Reading Kodak Photo CDs on Mac OSX

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I was cleaning up my office today when I came across some old Kodak PhotoCDs from the late-paleolithic era (circa 2001). I put them in my Mac Book Pro to see what was on them but was surprised when neither the OSX 10.5 Leopard system (QuickLook or nor Photoshop CS3 could open them.

That's odd, I could've sworn Photoshop could handle PhotoCD .pcd files. A little googling reveals that Adobe abandoned that feature when they ported CS3 over to Intel and never bothered to carry the functionality over. I guess they decided Kodak and PhotoCD were good and dead.

Hmm... well, there's always GraphicConverter, right? It's the one application that can read practically everything. I launched it up and it read and converted the files from .pcd to .jpg just fine -- except for the 4 Base and 16 Base sizes. The Base size (512 x 768) displayed correctly but 4 Base and 16 Base came out indecipherably.

It looked like a bug in GraphicConverter, so I dashed off a bug report to them. I then had a couple of options according to the Google:

  • Run Photoshop CS3 in Rosetta mode and use the old Kodak PhotoCD plugin
  • Get Irfanview for the PC and do the conversion in that program, which just happened to have a very good batch function

Since I had VMWare Fusion running anyway, I downloaded Irfanview, installed the PhotoCD plugin, and ran the batch conversion. All done, all finished and my photos from a bygone era are now safely re-digitized as JPEGs.

The moral of the story is -- archival file formats aren't. Be safe and secure, save your files in something standard like JPEG* that isn't going to go anywhere as it isn't tied to one vendor.

* We'll want to revisit this in 10 years and see if JPEG is still around, but I'm pretty sure they'll still be JPEG importers even in 2018. I'm not so sure about JPEG2000, PNG, and Adobe DNG though!

p.s. I'd post a pix here, but the photos are of my sister, brother-in-law, and nephew and I don't want to risk my sister's ire!


Thorsten Lemke of LemkeSoft (makers of Graphic Converter) wrote back to immediately regarding my bug report:

Bug in the pcd sdk.
Simply launch GraphicConverter under Rosetta.

Well, that's not a lot of help since Rosetta is being deprecated. Anyway, I'm glad that IrfanView could still read them.

You can install the Kodak Photo CD plugin for Photoshop. It should be in the Extras folder on your Photoshop installation disk.

The plugin wasn't ported to Intel with CS3 so it won't work that way....

I'm running 10.5.6 on a MacBook Pro 2.53 GHz Intel processor and iPhoto '08 was able to import the pics from my Pro Photo CD as full resolution jpg's. From iPhoto you can drag them to the folder of your choice and then open them in Photoshop CS4. Not my favorite way to do things but sometimes you have to resort to unfavorable ways of operating to get the job done with the tools you already have. Luckily I only have about 500 more CD's to import before I turn them into coasters. Thanks Kodak, you never seem to let me down because I know you will always build a proprietary product and abandon it down the road.

There is also a utility called Dragoman that is suppose to work well though I have never used it.


I found this: ThumpsPlus for Windows, downloaded the trial and was able to convert all three of my PhotoCD CD's to .tiff images. Just had to figure out how the set the app do read/convert the .pcd files in full resolution.

I realise this is a very old posting BUT this info. may be useful:

Libre Office (Open Source & Free) on a Mac will open a Kodak photo CD image - can be a big task one at a time & converting to jpeg but worth it if the photo is priceless

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This page contains a single entry by Karen Nakamura published on September 2, 2008 8:32 PM.

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