Converting MacDraw Files

MacDrawDid a conversion job today for a client who had some files on old Mac floppy disks, he needed them useable on his PC. There were an assortment of old Word and Excel documents, along with a few MacDraw & MacDraw II files that needed migration. I was able to use my trusty PowerBook G3 Wallstreet (Mac OS 9.2.2) for the task.

Most people don’t need to manipulate their old drawings, just view and print them, so flat file formats tend to be fine. I typically create JPEG and TIFF files as the end product. The MacDraw Family knows nothing of these formats however, so some creativity is required.

MacDraw II can save documents as PICT files, the old Macintosh standard, in Black & White (1 bit) or Color (8 bit). These were all Black & White drawings, so I opened each file and saved to 1 bit PICT format.

Next I use one of my favorite Mac Graphic Swiss Army Knives, Adobe Photoshop, to do further conversions. The WallStreet has v5.5 installed. I open each file, then do a Save As… to TIFF format. A dialog asks whether I want Mac or PC byte ordering, with a checkbox for LZW compression. Defaults are Mac format with LZW On. I always use this, and the resulting files have always worked fine on modern Macs and PCs. Photoshop adds the .tif file extension to the name automatically, a nice touch.

In order to save a copy as JPEG, one further step is required. The PICT file was Black & White, but JPEG requires Color or Greyscale – the JPEG option is currently dimmed in the Save As… dialog. No problem for The Shop, I convert the document to greyscale mode, no visible difference at all, and now I can Save As… to JPEG.

In the end, of the 4 formats (MacDraw, PICT, TIFF and JPEG) the JPEGs are the largest sized files. How’s that for progress!

3 responses to “Converting MacDraw Files”

  1. Adam Rosen says:


    Dan Knight said…
    Did a similar project last week, but the client wanted to be able to edit the files and update them after all these years. The solution was EasyDraw – and for just $20 the client bought a 9-month license. Very reasonable price!
    August 23, 2009 at 5:41 AM

    Adam Rosen said…
    Dan, thanks for the tip. I didn’t know about EazyDraw, looks like it can import MacDraw and ClarisWorks/AppleWorks formats. Very helpful to know about.
    August 23, 2009 at 10:01 AM

    Yuhong Bao said…
    Yea, JPEG is overkill for a 1-bit drawing, I think. I’d use a 1-bit GIF instead.
    April 10, 2010 at 9:19 PM

    Yuhong Bao said…
    BTW, Snow Leopard still support PICTs, but since they are dependent on QuickDraw which has not been ported to 64-bit, most APIs that are used to access PICTs are not available to 64-bit apps, thus if you open one of them in the Snow Leopard version of Preview, you will be asked to run it in 32-bit mode. In fact, the few APIs like NSPICTImageRep that are available to 64-bit applications to access PICTs has to use a pictd 32-bit helper process to access them. Quick Look for example does this.
    June 11, 2010 at 3:27 AM

    Arlin said…
    EazyDraw worked great for my problem. I had several dozen MacDraw Pro files from 10 years ago. These were complicated scientific diagrams so I paid $20 to get the full version– the demo version will only convert and import up to 45 elements in your graphic. I had a few minor issues with text placement, but EazyDraw was well worth the cost for me.
    July 23, 2010 at 6:07 PM

    Anonymous said…
    The easiest way to import old MacDraw files in a new Mac or PC is to do a postscript print capture. Then you can edit them in Illustrator or any other program that can read postscript. If you don’t have a Mac that can run MacDraw use an emulator like sheepshaver, etc.
    August 19, 2011 at 12:30 PM

    Adam Rosen said…
    That’s an interesting tip. I’ve got a MacDraw conversion job coming up, will give that a try.
    August 19, 2011 at 12:37 PM

  2. Chris Bozung says:

    I have several files (approx 25-30) from MacDraw II from about 20 years ago, that I’d love converted for use on a PC – I would settle to simply be able to open & print them (although editing them would be icing on the cake). Either PDF or some other file is fine. If I were to either e-mail or snail mail the files, would someone be willing to do this for a fee?

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