as well as my Outlook contact). I don't think that her Windows PC friends even know how to rename files.

- My Mac friend and her Windows PC contacts, as well as my Outlook contact are all retired. They are 55+ in age. I am 32 and have been a computer tech for over 11 years.

Any thoughts on this case?
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Without asking them, there is really no way to know for sure how they are opening them. Because they are of the older generation, they may be saving them to their computer, then opening Word, then using the open command within Word, which does not require the extension. Or when asked to save it by their email program, they give it a name and add the .doc by themselves. The only way to know for sure is to ask them each.

Something your Mac friend can do is goto the Edit menu in Mail, select Attachments, then make sure that there is a check next to Always send Windows-friendly Attachments. This'll make sure that Mail doesn't strip the extension from the file name so that your problem should go away.
Hmm. Ok thanks for your reply. I will suggest that tip about Windows friendly attachments.
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