MacDrive 98

Apple’s 1998 introduction of the Mac OS Extended Format (also known as HFS+) created a scramble among developers of disk utilities. They prepared upgrades to support the new format – that increases a drive’s effective capacity by reorganizing the way files are stored. Among vendors of disk-mounting utilities for Microsoft Windows, DataViz introduced HFS+-support in MacOpener 4.0 (£53; Reviews, February 1999). Now Media4 Productions has closed the gap by adding HFS+ support to MacDrive 98 3.0, the latest version of its disk-mounting software. Either program is an excellent choice if you want to use Mac media with a Windows PC. Except for adding HFS+ support, MacDrive 98 3.0 is identical to version 2.0. With it, you can use Macintosh disks on a Windows 95, 98, or NT 4.0 PC. The program handles floppies, Iomega Zip and Jaz cartridges, CDs, external hard-disks, or any other disks available in a PC version. You can read-&-write data to the disks as if they’re Windows media. With HFS+ support, the program can now handle media in the new disk-format, as well as the older HFS format. Forget it
The program remains an install-and-forget-it utility. Without using any special commands, you can access Mac disks from the Windows desktop – in Windows Explorer, and from Open-&-Save dialogue boxes in Windows applications. The only time you’ll even remember you’re working with Mac media, is when you see the apple that MacDrive 98 adds to disk icons. However, when you right-click, with the mouse, on the disk icon to bring up Windows’ contextual menu, the utility adds Macintosh-specific media options – such as the ability to format a disk for the Mac. Although it’s similar to MacOpener, MacDrive 98 offers a few extra utilities that its rival does not. For example, it can identify the creator and file types of Mac files – handy when you’re trying to update extension maps in Mac-disk-mounting software, in cross-platform networking software, or in Mac OS File Exchange. Another handy utility lets you copy Mac disks from your PC’s drives. On Media4’s Web site, you’ll find several other utilities that re-map special symbols between Mac and PC files, so they’ll appear correctly when you open a document. MacDrive 98 doesn’t work with Windows 3.1, but neither does MacOpener – which previously supported the older Windows version. DataViz dropped Windows 3.1 support in MacOpener 4.1, a recent update. MacOpener 4.1 is also included with DataViz’s £85 Conversions Plus 4.6 cross-platform file-translation utility.

OUR VERDICT

We prefer MacDrive to MacOpener. It has a few niceties that MacOpener does not, allowing you to map file-name extensions more easily, and providing the handy iconic reminder when you’re working with Mac media. Most people probably won’t use these extra features, but it’s nice to have them if you need them.

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