Opening exported Quicktime images in The Gimp


Error message from The Gimp when I tried to open an exported QuickTime pro image

QuickTime Pro is a strange little application; I’ve been using it for many years and it still manages to catch me out in quirky ways!

This afternoon I was attempting to capture frames from a presentation using QuickTime Pro and importing them into The Gimp to process them. In a nutshell, the steps were:

  1. Playing the movie to the frame I want to save a screenshot of
  2. Clicking Export on the File menu
  3. Selecting Movie to Picture from the Export drop down list
  4. Clicking Save

Unfortunately when I tried to open the resulting image in The Gimp, it gave me the above error message, which I thought was strange given was able to open it without any problems whatsoever.

It turns out the file type I was exporting wasn’t the same as I thought it was. Even though if you click the Options button in the Export dialog box and check that the type is indeed set to Photo – JPEG, the file you’re actually exporting is an Apple PICT file. Very weird.

The plot thickens though, because if you drop the .jpg extension from the image file and replace it with the default PICT .pct extension, The Gimp still can’t open it:

Error message from The Gimp when I tried to open a .pct image

If you append .pict instead though, it can.

Lesson learned (and it only took an hour!): if you export images from QuickTime Pro, append the .pict extension because that’s the file you’re actually saving it as. For Unix-like applications it also seems to be more compatible than .pct.

Icon from the Tango Desktop ProjectAs a final curious observation, ImageMagick from MacPorts, pkgsrc and from the FreeBSD Ports collection on my Armada M300 can convert images that end in both .pct and .pict that have been exported from QuickTime Pro.

I need a strong cup of coffee.

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person. Hi!

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