PICT is a graphics file format introduced on the original Apple Macintosh computer as its standard metafile format. It allows the interchange of graphics (both bitmapped and vector), and some limited text support, between Mac applications, and was the native graphics format of QuickDraw.

The PICT file format consists essentially of serialized QuickDraw opcodes. The original version, PICT 1, was designed to be as compact as possible while describing vector graphics. To this end, it featured single byte opcodes, many of which embodied operations such as "do the previous operation again". As such it was quite memory efficient, but not very expandable. With the introduction of the Macintosh II and Color QuickDraw, PICT was revised to version 2. This version featured 16-bit opcodes and numerous changes which enhanced its utility. PICT 1 opcodes were supported as a subset for backward compatibility.

Within a Mac application, any sequence of drawing operations could be simply recorded/encoded to the PICT format by opening a "Picture", then closing it after issuing the required commands. By saving the resulting byte stream as a resource, a PICT resource resulted, which could be loaded and played back at any time. The same stream could be saved to a data file on disk (with 512 bytes of unused header space added) as a PICT file.

With the change to Mac OS X and discontinuation of QuickDraw, PICT was dropped in favor of Portable Document Format (PDF) as the native metafile format, though PICT support is retained by many applications as it was so widely supported on Classic Mac OS.

This "PICT" image format supports single channel and color channel RGB images and grayscale images. Current versions of Photoshop, since about 2009, no longer have the ability to open or save files in PICT format.[1]

PICT versions

The PICT format has 2 different versions:[2]

  • PICT 1 format: The old format and only allowed 8 colors. It was intended to be used on Macs.
  • PICT 2 Format: This PICT file format, used on Macintosh computers, is object oriented. It not only includes colors, but also allows adding regions, lines.... Supports 4, 8, 16 and 24-bit black and white color. 32-bit (deprecated) is also supported.

Compression method

With QuickTime V2.0 (multimedia framework created by Apple), the PICT format file can be compressed using JPEG compression or any other QuickTime compressor.[3]


Further reading

Inside Macintosh: Imaging With QuickDraw. Apple Computer, Inc. 1994. Archived from the original on 11 March 2015. Retrieved 11 March 2015.

External links