www.ImageMontage.com presents:
Images of the World Banner

Cross-platform compatible files - File Naming Issues

Many issue exist for cross-platform file and formats, we will not deal with all issues.

This site contains information on: moving files between computers, file names, graphics formats and windows suffixes.

It does not try to deal with all the issues only highlight some of the possible solutions. To deal with all the issue completely, you would need to discuss each applications on both Windows and Macintosh platforms and all versions.

File names

File names are dependent on the operating system used and disk format (ie. ISO-9660 CD-ROM, PC, MacOS) the file is saved on.

Macintosh file names compatibility:

Macintosh file names (on standard HFS and HFS+ volumes) cannot have more than 31 characters and you can not use a colon (:) in a Macintosh file or folder name. All other characters are possible.

A colon is used by the Macintosh file system do delimit the path of a file. For example, if you put a file on the desktop named "test" when using System 7 or later, the path name is "Macintosh HD:Desktop Folder:test".

This assumes the hard drive is named "Macintosh HD" so the "test" is located in a directory named "Desktop Folder" which is located at the root level of "Macintosh HD".

File names are NOT case sensitive. Sample.txt is the same as sample.txt.

NOTE: MacOS X will support longer file names, but for compatibility with older MacOS the above restrictions should be applied.

Windows 95 / 98 / NT / 2000 / XP file names compatibility

Under Windows 95 / 98 / NT / 2000 / XP you have two file names the short file name (to be compatible with Windows 3.1) and the long file name. Long file name can have spaces and is not limited to 8.3 characters. Windows long file names are limited to 63 characters, the total path can be much large 1024 characters.

p502 of "Programmers Guide to Microsoft Windows 95" says "The protected-mode FAT file system allows filenames of up to 256 characters...similar to the NT file system which allows filenames of up to 256 characters....Before using long filenames fo read file and directories on a volume you must determine the maximum lengths of filenames and paths by using Get Volume Information"

In MacOS X you can read and write Window FAT16 aqnd FAT32 filesystems. MacOS X 10.4 will read NTFS. This give you access to long files names with the ablity to read external Windows formated USB and Firewire harddrive directly.

In MacOS 8.1 PC Exchange V2.2 was the first version to support Windows Long file names on a Floppy diskette. Prior to that they were converted to 8.3 file names when read on a Macintosh.

NOTE: ISO-9660 Joliet extension to support Windows long file names is NOT supported by the MacOS currently. work arounds, FTP files from Windows machine, use Virtual PC, copy the files from the PC to MacOS.

Moving Windows long file names PC formatted diskettes to Macintosh requires File Exchange control panel in MacOS 8.5 or some type of network connection such as FTP. Only file names less than 31 characters can be transferred to the MacOS, extra characters will be truncated. The 31 characters include the usually hidden 4 character DOS Extension.

Windows ISO-9660 CD-ROM with Joliet (Windows 95, long file names) extension are not supported on the MacOS. The shorter 8.3 file names will be displayed on MacOS.

Windows 3.1 and DOS file names compatibility:

DOS file names cannot have more than eight characters and can contain only the letters A through Z, the numbers 0 through 9 and the following special characters:

underscore (_), dollar sign ($), tilde (~), exclamation point (!), number sign (#), percent sign (%), ampersand (&), hyphen (-), braces ({}), parenthesis (), at sign (@), apostrophe ('), and the grave accent (`).

Unix file names compatibility (including Mac OS X):

Don't use spaces, quotes, stars and other special characters. Generally people use underscores for spaces. And limit file names to A-Z, 0-9, -, and _ to be save.

File names are case sensitive. Sample.txt is a different file from sample.txt, note the Capital "S".

In general...

In general file names compatibility, depends on the type of media you are accessing, how you are connected locally or via network, and the format of the volume/partion on the media (FAT, FAT32, HFS, HFS+, ISO9660 etc).

Some volume now support Unicode file names instead of just an ascii character set.

For complete file name compatibility and keep file names to 8.3 and only A..Z, 0..9, _ and - and one period '.'. For file name compatibility and easy access for MacOS, Unix and Windows 95/98 NT/2000 keep the file names down to 31 characters and limit the characters to only A..Z, 0..9, underscore (_), dollar sign ($), tilde (~), exclamation point (!), number sign (#), hyphen (-), parenthesis (), and apostrophe (') with No spaces, and don't include any OS spacial characters list below:

Back to Top
Updated: 16 July 2006
Copyright © 1995-2006, All Rights Reserved By R. Mark Fleming.