The infinite Story: Suffixes and the macOS
[November 19, 2018] Problems caused by the operating system when opening, saving or linking a file still affect the everyday life of many users. In addition to the usual wrong access rights, there are also OS historical reasons for “irregularities” that one should be aware of in order to be able to take targeted action against them.
The old Mac operating systems up to 9.x (Classic) knew (almost) only one way how to assign existing files to a creation or editing program: the typical Mac resources “Type & Creator”, which were located in the Mac files. Type & Creator made double-clicking possible. In this way, the Mac could distinguish EPS files from FreeHand, Illustrator, Photoshop or XPress, for example.
If the program provider changed the creator with every version, for example Macromedia for Freehand, even program versions were assignable to the generation version. Under Windows, however, only one program could be assigned to the EPS file type, a big criticism for the use of prepress programs in the other operating system world ...
For compatibility reasons, the Mac - according to my information from System 6 - could sometimes also read and use the suffixes from Windows and, for example, assign a .doc file from the Windows world to Word.
But one should not only consider the operating systems, but also the programs: Most apps could and still can recognize their own files independent of type and creator or suffix - like XPress. They use the “Magic Numbers” (identification at the beginning of the data stream of a file).
With the Unix-based macOS X, the Apple operating system has now also had the “Magic Numbers” for file recognition available for years - so there are now suffixes, “Magic Numbers” and only very limited Type & Creator. Since XPress 10, XPress only creates files that no longer contain Type & Creator, but always with a suffix. If you fight against the suffix at the file name with QuarkXPress, you will lose ... The suffix belongs to it, whether visible or hidden!
Two “identically named” files in one folder?!
So how does macOS deal with the suffixes? The visibility of the suffixes can be switched on and off at the Finder level. Whether on or off: It is always the same file name. So no two files with this name can be in the same folder.
The situation is different if a file does not have a suffix. Then it is definitely a different file name, which is only displayed externally in the same way. Now a file with hidden suffix and a file without suffix with the same name root can be saved in the same folder.
with visible suffix
with hidden Suffix
without suffix - no hiding possible
In the folder this can look like the following with two “identical” files:
Whether an icon or no icon is displayed for files without suffix depends on whether macOS can read and assign the “Magic Numbers” for this file type, although no suffix is attached: For PNG files, for example, depending on the creation program, it happens more often that no icon is displayed for non-existent suffixes.
Should something be done?
As announced 15 years ago: Apple restricts the use of files without suffix more and more, the scope to work successfully with old-named files on the Mac is getting smaller and smaller. You should definitely check your old database of layout and image files in the near future, and if you don't want to add the suffix to each file manually, look for solutions. Tools and possible workflows will soon be presented here ...
Is there another construction site for the production with old files on the Mac?
Files in the classic Mac operating system consisted of two parts: Data in "Data Fork" and resources in "Resource Fork". All media that were not and are not specifically formatted for the Mac lose the Resource Fork when copying old data to these media. This means for the files that Type&Creator is lost with this copy.
And now it's really important for prepress: Not only Type&Creator is in the Resource Fork, but PostScript fonts also contain the screen font (the font case) or the preview of images or layouts in the resource fork.
Old PostScript fonts are now doubly affected: Apple has wanted to stop supporting files that contain a resource fork for years and PostScript fonts don't have a suffix ... Why Apple hasn't completely changed it yet? The protest against this has still been enough, because then old PostScript fonts could no longer be used on the Mac under any circumstances.
The point remains: Switch quickly from old PostScript fonts to OpenType fonts on the Mac.