Have you ever been in a situation where you have a file with an unrecognizable file
extension or format (perhaps from another compute platform)? Most often that problem
can be solved with GraphicConverter - a veritable "Swiss Army Knife" of
image conversion utilities. GraphicConverter is an all-purpose format conversion
and image-editing program that can import about 175 different graphic-based formats,
edit the image, and export it to one of 75 different output formats. The editing
tools are designed for graphic manipulation as well as the ability to use Photoshop-compatible
plug-ins. It offers batch conversion capabilities, a slide show window, web-based
album creation, and more. It is available for OS X as well as Classic Mac OS starting
with System 7.5.
GraphicConverter is shareware, with a shareware fee of $30 to download (or $35 for
the CD). Site licenses are also available. It includes a decent User Guide, and a
more extensive manual is available for download for an additional $10.
After downloading the installer for Mac OS X, the install process is simple - drag
the application to your Applications folder (or where ever you like). There are no
Library components or extensions to be installed.
GraphicConverter is at version 4.9.3 at the time of this review. According to Lemke
Software, once upgraded, you won't have to pay for another upgrade for the next 10
years. GraphicConverter is available in the German, English, French, Danish, Dutch,
Swedish, Norwegian, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Japanese and Portuguese localizations.
Key features of GraphicConverter
GraphicConverter imports about 175 graphic file formats and exports about 75
graphic file formats - more file formats than Photoshop. These formats include:
.D, 8BIM (old Photoshop 2.0 format), Acorn Sprite, AFP, ALIAS, AMBER ARR, ANI, ANPA,
Apple Preferred, ART, ASCII, BioRad, BLD, BMP, BUF, BUM, CAM, CALS, CEL, CGM, System
7 clip, CLP, CT, CVG, DCX, DESR VFF, DICoM, DJ1000, DL, Doodle, DPX, Dr. Halo, ElectronicImage,
EPS/EPSF*, ESM, FAX, FaxSTF, FireViewer PDB, FITS, FLH/FLI/FLC, FPX**, FUJI, GATAN,
GEM, GFX, GIF, GRP, HAM, HP-GL/2, ICo/ICN, IFF/LBM, Image ->Finder, ImageLab/PrintTechnic,
IMG/XIMG, IMQ, IPLab, ISS, j6i, JBI, JIF, JPEG/JFIF, Additional EXIF information
(from digital cameras) is supported, JPEG 2000***, KDC****, KISS CEL, Koala, KoNTRoN,
Lotus-PIC, LWF, MacPaint, MAG, MAYA-IFF, MBM, Meteosat 5, Moov, MSP, NGG/NCG, NIF,
NoL, oNCoR, Palette, PBM/PGM/PPM, PCD, PCX, PIC (32K), PIC, PICS, PICT, PICT resource,
PDB, PGraphicConverter/PGF, PM, PNG, PoRST, Ppat, PSD, QDV, QNT, QTIF, and more.
A complete list of supported formats is available on the GraphicConverter web site.
The most exotic format I ever used was DICOM - the Digital Imaging and Communications
in Medicine standard that was developed by ACR (American College of Radiology) and
NEMA (National Electrical Manufacturers Association) for use by manufacturers and
users of medical imaging equipment. For the most part I use GraphicConverter for
rather mundane conversions such as from TIFF to Photoshop or PNG to JPEG.
GraphicConverter still needs a helper application (such as Ghostscript, EPStoPICT,
macps2pdf, or UNIX gs) to open an EPS files. I'd like to see support for EPS vector
graphics built into GraphicConverter.
GraphicConverter includes a fairly capable File Browser that allows you to:
- Sort images (you
can drag and drop images between browsers)
- Navigate folders
- Create fast previews
- Create icons for
In many respects,
the File Browser is similar to the Apple's iPhoto "Organize" window.
GraphicConverter allows you to perform batch conversions that are capable of fast
conversions of complete folders of images file to a selected destination format.
- Apply batch function
like rotate, resize, etc., during the above process
- Delete resources
before uploading files to a web sever
- Create a catalog
in PICT or HTML format (the HTML version can be directly uploaded with a built-in
FTP tool, and you can define all options in the catalog like size, color, etc.)
- Rename the selected
files with various conditions
- Concatenate images
to create one large image (for example for QuickTime VR)
- Import and export
the IPTC information in or from image files
supports fast and easy slide show creations, with access by shortcuts or by mouse
or with the optional tool icons:
- Display of complete
folders with and without effects
- Renaming of files
- Moving of files to
predefined folders; this function is great for sorting images
- Deleting of files
- Creating of alias
for easy creation of optimized images for the Internet. The most often used image
file formats on the Internet are GIF, JPEG and PNG. GraphicConverter provides you
with additional helper dialogs during the save process. The "save as" dialog
helps you with the image creation with the following features:
- Support of the new
Apple Navigation Services
- Selection of the
file format by typing the extension
- Creation of web ready
files without resource fork - you can use this files directly for uploading or e-mail
- Optional creation
of LOWSRC files (16 grayscale preview files for the LOWSRC HTML tag)
- Option button to
access the options for the selected file format
display images after opening in the standard tool windows (you can change the default
tool windows in the preferences).
The different windows
associated to each image are:
- Tool window
- You can access the
basic functions like crop, lasso, draw, transparency and much more with the tool
- The overview window
displays the complete image as a small overview.
- The detail window
displays the region under the cursor in enlarged form.
- The information window
displays the technical details of the window. The EXIF details from digitals cameras
are available, too.
GraphicConverter offers a "standard" set of image manipulation filters
one would expect to find in an application of this type. All filter dialogs offer
a before and after preview area. These filters include:
- Levels and Auto Levels
- Change of color depth
and color table
- Gamma correction
- Color permutation,
functions are AppleScript-able. GraphicConverter supports special features of MacOS
8, 9, and OS X, and is optimized for G4 and G5. It supports long file names, proportional
scroll bars, transparent drag and drop between windows and finder, just to name a
GraphicConverter offers support for new image compression technologies such as LuraWave
(LWF). LWF is a wavelet-based image compression algorithm that was specifically designed
for image archiving. Data can be stored losslessly at compression rates of 1:3 to
1:5. The quality of the images far exceeds that of JPEG at comparable file sizes,
even at higher compression rates. A separately purchased plug-in is required to utilize
I view GraphicConverter as merge of two different utilities: a format conversion
tool, and an image manipulation tool. As a format conversion tool, GraphicConverter
is unbeatable. I would venture to say there is nothing on the marketplace that allows
one to read and output as many different graphics formats as GraphicConverter supports.
I use GraphicConverter to quickly view files, do batch conversions, quickly browse
through folders, sort, organize, and recall images.
As for image manipulation, it is a solid performer. When I need to edit the image
beyond the basic Levels/Auto Levels, Brightness/Contrast, and Unsharp Mask, I tend
to go to Photoshop Elements. However, if Elements 2.0 did not come "free"
with my scanner, I would be hard-pressed to shell out $99 for it (the asking price);
whereas, the $30 for GraphicConverter is a great deal (hard to justify the price
differential between the two).
There is only a single level of undo in GraphicConverter. If you want to undo more
than one step, you have no choice but to reload the last saved version of the picture
by selecting File->Revert. The current version will then be closed without saving.
A single undo is a serious limitation, especially if you are performing some complex
The stamp tool is a relatively new addition to GraphicConverter, and it works quite
differently than a similar capability in Photoshop Elements. In Photoshop Elements,
your clones will be applied as if you were working with a copy of the image that
has been displaced the distance of your first stroke after Alt-clicking. All subsequent
strokes (prior to another Alt-click) will fill in the copied image relative to that
first stroke. However, in GraphicConverter Alt-click remembers the image and applies
it to the subsequent clicks. Consequently, in GraphicConverter one needs to constantly
Alt-click to get the right image. Since it is only possible to undo the very last
click, it is very easy to make errors and be forced to revert to the last saved image.
The amount of features in GraphicConverter is overwhelming. You get a lot of bang
for your buck. This build-up of features of the years, however, has begun to overburden
the user interface with features and fine-tune options. It's becoming increasingly
harder to find one's way through its labyrinth of dialog windows and preference settings.
A casual user may be totally overwhelmed with all the options in GraphicConverter's
the user interface
has a dated look and feel. Long time users may prefer the consistency, but early
adopters of OS X may desire something more aqua-ish.
GraphicConverter provides powerful printing capabilities, through catalogs, books,
and formatted pages. For instance, one thing it does that iPhoto cannot do is make
it easy to define a specific printing size.
Lemke software offers great support for GraphicConverter, much better than many commercial
vendors. A minor issue cropped up while I was importing from my digital camera and
Thorsten Lemke responded personally to my email and suggested a workaround. Further,
GraphicConverter is regularly updated, with new features being added all the time.
As I gradually shifted to digital photography, the issue of catalog management became
a lot more important. When Apple came out with iPhoto, which shares a lot of similarities
with GraphicConverter, I started to use it since it seemed to offer a very simple
user interface, good integration with the digital camera and simple catalog management.
However, with iPhoto's limited ability to edit the image as well as its overly simplistic
catalog manager, it began to fall short of my needs. GraphicConverter fills these
needs, and more. For image editing, GraphicConverter is much faster to launch than
Photoshop and seems to be more responsive in memory constrained hardware configurations.
There is a steep learning curve associated with its user interface and vast number
of features, but there is a separately priced and rather extensive GraphicConverter
manual available that helps.
GraphicConverter is an excellent tool for working with different image formats, supporting
just about every graphics format imaginable. It offers good batch processing features
that speed up work on multiple images and good integration with internet. The image
editing features are not as powerful as that of Photoshop Elements, but for all the
features that are included in GraphicConverter, GraphicConverter gives you the best
value. The bottom line is that GraphicConverter is a great image utility that keeps
getting better and better. It has been a part of my basic tools ever since I started
tinkering with the Macs going back to my first Mac II. It offers an unbeatable value
in terms of available functions for the price.
- Excellent file browser
with well integrated email and the ability to make albums
- Ability to create
HTML web pages and upload the whole web site to the server
- Good image editor
with basic filters, effects, and graphic tools
- Powerful printing
- Unbeatable image
- Good batch processor
- Excellent viewer
with countless slideshow options
- Great support
- Dated user interface
- No built-in support
for EPS handling
- Single level of undo
- Cumbersome stamp
4 out of 5 Mice