Every modern macOS hides the Bitcoin whitepaper

The original Bitcoin whitepaper is present in macOS versions starting with Mojave.

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Why and who has added the whitepaper to macOS’s software remains a mystery

Yesterday, blogger Andy Baio shared with readers of his blog Waxy the discovery of a PDF copy of Satoshi Nakamoto's Bitcoin whitepaper on his macOS computer.

According to Baio, who did little research among his acquaintances who use macOS devices, a copy of the whitepaper can be found in every version of this operating system since Mojave, which was released in 2018, but it is not present in High Sierra (10.13) and previous editions of the OS.

For those who want to check if the file actually exists on their computer, Baio recommends typing "open /System/Library/Image\ Capture/Devices/VirtualScanner.app/Contents/Resources/simpledoc.pdf" in the terminal.

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"In the Image Capture utility, the Bitcoin whitepaper is used as a sample document for a device called 'Virtual Scanner II,' which is either hidden or not installed for everyone by default. It's not clear why it's hidden for some or what exactly it's used for, but Reid Beels suggested it may power the 'Import from iPhone' feature," Baio says in his blog post. To see the preview of the whitepaper, which is hidden on Mac computers under the name "simpledoc.pdf," the media should be set to "Document" and MediaDPI to "72 DPI."

Baio speculates that one of the possible reasons for distributing operating systems with Nakamoto's whitepaper could be the simple convenience of using this lightweight multi-page PDF for testing purposes. The blogger's attempt to find more information only led him to designer Joshua Dickens' 2020 Twitter post, which in turn highlighted another obscure fact about Apple's operating system and Virtual Scanner II.

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"Here's a mystery: why do I have an image capture device called Virtual Scanner II on my Mac? It shows a preview of a painted sign that for some reason closely resembles a photo by Thomas Hawk on 'clustershot'? But not exactly - the scanned version looks more weathered," Dickens wrote, adding that the program also includes a PDF of the Bitcoin whitepaper.

Later, the designer responded to Baio's post, telling that he has always found the photo's presence on macOS computers "an odd little mystery, and rare for something so odd (and maybe personal?) to leak into a public release build."

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A blog reader who uses the pseudonym SatoshiNakanodo commented on the post, "From this point forward I refuse to install any OS that does not have the Bitcoin whitepaper pre-installed."

Reactions from the Twitter community were mostly humorous, implying that Steve Jobs was Satoshi Nakamoto or thanking whoever is responsible for adding the whitepaper to the system for using a different file instead of "another U2 album."