EPS files on Mac

It used to be possible to view .eps files in Mac Preview. This was very convenient for viewing a quick image. In Sonoma, that ability was removed to avoid previewing malware.

Ok. But now I need a tool to open .eps files. Preferably a free or cheap one. I know Adobe Illustrator can do it, but that’s not cheap.

What didn’t work

Here’s what I tried that didn’t work

  • GIMP – showed the image with poor resolution for a few seconds than crashed. The. second time, it crashed right away. I tried redownloading and now Gimp says it can’t interpret file.
  • Skim – Didn’t open EPS files
  • Open office – shows just a box, not the image
  • Inkscape – ignores the request to open the file

What did work

I then abandoned trying to actually open the EPS file since I don’ edit them. There was some about converting to PDF. But images preview better. So I went with converting to png.

I found a Stack Overflow post suggesting using ghostscript. I was able to run a one liner and get all of them as .png. Now I can preview again!

find . -type f -name '*.eps' -exec gs -dSAFER -dBATCH -dNOPAUSE -dEPSCrop -sDEVICE=png16m -r600 "-sOutputFile={}.png" {} \;  

Editing eps files on a Mac

Scott and I need to edit some .eps files. Scott has Adobe Illustrator. I do not. Adobe no longer sells Illustrator. Instead Adobe offers a subscription for $21/month. They also offer a free trial. Given that I edit documents infrequently, I don’t want to pay for a subscription. (It cost over $200 before they switched to a subscription which is also more than I want to pay for my infrequent access.) For a while, Scott was editing all the documents to get around this problem.

Viewing eps files

This is easy. Viewing eps files works in Mac Preview

Creating/editing eps files

Inkscape allows creating/editing eps files (and svg files and other formats.) It works on most operating systems.

Here’s how I installed it on my Mac. (I donated money to Inkscape. But not $20 a month!)

  1. Install XQuartz
  2. Install Inkscape
  3. Log out and log back into Mac

Using Inkscape to create a file

The basic tutorial on the tutorials page gave me everything I needed to get started. It took a little time to get used to zoom mode being enabled when I wasn’t expecting it and selecting elements. But I was quickly able to create my image and exporting it to an eps file.

Using Inkscape to open a file

Inkscape gives an error when trying to open a file:

Failed to load the requested file xxx.eps

Luckily, there is an easy workaround. Macs can open an eps file in preview mode. You can save that to PDF and then open the PDF in Inkscape. I was able to edit the shapes and text from the imported PDF. Thank you to this blog post for the tip!