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PostScript, the venerable page description language originating from Mac computers in the 80s has finally reached the end of its journey in macOS Sonoma.
In the Sonoma release notes, Apple made it clear that “the ability to convert PostScript and EPS files to PDF has been removed in macOS.”
“As a result, CGPSConverter CoreGraphics returns an error when called, ImageIO no longer converts EPS files, NSEPSImageRep does not render EPS files, and PMPrinterPrintWithFile does not accept a PostScript file for non-PostScript print queues,” he elaborates.
It's a bit of a sad footnote for the once revolutionary technology that ushered in the desktop publishing revolution in which Apple and Adobe were central players. But times have changed: PostScript inventor Charles Geschke died in 2021 at the age of 81.
Dr. John Warnock, who co-founded Adobe with Geschke, died in August 2023 at the age of 82.
For the most part, Adobe's own PDF document format has replaced PostScript, so this issue is unlikely to affect most people other than those who have archives of PostScript or EPS files.
The failure of PostScript on the Mac shouldn't come as a shock to anyone paying attention. The writing was on the wall for years as Apple phased out PostScript support in subsequent macOS releases.
This process began with the release of Catalina in 2019, when Apple dropped support for PostScript Type 1 fonts in favor of OpenType. Adobe itself has followed suit by removing support for Type 1 fonts in Photoshop in 2021.
This removal accelerated with the release of macOS Monterey 12.3, when Apple removed the ability to view PostScript files online. And in macOS Ventura, the Preview app removed support for PostScript conversion.
Removing PostScript from a Mac is a good defense, says Mac developer Dr. Howard Oakley. According to him, security researchers have discovered several serious vulnerabilities in common PostScript interpreters.
“PostScript is an old stack-based interpreted language developed at a time when code security was not yet conceived and malware was almost non-existent,” Oakley wrote in a recent blog post. “Among its attractive features is the fact that any PostScript object can be treated as data or executed as part of a program, and it can itself generate new objects, which in turn can be executed.
“More recently, security researchers have drawn attention to the fact that this is a gift for anyone who wants to write and distribute malicious code,” Oakley added. “Because it is effectively an image format, embedding malware in a PostScript file could allow it to run without user interaction. as is the case with some other graphic formats.”
Oakley noted that those who need access to PS and EPS files on their Mac still have several options, including the commercial Adobe Distiller application, Ghostscript from Artifex, or a virtual machine (VM) running macOS Monterey.