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TechNote #43: Last modified: 10/31/16

Transferring Documents Between Windows and macOS

The information in this document applies to:

MathType (Win & Mac)
Microsoft Equation (Win & Mac)
Adobe Acrobat (Win & Mac)
Adobe InDesign (Win & Mac)
Microsoft Word (Win & Mac)
Microsoft PowerPoint (Win & Mac)
PageMaker (Win & Mac)
QuarkXPress (Win & Mac)


Many customers want to transfer documents containing MathType equations to another platform, but find that their equations are not correctly converted. Typical problems include inappropriate characters are substituted, characters are missing, equations cannot be edited, equations appear as empty boxes, or equations disappear entirely.

If you are converting a document between Windows and Macintosh and also between two different applications, you should read this notice and our notice which discusses Converting Documents between Applications.

If you are experiencing problems sharing documents with someone who is using the same program on the same platform, please see our notice addressing Sharing Documents Containing MathType Equations.


macOS uses the PICT/PDF graphic file format. Windows uses the Windows Metafile Format (WMF). macOS does not support the WMF format and Windows does not support the PICT format. MathType for Macintosh, by default, creates PICTs. MathType for Windows, by default, creates WMFs. When you transfer a document containing embedded WMFs or PICTs to a different platform, many applications will attempt to convert the equations to the graphic file format supported by the operating system when opening the document. For complex graphics which include characters from fonts, such as MathType equations, the conversion is rarely completely successful.

This notice addresses the following issues:

1. Updating Equations which use Object Linking and Embedding (OLE)

2. Microsoft Word Users

3. Documents containing GIFs

Updating Equations which use Object Linking and Embedding (OLE)

If equations were embedded into a document by using Object Linking and Embedding (OLE), i.e., by using a toolbar button in a Microsoft Word or PowerPoint, using an "Insert Equation", "Insert Object", or "Insert OLE Object" command, or, via cut-and-paste, the equations are PICTs or WMFs. If the equations were created in MathType, saved as individual files, and inserted or placed into a document, they may be WMFs, PICTs, Encapsulated PostScript (EPS), or Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) files and did not use OLE.

It is necessary to use MathType to convert WMFs or PICTs on the receiving platform in order for them to appear correctly. 

If you are using an application other that Microsoft Word, it will be necessary to double-click each equation to open it in Microsoft Equation or MathType, choose Save or Update from the File, and close the window.

You can use MathType to update MathType equations or Equation Editor equations, but they will be converted to MathType equations. Microsoft Equation and CorelEquation cannot edit equations created by other equation editors.

Microsoft Word Users

We include an add-in for Microsoft Word with MathType which adds a commands to Microsoft Word for converting all the equations in a document in a single step. 

If you are using any of the following MathType/Word combinations you should run the Convert Equations command in the MathType menu of Word when opening a Windows document on Macintosh and vice-versa. This will convert/refresh all the equations to the proper metafile format on that platform.

  • MathType 5.x for Windows with Word 2002 (XP) or 2003
  • MathType 6.x for Windows with Word 2002 (XP), 2003, 2007, 2010, 2013, or 2016
  • MathType 6.x for Macintosh with Word 2011

If you are using MathType 6.x for Macintosh with Word 2008, there will be no command for Convert Equations. Thus you must open and resave each equation individually.

Documents Containing GIFs

If the equations have been saved separately as GIFs, or the document has been converted to HTML, which has the same effect, they should not need to be updated, as the Graphics Interchange Format is supported on both platforms. There is a substantial loss of formatting using HTML translators, so you should understand the inherent disadvantages before converting your documents to HTML.

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