picttoppm - convert a Macintosh PICT file to a PPM






[-quickdraw] [-fontdir file]



This program is part of Netpbm(1)

picttoppm reads a PICT file (version 1 or 2) and outputs a PPM image.

PICT is an image format that was developed by Apple Computer in 1984 as the native format for Macintosh graphics. A PICT image is encoded in QuickDraw commands. The PICT format is a meta-format that can be used for both bitmap images and vector images. PICT is also known as ’Macintosh Picture’ format, or the QuickDraw Picture format.

PICT files are primarily used to exchange graphics between various Macintosh applications.

In MacOS X, PDF replaces PICT as the main graphics format.


-fontdir file
 Make the list of BDF fonts in file available for use by picttoppm when drawing text. See below for the format of the fontdir file. This is in addition to the built-in fonts and those in the file fontdir.

 Force any images in the PICT file to be output with at least their full resolution. A PICT file may indicate that a contained image is to be scaled down before output. This option forces images to retain their sizes and prevent information loss. This option disables all PICT operations except images.

 Do not skip the 512 byte header that is present on all PICT files. This is useful when you have PICT data that was not stored in the data fork of a PICT file.

 Execute only pure quickdraw operations. In particular, turn off the interpretation of special PostScript printer operations.

 Print a whole bunch of information about the PICT file and the conversion process that only picttoppm hackers really care about.


The PICT file format is a general drawing format. picttoppm does not recognize all the drawing commands, but it does fully implement all image commands and mostly implement line, rectangle, polgon and text drawing. It is useful for converting scanned images and some drawing conversion.

With -fullres, picttoppm ignores text drawing commands. Beginning in Netpbm 10.45 (December 2008), it issues a warning message when it omits text for this reason.

Memory is used very liberally with at least 6 bytes needed for every pixel. Large bitmap PICT files will likely run your computer out of memory.


Some of the information in a PICT file is text, with a number indicating the font in which the text is supposed to rendered. picttoppm has one built-in font, but you can add others by directing picttoppm to BDF font files, which you do with font directory files.

picttoppm automatically uses the file named fontdir in the current directory, if it exists. You may specify an additional font directory file with the -fontdir option.

Obviously the font definitions are strongly related to the Macintosh. You can find more font numbers and information about fonts in Macintosh documentation.


Each line in the file is either a comment or font information. A comment begins with #. The font information consists of 4 whitespace separated fields. The first is the font number, the second is the font size in pixels, the third is the font style and the fourth is the name of a BDF file containing the font. The BDF format is defined by the X Window System and is beyond the scope of this document.

The font number indicates the type face. Here is a list of known font numbers and their faces.

0 Chicago
1 application font
2 New York
3 Geneva
4 Monaco
5 Venice
6 London
7 Athens
8 San Franciso
9 Toronto
11 Cairo
12 Los Angeles
20 Times Roman
21 Helvetica
22 Courier
23 Symbol
24 Taliesin

The font style indicates a variation on the font. Multiple variations may apply to a font and the font style is the sum of the variation numbers which are:

1 Boldface
2 Italic
4 Underlined
8 Outlined
16 Shadow
32 Condensed
64 Extended


Inside Macintosh volumes 1 and 5, ppmtopict(1) , ppm(5)


Copyright 1993 George Phillips

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