Macintosh file formats


This uses Apple's extended version of ASCII. When exported to non-mac machines, note that


Rich Text Format (Microsoft) files are text-only files containing formating information. Programs like Word can read and write files in this format. Convertors exist to convert RTF files to LaTeX or HTML.


An old format, used for Mac screen captures, etc. Files can be pasted into the Scrapbook.

It's a combination of bitmaps and vectors. The format has evolved to keep pace with the hardware.

One can save a custom color palette as part of a PICT2 file, but it isn't always exported or imported.

The PICS format can cope with sequences of PICT files - useful for animation.


Tagged Image File Format (Aldus/Microsoft). This format is widely supported on Macs and PCs. It's especially popular when scanning images in. It's a bitmap format so images don't scale up well. It's a flexible and extensible format, which leads to compatibility problems. There are 4 main groups of TIFF file types Sometimes a program will just have a 'color TIFF' option, not saying whether it's type P or type R TIFF. Also there are various types of compression that the TIFF format can accomodate, causing further confusion. Though the pictures aren't easily edited, the palette can be quite easily tweaked.


Encapsulated Postscript (Adobe). A low-res screen preview (in PICT1 or PICT2 on the Mac, TIFF on PCs) and a vector or bitmap body. EPS files can be scaled without pixelating, but they can't be edited. For storing bitmap information they're bulky, though the binary option helps and Postscript level 2 includes compression techniques. Postscript files are easily imported into documents on most platforms.

EPS5 files have 4 CMYK separations and a PICT1 preview.

Archive Formats

Once you have binhex you can get Stuffit Expander from the HENSA archive. This extracts files from the three most popular archive-based compression formats found on the Macintosh: StuffIt archives, Compact Pro archives and AppleLink packages.

Other Formats

Many programs have their own formats (Word, Pagemaker, etc). Some programs accept files in other program's formats, but the results aren't always perfect. Amonget the many other file formats used are

Conversion Software

On the Mac, programs like Adobe photoshop can be used to do converting. On the CUED teaching system (Unix) the netpbm suite of conversion programs can deal with TIFF and PICT files.