What Is a PCT File?

Most PCT and PICT files are images, but yours might be a chemical data file

What to Know

  • A PCT or PICT file is an image saved in the Macintosh PICT format.
  • Lots of graphics programs can open one, including XnView and Photoshop.
  • Convert one to PNG, JPG, etc., with those same programs.

This article describes two file formats that use the PCT file extension, including how they're used and how to open or convert one on your computer.

What Is a PCT File?

A file with the PCT file extension is a Macintosh PICT image, and was the default file format for the (now discontinued) QuickDraw Mac program. Some applications still use the format, but PDF has all but replaced it.

The image data in one of these picture files might be in the original PICT 1 format or the PICT 2 format introduced in Color QuickDraw. The first can store eight colors, while the second and newer format supports thousands of colors.

Depending on the application that created it, the image with use either the PCT or the PICT file extension, but both are in the same format.

PCT files that open with Photoshop

If it's not an image that you have, your PCT file could instead be a pure compound text file used by ChemSep.

PCT is the initialism for a variety of tech terms, but none of them are related to this file format. Some examples include projected capacitive touchscreen, program coding tools, private communication technology, and parallel cellular tool.

How to Open a PCT File

While the QuickDraw program is discontinued, PCT files of both formats can be opened with several popular photo and graphics tools, some which you may already own or have installed.

For example, pretty much every Adobe tool can get the job done, including Photoshop, Illustrator, and After Effects.

If you're using Photoshop, you might need to use the File > Import > Video Frames to Layers menu item.

In addition, apps like XnView, GIMP, Corel PaintShop Pro, Apple Preview, and probably most other popular graphics tools, also include support for the PICT 1 and PICT 2 formats.

However, we recommend converting the file to a format that's more popular and usable in modern image editors and viewers. That way, you can share it with others and be confident they'll be able to open or edit it. You can read more about conversions in that section below.

Use ChemSep to open the PCT file if it's a chemical data file; use the Edit menu in PCDmanager (check out this ChemSep PDF tutorial on PCDmanager if you need help). A text editor might work, too.

If you find that a program on your PC is the default program that opens PCT or PICT files when you double-click on them, but you'd rather it be a different program, you can change the default program that opens them in Windows.

How to Convert a PCT File

The easiest way to convert a PCT file to another image format is to use XnView. You can do this from the File > Save As or File > Export menu to convert to any number of other, more common, image formats.

You might also have luck using one of the other openers linked above. Photoshop, for example, can save it to PNG, JPG, and several others.

PCT to PNG conversion with Photoshop

Another option is to upload the file to Online-Convert.com. That website gives you the option to save to formats like BMP and GIF. Being an online tool, this method works equally well on any operating system, whether it be Mac, Windows, Linux, etc.

ChemSep is the program you need if conversions are even possible for that file type (we're not sure).

Still Can't Open It?

If your file doesn't open even after trying all those suggestions above, check the file extension one more time. You might be confusing another format for the ones talked about on this page, which is easy to do considering how similar some file extensions are.

For example, maybe you really have a PCD file, which could be a Kodak image or, confusingly, a ChemSep file. Check out that link if your file actually ends in that file extension.

POT and POTX are similar examples. These are most likely MS PowerPoint templates, meaning they aren't at all related to a picture format.

Finally, there are PTC files that are used as a color swatches by PANTONE Color Manager. You can see how similar that suffix is to PCT, despite the formats having nothing in common.

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