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The Layers of Mac OS X: Graphics Services

Running underneath the application layer is a set of core technologies that create the elements you see on the screen: fonts, graphics, movies, and so on. As a troubleshooter, you need not be concerned with the inner workings of this layer. Still, you should be familiar with the terminology.


Quartz is the name of the technology used to create all two-dimensional images, including text. It is quite different from the technology used in Mac OS 9, which is called QuickDraw. Some of the most spectacular differences show up when you work with text. First, Quartz uses PDF (Portable Document Format) as a native format for documents. This format is the one employed by Acrobat Reader. Almost anything you create—in any application—can easily be saved as a PDF document. This capability in turn makes it easy for anyone to view these documents, even on Windows PCs, with all fonts, formatting, and graphics preserved intact. As PDF is a PostScript-aware format, it also makes it easy to render any PDF document to a PostScript printer. Quartz also allows virtually all text in Mac OS X to have a smoothed (antialiased) look.

Also of relevance is Apple Type Solution (or ATS). This technology unifies the display of fonts, no matter what format they may have (TrueType, PostScript, and so on), as well as provides the basis for multiple-language support.


ATSUI and Unicode

Some more Apple jargon:

ATS Apple Type Solution (ATS) manages fonts in Mac OS X. It checks for all fonts in Mac OS X's Library/Fonts folders, as well as in the Classic System Folder, and prepares them for use in Mac OS X applications.

ATSUI (Apple Type Services for Unicode Imaging) is the technology used for printing and displaying Unicode text in Mac OS X.

Unicode is Apple's name for the font technology Mac OS X uses for multiple-language support. Unicode, for example, allows you to use multiple languages in applications such as Mail, TextEdit, and the Finder. Unicode-enabled programs allow text characters to be displayed consistently regardless of the language and language software selected for display, due to a single worldwide character set that works with most of the world's languages. See "Fonts in Mac OS X" later in this chapter for more information on fonts.


The display of Unicode text in the Finder has a bug; certain characters in file names appear correctly in Mac OS 9 but appear as garbled text in Mac OS X.

Multimedia: OpenGL and QuickTime

Three-dimensional graphics use Mac OS X's OpenGL software, which comes into play mainly with 3-D game software.

Mac OS X also supports QuickTime for multimedia. This software is used for playing QuickTime movies, such as the popular movie trailers available on Apple's QuickTime Web site.

On a related note, Mac OS X also handles a variety of sound formats and has DVD movie support.

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