Apple/Mac – Convert Picture Clipping ( pictclipping ) image to PNG, JPEG, etc

UPDATE 2011 March 8: A commenter reports dragging the pictcliped image into PowerPoint allows you save the image from there, possibly in other formats. I cannot test this as I do not have this setup. It appears however that the latest version of iTunes, at least, no longer creates these when copying album art out of the app.

UPDATE 2010 July 4: This process no longer works with 10.6 (.3 for me) as reported by readers. It seems that Apple found this feature and killed it. However there is a simple workaround.  See the section for 10.6.3

For versions of OSX up to 10.6:

So a little annoying feature of some Apple/Mac apps is the creation of a image in the format “pictclipping”. Converting these to something usable is not so intuitive so I am posting it here as to be easily located for myself if for nobody else (though I imagine others are looking for this from time to time).

Anyway, the easiest way to do this seems to be to use the clipboard and the “Preview” application.
To do the conversion in this way, first double click the pictclipping image to open it in the finder. Next from the Finder’s “Edit” menu choose “Copy”. Next, launch the “Preview” application and from the “File” menu choose “New from clipboard”. Then using the “File” “Save as” menu options, save as any image type you like.

Pretty simple, but not something I would have thought of right away.

For versions of OSX after 10.6:

Ok, so it seems Apple did not like the feature of being able to coy a Picture Clipping so easily, using their own software. I have tried to figure out a solution and did some searching but without some purchased software, so far, it seems this is not possible. However, here is something you can do to hold you over till something is discovered.

Right click on the Picture Clipping, in the Finder, choose “Quick Look [NAME OF YOUR PICTURE CLIPPING HERE]”  to view the full sized image in the Finder Quick Look previewer app. Then use the selective screenshot tool to grab just the image. If not familiar with this process: with the Picture Clipping image up, choose the [command] key at the same time as the [shift] key and then press the [4] key. This will bring up a small crossed lines (not sure how to explain it, think crosshairs for targeting something) pointer. Use this to hilight just the portion of the picture clipping in the preview that you wish to copy. When you release the pointer this image will be on the desktop as a PNG file with a name like “Screen shot 2010-07-04 at 5.16.53 AM”. Simply rename this file to something useful like “my-album-art.png” and you are done.

Hope something better appears. I will keep looking for something.


About Jayson
Father, mountain biker, Software development manager at a wire service, and also work with the IPTC (

42 Responses to Apple/Mac – Convert Picture Clipping ( pictclipping ) image to PNG, JPEG, etc

  1. Bodo says:

    Dear j
    thank you so much for describing the way how to turn the pictclipping into jpeg. you saved my day. bodo

  2. Kirsten says:

    You are not alone! I just had to do the same thing myself, so thanks so much for the solution!

    • Lazaro Jordan says:

      I tried your suggestion about clippingsticker and founded also very user-friendly and easy, thanks for the advice.

  3. Catherine says:

    Thanks a lot Jayson, simple but I would never thought to do it

  4. Andy says:

    There is no “preview” option under file and I have the newest mac. When I try to open it from applications, nothing comes up. Thanks for the info…but so much for mac’s lack of user-friendliness.

    • Jayson says:

      Andy, sorry if the post is a bit confusing, but I meant to launch the “Preview” application and then the “File” menu of the Preview application is where you choose “new from clipboard” and also to do the “save as” operation.

  5. Sharp says:

    Jayson is awesome. Saved me.

  6. Michael says:

    Hi, just want to add my thanks too. Pictclipping!?

  7. Elmi says:

    This is such a simple solution, but one I completely overlooked and nothing — NOTHING — else seems to work! So thanks, you saved my day.

    • Jayson says:

      Elmi and Michael, THANKS and glad it worked. I too am annoyed by this pictclip thing, and do not understand why they continue to use it when OSX all can do png for screenshots etc. I am sure they have a reason, but still …. ugh.


  8. mllekatie says:

    This worked for me a month ago – and now it seems my Clipboard isn’t holding the pictclipping file for Preview. When I do ‘New from Clipboard’ in Preview, a stock image comes up. What should I be doing differently?

  9. Nora says:

    Tenía el mismo problema de todos ustedes. Lo solucioné con un dato que aportó “nt”

    este enlace está en japonés, pero no necesitas saber el idioma, realmente es muy bueno, sólo se coloca la imagen y la extensión que necesitas y lo transforma altiro (de inmediato)

    SI en algo puedo ayudar, por favor envíenme un mail en español y gustosa les cooperaré, indicándoles cómo yo lo hice.

    Gracias a las personas que cooperan a solucionar nuestros problemas.


    • Jayson says:

      Anyway this helps is great, I agree. I have not tried the application that “nt” linked to in the comment so it is nice to hear that it works. I will be using this myself next time I need to do this conversion.

  10. noula says:

    I simply use the the capture options in Grab to select what I want in open picture clipping.

  11. Nora says:

    yo uso clippingsticker, es fabuloso y fácil de usar. Me costó mucho encontrar la solución para cambiar el formato de recorte clipping a jpg….

  12. Leo says:

    Thank you very much Jayson!

  13. Tonia says:

    Hey, thanks for this post! You saved me and made one little old lady very happy who just bought a new Mac and had been happily making picture clips for years and thought she’d lost them. So the “copy to clipboard” and past into Preview worked great!

    • Jayson says:

      Cool, glad it worked so well. On some versions of OS X it is not so easy. I have since left Mac and am back on Linux, so not sure about the new OS X that is coming but it was already becoming difficult with the last release. Seems Apple are not wanting people saving these images.

  14. e says:

    You can drag them into powerpoint and save them as images by right clicking on them.

  15. Alfred says:

    very helpful. thanks!

  16. Kjell Sjöberg says:

    Thanks a lot for information about pictClipping , i tried some program but this was just what we need

    Many Thanks from Sweden

    • Jayson says:

      Thanks for the note. Glad there is something on this page to help, either in the original post or the comments etc. There are now so many versions of OSX and each have their own way, or none in the case of the latest version, of making life difficult regarding album art.

  17. Thank you, thank you, thank you. This was very simple and easy to follow. I really wanted this image in my keynote speaker page and was absolutely stuck.

    • Jayson says:

      Glad that worked out well. Sorry not to reply sooner, was traveling, but I saw and was happy that you took time to comment.

  18. JH says:

    Hello! Found these instructions today while searching online. They worked great for pictclipping files that, when I opened them in Finder, had the label “Clipping contents: TIFF image” at bottom of the screen. However, I have other pictclipping images that, when I open them in Finder, read “Clipping Contents: rich text (RTF),” and I can’t see the image. For those images, I am not having any luck. Any way to work with these files? Thanks!

    • Jayson says:

      I saw reports (though I do not have 2008 to test with) that office 2008 has a bug that creates the wrong file extension when you highlight and drag text out of a doc, and onto the desktop or into the finder.

      It should create a file with extension:


      but it wrongly assigns:


      Your case seems to be the oposite. Try renaming those from .textClipping to .pictClipping (if they are indeed images and not text)

      Hope that helps

  19. Thank you! Now my logo is uploaded and life is good again.

  20. mantasahead says:

    OK maybe this was posted already, but here are the steps that worked for me on Lion:

    1.) change the .pictclipping extension to .png (without opening the file)
    2.) right click in the finder on the file, select “Quick Look.”
    3.) A box will come up, click in the top right hand button that says “Quick Look in Preview”
    4.) Command-C (Or I guess edit-copy)
    5.) Open “new file from clipboard” in preview.” This should open the file in an editable form.
    6.) save new file

  21. Sevde says:

    Thanks a lot for such a simple and useful explanation!

  22. Konrad says:

    Hi Jayson, many thanks for the great help some times as usual small things like the short cuts becomes very helpful in life . Thanks Konrad

  23. Enwhitenment says:

    PictClippings are insanely aggravating. Cross that: OSX and APPLE and their authoritarian BS are insanely aggravating. If anyone is considering getting one of their products, I strongly urge you to give them nothing except your loogies and a raised middle finger. Sure, it’s pretty and works fine most of the time, but incidents like this are exactly why Apple should be boycotted by all thinking, feeling people of the earth.

    I have 10.6.8 and as others will attest, NOTHING opens it. Photoshop CS5 is clueless. Illustrator & InDesign can accept one of these for embedding, but to export it you’ll need to format your doc, and with that process being what it is, you might as well be taking a screenshot of it like in the article. (Since that’s basically what you are doing if you go the Illustrator/InDesign route – they resample, etc.) I WANT THE ORIGINAL IMAGE, CONVERTED. And nothing even wants to open it. Except the spacebar preview in FINDER, which tells me that everything CAN theoretically open it, it just DOESN’T WANT TO BY DESIGN. Powerpoint 2011 (14.2.2.) crashes every time I try to drag the infernal file into it, fyi.

    Luckily for me, our office is cheap and hasn’t upgraded half of its machines, so I have <10.6 OSX handy. My question is this:

    WHY WOULD APPLE DO THIS?!?!?!?! Why did they decide to FORCEFULLY BLOCK access to these files in their OS? Why can Illustrator/InDesign accept these as input, but won't open it in Photoshop and pretends like it has no idea what this file is??! Call me an anti-Apple paranoiac if I am wrong, but to me it seems like they really went out of their way to neuter Joe User's ability to work with PictClippings in OSX 10.6 and beyond.

    • Jayson says:

      Feel your pain. Sometimes it just seems Apple don’t have the best interest of their users high on their list. Thanks for taking time to comment.

  24. Alex says:

    It seems like the feature for 10.5 and lower was brought back in 10.8 mountain lion. In mountain lion you can just follow the instructions for 10.5 and lower.


  25. Bianca says:

    Thank you so much for this great tip!!!!

  26. Jude says:

    I have 10.8.3 (why change what worked?)

    Anyway I found your instructions worked. I had a picture clipping, went to copy, opened preview, went to Preview, chose “new from clipboard” and it opened. I then saved as JPEG. What a rigmarole !!!! It used to be convertible from the pic clipping.

    There are many changes and features I do not like. For instance I also no longer have scroll arrows that don’t jump to the next page. When dealing with a 2000 page doc, the slide scrolls don’t cut it!

  27. You just saved my day. Thank you!

  28. FooBarish says:

    +1 for clippingsticker – works perfectly on Mountain Lion.

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