Old Files on a New Mac
Manuel Mejia Jr - 2001.05.25
Q. My 68K Mac (anything from a Plus to a Quadra) running System 7 has reached a well earned retirement age. I am going to upgrade to a new iMac. However, I have a great number of old documents, images, databases, and spreadsheets that I need to keep and transfer to the new Mac. How do I do this?
A. You have many years worth of images, documents, and other important data on an old Mac that needs to be transferred to a new Mac. Much effort has been made by Mac software creators to make this process as painless as possible. Many word processors, like Microsoft Word and Corel WordPerfect, have no trouble reading older versions of document and saving them in a current form. It is possible that you may lose items like indents and pagination on some documents during the transformation. This is usually not an issue - you can put them back into the document.
If you are working with some ancient and esoteric word processor, like Microsoft Works 2.0, you may want to make the conversion easier by first converting the file to ".txt" format or a "Rich Text Format" (RTF). Both are universally read. RTF is preferred, since it preserves features such as paragraphs and indents.
Images present a more difficult challenge. Images are often save in a format unique to the graphic program. It is advisable to convert any and all images to a PICT 2, GIF, TIFF, or JPEG format. PICT 2 stores images for Macs in color form, while TIFFs are the form images take when they are scanned. GIF and JPEG are standard formats used on the Web.
Databases and spreadsheets seem to give the most trouble to those upgrading to a new system. A few years back, BYTE magazine published their solution to the long term storage problem that seems to be inherent to spreadsheets and database - print the information out and make a book from the paper! This sounds to be a bit drastic. One can get software like DataViz's MacLink Plus. This program converts all forms of computer documents from one version to another. Using Version 7, I once converted a .pdf file into a Works 2.0 file. The program also does spreadsheets and databases.
There is one recommendation I would give to anyone trying to move files from an old Mac to a new Mac - be sure to use high density floppy disks. The USB floppy drives that work with today's Macs do not read the old 800K double density floppy disks. LocalTalk is not an option either, since iMacs don't have LocalTalk ports. One can use ethernet if the equipment is set up for it. Since ethernet is not the most common feature on a 68K Mac, using the floppy drive and high density floppies is the most practical option.
Manuel Mejia Jr is familiar with Mac IIs, LCs, and older PowerBooks. He uses his Mac LC, PowerBook 145B, and PB 100 with System 7.1 on a regular basis and recently added a Mac Plus running System 6 to his collection. He's quite familiar with both System 6 and System 7. He also owns the Pina books on repairing compact Macs from 128k through the SE. You can read more about Manuel's computers in Manuel Mejia Jr's Four Old Macs.
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