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Quartz 2D icon

Quartz 2D icon

Quartz is the imaging model and graphics layer used by Apple in its macOS (formerly Mac OS X) operating systems.


Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple who also founded NeXT, was an early adopter of Adobe PostScript, which was adapted into Display PostScript for the imaging technology of the NeXTSTEP operating system.[1] However, Mac OS X (the successor to NeXTSTEP) replaced Display PostScript with PDF for its Quartz 2D framework to avoid licensing costs.[2][3] Apple has since extended the use of PDF-based imaging to its Core Graphics framework, which is also used in its mobile operating systems, such as iOS and iPadOS.[4]


Apple Quartz PDF icon

Quartz PDF icon

Quartz 2D is based on Adobe Systems' implementation of PDF 1.4.[5] Graphics functions which don't require advanced features (such as graphics embedding) will fall back to PDF 1.3 for improved performance.[6][7]


  1. New from Adobe by Greg Scott, University of Michigan Computing News, vol.3, no.4, p.10-11. 1988-02-24.
  2. NeXT: Apple’s Right Choice by Jonathan Ploudre, Low End Mac. 2001-05-07.
  3. Mac OS X and PDF by Laurens Leurs, Prepressure. 2013-08-09.
  4. Why does coregraphics support PDF and why is the format so pivotal to Apple? by Novellizator, Stack Overflow. 2018-04-14.
  5. Graphics & Imaging Overview, Apple Developer Connection. 2004-09-08. Archived 2004-09-17.
  6. Why does Preview save as PDF version 1.3 instead of version 1.7 sometimes? by Lance000, Apple Communities. 2013-12-04.
  7. Speed up PDF viewing in Preview, Macworld | Mac OS X Hints. 2009-03-17.

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