Convert [E]PS file(s) to other formats using Ghostscript


gmt psconvert psfiles [ -A[+r][+u] ] [ -Cgs_option ] [ -Doutdir ] [ -Eresolution ] [ -Fout_name ] [ -Gghost_path ] [ -Hscale ] [ -I[+mmargins][+s[m]width[/height]][+Sscale] ] [ -Llist ] [ -Mb|fpslayer ] [ -N[+ffade][+gbackground][+kfadecolor][+p[pen]] ] [ -Q[g|p|t][1|2|4] ] [ -S ] [ -Tb|e|E|f|F|j|g|G|m|s|t[+m][+qquality] ] [ -V[level] ] [ -W[+aaltmode[alt]][+c][+fminfade/maxfade][+g][+k][+lminLOD/maxLOD][+nlayername][+ofoldername][+tdocname][+uURL] ] [ -Z ] [ --PAR=value ]

Note: No space is allowed between the option flag and the associated arguments.


psconvert converts one or more PostScript files to other formats (BMP, EPS, JPEG, PDF, PNG, PPM, TIFF) using Ghostscript. Input file names are read from the command line or from a file that lists them. The size of the resulting images is determined by the BoundingBox (or HiResBoundingBox, if present). As an option, a tight (HiRes)BoundingBox may be computed first. As another option, it can compute ESRI type world files used to reference, for instance, tif files and make them be recognized as geotiff. Note: If the PostScript file calls on any of the Adobe PDF transparency extensions and PDF is not the selected output format, then the file will first be converted to a temporary PDF file (for the transparency to take effect) before converting the PDF to the desired output format.

Required Arguments


Names of PostScript files to be converted. The output files will have the same name (unless -F is used) but with the conventional extension name associated to the raster format (e.g., .jpg for the jpeg format). Use -D to redirect the output to a different directory.

Optional Arguments


Adjust the BoundingBox and HiResBoundingBox to the minimum required by the image content. Two modifiers may be used as well:

  • +r - We round the HighResBoundingBox instead of using the ceil function. This is going against Adobe Law but can be useful when creating very small images where the difference of one pixel might matter. If -V is used we also report the dimensions of the final illustration.

  • +u - First remove any GMT-produced time-stamps (i.e., set by -U[stamp]).


Specify a single, custom option that will be passed on to Ghostscript as is. Repeat to add several options [none].


Sets an alternative output directory (which must exist) [Default is the same directory as the PS files]. Use -D. to place the output in the current directory instead.


Set raster resolution in dpi [default = 720 for PDF, 300 for others]. Note: Ghostscript limits the final width and height pixel dimensions of a raster to be less than or equal to 65536.


Force the output file name. By default output names are constructed using the input names as base, which are appended with an appropriate extension. Use this option to provide a different name, but without extension. Extension is still determined automatically.


Full path to your Ghostscript executable. NOTE: For Unix systems this is generally not necessary. Under Windows, the Ghostscript path is now fetched from the registry. If this fails you can still add the GS path to system’s path or give the full path here. (e.g., -Gc:\programs\gs\gs9.02\bin\gswin64c). WARNING: because of the poor decision of embedding the bits on the gs exe name we cannot satisfy both the 32 and 64 bits Ghostscript executable names. So in case of ‘get from registry’ failure the default name (when no -G is used) is the one of the 64 bits version, or gswin64c


Given the finite dots-per-unit used to rasterize PostScript frames to rasters, the quantizing of features to discrete pixel will lead to rounding. Some of this is mitigated by the anti-aliasing settings (-Q) which affect lines and text only. The given scale temporarily increases the effective dots-per-unit by scale, rasterizes the plot, then down-samples the image by the same scale at the end. The larger the scale, the smoother the raster. Because processing time increases with scale we suggest you try values in the 2-5 range. Note that raster images can also suffer from quantizing when the original data have much higher resolution than your raster pixel dimensions. The -H option may then be used to smooth the result to avoid aliasing [no downsampling].


Adjust the BoundingBox and HiResBoundingBox by scaling and/or adding margins. Choose from this set of modifiers:

  • +m - Specify extra margins to extend the bounding box. Give either one (uniform), two (x and y) or four (individual sides) margins; append plot unit [Default is set by PROJ_LENGTH_UNIT].

  • +s - Append width to resize the output image to exactly width units. The default unit is set by PROJ_LENGTH_UNIT but you can append a new unit and/or impose different width and height (Note: This may change the image aspect ratio). What happens here is that Ghostscript will do the re-interpolation work and the final image will retain the DPI resolution set by -E. Prepend m to set a maximum size and the new width is only imposed if the original figure width exceeds it. Append /height to also impose a maximum height in addition to the width.

  • +S - Append a scale to scale the image by a constant factor.


The list is an ASCII file with the names of the PostScript files to be converted.


Sandwich the current psfile between an optional background (-Mb) and optional foreground (-Mf) Postscript plots. These files are expected to be stand-alone plots that will align when stacked.


Set optional BoundingBox background fill color, fading, or draw the outline of the BoundingBox. These modifiers lets you change the specifics:

  • +f - Append fade to fade the entire plot towards fadecolor [black] (100%) [no fading, 0].

  • +g - Append background to paint the BoundingBox behind the illustration.

  • +k - Append fadecolor to set the fade color if +f is set [black].

  • +p - Append [pen] to draw the BoundingBox outline (append a pen or accept the default pen of 0.25p,black).


Set the anti-aliasing options for graphics or text. Append the size of the subsample box (1, 2, or 4) [4]. For vector formats the default is no anti-aliasing (same as bits = 1). For any raster format the default setting is -Qt4, while transparent PNG also adds -Qg2. These defaults may be overruled manually. Optionally, select -Qp to turn on generation of Geo PDFs (requires -Tf as well).


Print to standard error the Ghostscript command after it has been executed. This option also prevent all intermediate files from being removed.


Sets the output format via one of these directives:

  • b - Select BMP raster format.

  • e - Select EPS vector graphics format.

  • E - Same as e but with PageSize command.

  • f - Select PDF vector graphics format.

  • F - Same, but for multi-page PDF.

  • j - Select JPEG raster format [Default].

  • g - Select PNG raster format.

  • G - Select transparent PNG raster format (untouched regions are transparent).

  • m - Select PPM raster format.

  • t - Select TIFF raster format.

Notes: (1) To directives bjgt you can append +m in order to get a monochrome (grayscale) image. (2) To j you can append +q to change JPEG quality in 0-100 range [90]. (3) The EPS format can be combined with any of the other formats. For example, -Tef creates both an EPS and a PDF file. (4) The -TF creates a multi-page PDF file from the list of input PS or PDF files. It requires the -F option. See also NOTES below.


Select verbosity level [w]. (See full description) (See cookbook information).


Write an ESRI type world file suitable to make .tif files be recognized as geotiff by software that know how to do it. Be aware, however, that different results are obtained depending on the image contents and if the -B option has been used or not. The trouble with the -B option is that it creates a frame and very likely its annotations. That introduces pixels outside the map data extent, and therefore the map extents estimation will be wrong. To avoid this problem use --MAP_FRAME_TYPE=inside option which plots all annotations and ticks inside the image and therefore does not compromise the coordinate computations. Pay attention also to the cases when the plot has any of the sides with whites only because than the algorithm will fail miserably as those whites will be eaten by the Ghostscript. In that case you really must use -B or use a slightly off-white color.

Together with -V it prints on screen the gdal_translate (gdal_translate is a command line tool from the GDAL package) command that reads the raster + world file and creates a true geotiff file. Append +g to do a system call to gdal_translate and create a geoTIFF image right away. The output file will have a .tiff extension.

The world file naming follows the convention of jamming a ‘w’ in the file extension. So, if output is tif -Tt the world file is a .tfw, for jpeg we have a .jgw and so on. Note: This option automatically sets -A and -P. Append +c to not crop the image.

Append +k to create a minimalist KML file that allows loading the image in GoogleEarth. Note that for this option to work it is necessary that the postscript image must have been created with -JX or -Jx Cartesian projection of geographical coordinates. If not, a warning is issued but the KML file is created anyway. Several modifier options are available to customize the KML file in the form of +opt strings. Append +ttitle to set the document title [GMT KML Document], +nlayername to set the layer name, and +a/altmode[altitude] to select one of 5 altitude modes recognized by Google Earth that determines the altitude (in m) of the image: G clamped to the ground, g append altitude relative to ground, a append absolute altitude, s append altitude relative to seafloor, and S clamp it to the seafloor. Control visibility of the layer with the +lminLOD/maxLOD and +fminfade/maxfade options. Finally, if you plan to leave the image itself on a server and only distribute the KML, use +uURL to prepend the URL to the image reference. If you are building a multi-component KML file then you can issue a KML snipped without the KML header and trailer by using the +ofoldername modification; it will enclose the image and associated KML code within a KML folder of the specified name. See the KML documentation for further explanation.

Note: If any of your titles or names contain a plus symbol next to a letter it can be confused with an option modifier. Escape such plus signs by placing a backslash in front of it. Alternatively, enclose the string in double quotes and then the entire -W argument in single-quotes (or vice versa).

Further notes on the creation of georeferenced rasters. psconvert can create a georeferenced raster image with a world file OR uses GDAL to convert the GMT PostScript file to geotiff. GDAL uses PROJ for its projection library. To provide with the information it needs to do the georeferencing, GMT embeds a comment near the start of the PostScript file defining the projection using PROJ syntax. Users with pre-GMT v4.5 PostScript files, or even non-GMT ps files, can provide the information psconvert requires by manually editing a line into the PostScript file, prefixed with %%PROJ.

For example the command:

gmt coast -JM0/12c -R-10/-4/37/43 -W1 -Di -Bg30m --MAP_FRAME_TYPE=inside -ps cara

adds this comment line:

%%PROJ: merc -10.0 -4.0 37.0 43.0 -1113194.908 -445277.963
4413389.889 5282821.824 +proj=merc +lon_0=0 +k=-1 +x_0=0 +y_0=0
+a=6378137.0 +b=6356752.314245 +ellps=WGS84 +datum=WGS84 +units=m +no_defs

where ‘merc’ is the keyword for the coordinate conversion; the 2 to 5th elements contain the map limits, 6 to 9th the map limits in projected coordinates and the rest of the line has the regular PROJ string for this projection.


Remove the input PostScript file(s) after the conversion. The input file(s) will not be removed in case of failures.

-^ or just -

Print a short message about the syntax of the command, then exit (Note: on Windows just use -).

-+ or just +

Print an extensive usage (help) message, including the explanation of any module-specific option (but not the GMT common options), then exit.

-? or no arguments

Print a complete usage (help) message, including the explanation of all options, then exit.


Temporarily override a GMT default setting; repeatable. See gmt.conf for parameters.


The conversion to raster images (BMP, JPEG, PNG, PPM or TIFF) inherently results in loss of details that are available in the original PostScript file. Choose a resolution that is large enough for the application that the image will be used for. For web pages, smaller dpi values suffice, for Word documents and PowerPoint presentations a higher dpi value is recommended. psconvert uses the loss-less DEFLATE compression technique when creating PDF and PNG files and LZW compression for TIFF images. For smaller dpi images, such as required for building animations, the use of -Qt4 and -Qg4 may help sharpen text and lines, as will the -H option.

EPS is a vector (not a raster) format. Therefore, the -E option has no effect on the creation of EPS files. Using the option -Te will remove setpagedevice commands from the PostScript file and will adjust the BoundingBox when the -A option is used. Note the original and required BoundingBox is limited to integer points, hence Adobe added the optional HiResBoundingBox to add more precision in sizing. The -A option calculates both and writes both to the EPS file and is subsequently used in any rasterization, if requested. When the -TE option is used, a new setpagedevice command is added that will indicate the actual pagesize for the plot, similar to the BoundingBox. Note that when the command setpagedevice exists in a PostScript file that is included in another document, this can wreak havoc on the printing or viewing of the overall document. Hence, -TE should only be used for “standalone” PostScript files.

Although PDF is also vector formats, the -E option has an effect on the resolution of pattern fills and fonts that are stored as bitmaps in the document. psconvert therefore uses a larger default resolution when creating PDF files. -E also determines the resolution of the boundingbox values used to indicate the size of the output PDF. In order to obtain high-quality PDF files, the /prepress options are in effect, allowing only loss-less DEFLATE compression of raster images embedded in the PostScript file.

Although psconvert was developed as part of the GMT, it can be used to convert PostScript files created by nearly any graphics program. However, -A+u is GMT-specific.

See Including GMT Graphics into your Documents of the GMT Technical Reference for more information on how psconvert is used to produce graphics that can be inserted into other documents (articles, presentations, posters, etc.).

The conversion to Geo PDFs have proven unstable and could create PDF files that could not be opened. We have therefore made this an optional setting that now requires the -Qp option to activate, since most users are unaware of GeoPDFs anyway.


Note: Below are some examples of valid syntax for this module. The examples that use remote files (file names starting with @) can be cut and pasted into your terminal for testing. Other commands requiring input files are just dummy examples of the types of uses that are common but cannot be run verbatim as written.

To convert the file to PNG using a tight BoundingBox:

gmt psconvert -A -Tg

To convert the file to PDF, crop, then extend the BoundingBox by 0.2 cm, fill it with lightblue paint and draw outline with a thick pen:

gmt psconvert -A -I+m0.2c -N+glightblue+pthick -Tf

To create a 5 cm PNG version at 300 dpi of our cropped file:

gmt psconvert -A -I+s5c -Tg

To create a 3 pages PDF file from 3 individual PS files:

gmt psconvert -TF -Fabc

To create a simple linear map with coast and convert it to tif with a .tfw the tight BoundingBox computation:

gmt coast -JX12cd -R-10/-4/37/43 -W1 -Di -Bg30m -G200 --MAP_FRAME_TYPE=inside -ps cara
gmt psconvert -Tt -W

To create a Mercator version of the above example and use GDAL to produce a true geotiff file:

gmt coast -JM0/12c -R-10/-4/37/43 -W1 -Di -Bg30m -G200 --MAP_FRAME_TYPE=inside -ps cara
gdalwarp -s_srs +proj=merc cara.tif carageo.tiff

To create a Polar Stereographic geotiff file of Patagonia:

gmt coast -JS-55/-60/15c -R-77/-55/-57.5/-48+r -Di -Gred -Bg2 --MAP_FRAME_TYPE=inside -ps patagonia
gmt psconvert -Tt -W+g -V

To create a simple KML file for use in Google Earth, try:

gmt grdimage -Jx1 -Ccolors.cpt -B0g2 --MAP_FRAME_TYPE=inside -ps tile
gmt psconvert -Tg -W+k+t"my title"+l256/-1 -V

(These commands assume that Ghostscript can be found in your system’s path.)

Ghostscript Options

Most of the conversions done in psconvert are handled by Ghostscript. On most Unixes this program is available as gs; for Windows there is a version called gswin64c. Ghostscript accepts a rich selection of command-line options that modify its behavior. Many of these are set indirectly by the options available above. However, hard-core usage may require some users to add additional options to fine-tune the result. Use -S to examine the actual command used, and add custom options via one or more instances of the -C option. For instance, to turn on image interpolation for all images, improving image quality for scaled images at the expense of speed, use -C-dDOINTERPOLATE. See for complete documentation.

Making KMZ files

If you have made a series of KML files (which may depend on other items like local PNG images), you can consolidate these into a single KMZ file for saving space and for grouping related files together. The bash function gmt_build_kmz in the can be used to do this. You need to source first before you can use it.


  • 6.5.0: Modifier +i of the -N option is deprecated (but honored). #7972

  • 6.3.0: Modifiers +m, +g et al of -A option are moved to -I, -N, or -W option. #5583

See Also

gmt, coast