Converting Mac OS 9 .pict screenshot files to jpegs

The Shift+Cmd+4 key combo is common from all the way back to Mac OS 9 (and maybe earlier?) to all Mac OS X and current MacOS versions and takes a screenshot of a selected area on the screen. On current MacOS versions the file saved to your desktop is in png format (Mac OS X versions around 10.4 saved screenshots in .tiff format), but on OS 9 it’s in a less common .pict format.

By today’s standards the .pict file format is even more unusual as it uses Classic Mac OS file system features called a ‘resource fork‘ and a ‘data fork’. The issue with copying these .pict files from a Classic Mac OS filesystem to a modern file system is described here – when you copy the file you get the ‘resource fork’ but lose the ‘data fork’, in this case losing most of the image file data. When I tried this and viewed or converted the file on MacOS each of the files only has a section of the image, or none at all.

To convert to a jpeg or other more commonly used format today, this post suggests using the Resize! app, which is still downloadable from kstudio.net.

The trouble with this approach is if you’ve already copied the .pict files from OS 9 to a SMB network drive, you’ve already lost part of the file and it won’t convert as expected.

The best option as described in the first post is to convert to a jpeg or gif on OS 9 before moving elsewhere. I’ve seen posts suggesting to use Quicktime Viewer, but the version I have on mg G4 running OS 9.2.2 doesn’t have a Save As or Export feature, not that I could find anyway.

Instead what I found that worked for me was to download GraphicsConverter from Mac Garden here and use Save As changing the file extension to .jpg

Retro Battestation: just received my 2002 Power Mac G4 Quicksilver

I just picked up a pretty good eBay deal on a 2002 Power Mac G4 Quicksilver. It was sold as working, and yes it does boot up and it did come with OS X 10.4.11 installed as advertised.

 

Inside, it looks almost new. When I recently took some old PC towers to the electronics recycling inside they looked like they’d accumulated 100 years worth of dust and god knows what. By comparison, for a 15 year old machine, this looks like it was kept sealed in a box for most of that time – it’s spotless with no dust in sight.

Clean!

It looks like it has 10.4.11 cleanly installed, but I also picked up a used OS X 10.4 Tiger DVD to do a clean install myself.

The DVD drive in the machine does not want to open. It whirs and clicks when you hold F12, but no go. I used the paper clip¬†trick in the manual open hole on the front of the drive, it opens up and there’s nothing jammed in there, it just doesn’t want to open. I tried putting the DVD in there, manually closing the drive and then powering on, but it doesn’t spin up and read the disk.

By the way, on this Power Mac G4 Quicksilver, the DVD manual open hole is obscured by the front of the case, so the only way to get a paper clip in the hole is to physically remove the drive from the case to get access to the hole.

Given the issues with the DVD drive, I discovered that this machine will boot from a USB flash drive (there’s a discussion in this thread about all Intel Macs will boot from USB, but this feature apparently was supported on some G4 and G5 machines but apparently not all).

To install Mac OS 9 I copied the ISO from OS9Lives universal installer to a USB using Infrarecorder on a Windows 10 desktop, and holding down Option/Alt to get the boot menu, it shows the USB, and clicking on it starts to boot. I wasn’t sure about using the ‘Restore’ option on the OS9Lives universal installer, as it seems from the instructions that it wipes your partition.

 

 

Instead I’ve read in a few different forum posts if you just copy the ‘System Folder’ from an OS 9 image to the drive, along with ‘Applications’ (rename it ‘Applications (OS 9)’ if you’re dragging them to the same partition as OS X, if it’s a different partition then the name can stay as Applications).

 

Interesting that this just works – if you select the OS 9 System Folder as the Startup Disk in System Preferences, then when you reboot it just starts up.

To get a copy of the OS X 10.4 DVD onto a USB flash drive, I used Infrarecorder again to make an image, and then used ‘dd’ on my MacBook Pro to write the image to a flash drive.

I’m going to do a fresh install, but booting it up and looking around at what’s already on there, OS X 10.4 on a single PowerPC cpu machine, not a dual, and only 800Mhz with 512MB, performance is not bad, it’s pretty responsive. Both Tiger and OS 9 boot pretty quick (Tiger boots a few seconds faster which is surprising).

Quick observations:

  • Safari on OS X is terribly slow, practically unusable
  • Ten Four Fox on OS X is usable but sluggish on scrolling any page. Makes you appreciate how fast modern day machines are
  • Classilla on OS 9 is pretty snappy. Of the browsing options available, this is the better choice on this machine so far.

Next up I’ll be trying to boot from the image of the 10.4 DVD and doing a fresh install. More to come later.