HomeChangeConverting/transferring files from Windows to Mac (MS Publisher to iWork Pages, etc.)

For all intents and purposes, iWork Pages is the equivalent of MS Publisher on the Mac. But better yet, most print shops do not like working with Publisher files. A Mac runs UNIX “under the hood” (Postscript printing) there is generally better use of this technology in the printing industry.

Every application has it’s native file format and Pages is not different. That means iWork Page will NOT read MS Publisher files directly, but to transfer a file from one applications to another requires a filter that can convert a native application file format into a different file format, and Apple has not decided to write this MS Publisher .pub filter.

Hint: Migrating all of your Windows files to your Mac may require extra steps than the perceived “one button push” to get them all over. In nearly ALL cases it is the FILE FORMAT that will determine the ease or difficulty to moving and transferring those files.

Entrepreneurs that move from Windows to Mac usually have MS Office files to deal with, and to a lesser degree, MS Publisher files. MS Office files cross over with little to no problems, but with MS Publisher, that’s a different thing altogether. There is no easy way, until now.

My wife is in real estate and she has some old files that are in MS Publisher’s .pub file format. Of course, she turns to me to see what can be done.

After much research I found a cool web site, Zamzar.com, that helps out (it’s currently in beta) by converting files into various other formats, a LOT of file formats.

WARNING: Converting files into various formats will transfer most if not all of your info, text, and formatting, but at the very least you’ll lose some of the formatting of the file, at the worst, you’ve lost some of your data and may not recover much of it directly. But, there may be workarounds.

As with any file format issue, there are six processes that come into play, starting from the best to the worst:

  1. Direct file conversion: For example, a file that was created in iWork Pages or MS Word uses the “Save As…” menu or  “Export” function using a programmed filter to convert the file into another format with few, if any, problems. However, the more complex the document, the more chances there are of having translation issues. Simple letters or other documents should not create any troubles. MS Publisher .pub file > MS Word .doc file
  2. File translation: While most programs such as iWork Pages and MS Word have these “Save As…” filters built in that will translate file formats, Zamzar.com does a whole lot more translations. MS Publisher .pub file > Zamzar.com > another application.
  3. Work arounds: Here’s my answer for my wife’s situation. I used MS Publisher’s “Save As…” to convert the .pub file to a MS Word .doc to open up that file in iWork Pages. But the file did not come through well enough and there are some problems. So grabbing the FREE office suite NeoOffice (and it’s twin OpenOffice.org) I was able to accomplish my task. I opened the translated Word .doc file in NeoOffice and cut and paste what was needed into the new Pages file. In my wife’s case, it was mostly graphics that there was a problem. MS Publisher .pub file > NeoOffice .doc file > cut and paste content into an iWork Pages file.
  4. Scan and recover: Sometimes scanners have Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software that can scan a page and convert it. Just run the text through a spell checker if the document is a long one.
  5. Redo by hand: If you have a printed copy you can at least retype your document into your program, if you have one somewhere.
  6. Start from scratch: Here you begin again with a blank screen.

In my case, getting a MS Publisher file into iWork Pages I:

  1. Download NeoOffice (or Open Office ) for the Mac for free or have a copy of MS Office.
  2. Translated the MS Publisher file into a .doc format using Zamzar.com (It’s in Beta, so I don’t know how long it will be free).
  3. Open the translated file in MS Office or the free NeoOffice or  Open Office  Writer program in order to access the elements, such as graphics, that do not come through the conversion process well.
  4. Cut and pasted the elements into Pages, both text and graphics. Text was easy as a menu choice Edit > Select  All… and copy and pasted the text into Pages as Edit > Paste and Match Style. Graphics were a little more manual.

With a little luck I was able to recreate my wife’s file so she can continue her business. It may have taken some effort, but from here we can make many changes in the iWork Pages page layout part. It’s not a “one step” solution, but it beats having to redo completely her file.

What are your thoughts?


Converting/transferring files from Windows to Mac (MS Publisher to iWork Pages, etc.) — 5 Comments

  1. Hi, I know you wrote this a while ago so maybe you have some additional info now. I too have Publisher files (menu, newsletter, business cards) that are useless to me with my new Mac. I understand that Pages is a good substitute, but what I really need it to do is be able to take text and stretch it to the size box I put it in so that I can easily place text to the size and space I need it. Without it I have been struggling with something simple like a new business card, let alone using my Publisher files that would take way too long to redo. I know you mentioned iWork, but I am not familiar with it as I use Word for Mac.

    • Hi Marilyn,

      The info in my blog post still applies, however we can modify the info to fit your comments.

      First, let go of the negativity, your files are NOT useless. A file is useless if you’re having to start from scratch recreating a file, as I mentioned in #6 above.

      Second, “stretching text” may not look “professional,” so I’d rethink that part, but it still can be done in iWork Pages.

      Third, if you need to stretch your text then start by creating a graphic of your text, i.e. using Utilities > Grab to create a graphic of your text and then insert the graphic in your iWork Pages document. Next, click on the graphic and go to Inspector > Metrics and deselect “Constrain proportions” and you can resize your text graphic to the exact size you need.

      This is a simple way, but it will get you started ssssttrrrreetttccching your text. 🙂

      Thanks for posting, hope this helps.

    • Hi Marilyn, I suggest opening the files at a library that has Publisher on its computers, and saving pdf files. Then pull out the graphic elements that you’ll need and paste into a Word file which you’ll be able to access on your Mac. Word can be used similarly to publisher with some patience. Word allows you to make text boxes for instance. I am happy to help if you’d like to contact me. Betsydesmond@gmail.com

  2. Can you tell me my best option for receiving book from publisher to be proofread by me, then I transport it back to publisher. I have a macbook pro. thank you

    • Hi Gloria,

      I don’t monitor this site as much as I should, so sorry for the delay.

      I use Createspace.com and you can request a proof copy of your book before you go “live” and have it published. You can also, like I do, upload a newer version of your book (which takes the book “offline” to prevent customer ordering), and then order a new proof copy. I have done this multiple of times as I find mistakes and update my content.



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