I'm working with a large number of historical image files and am playing around with extracting dominant colours, faces, etc. with Mathematica 10. Occasionally, however, I am running into files that just plain out break the language - i.e. even Import[file,"Elements"] leads me to have to quit the kernel to get things going again.

Here's the workflow.

Often Import[file] will return

Import::fmterr : Cannot import data as GIF format.>>

So far so good.

But if you run it again, the whole kernel comes crashing down. Even if I decide not to run it again, things become unstable and the program begins to hang. The same context happens with Import[file,"Elements"] so I'm at a loss of how to debug it.

Is there any way to get Mathematica to skip these files - or any clue of what might be happening?

File here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/7x5qxlp6ybiqbxu/broken-image.gif

Screenshot of file in OS X preview:

enter image description here

In case it helps, here's the overall context of what I'm doing:

files = FileNames["*.*"];
hue = Reap[
   Do[input = Import[files[[x]]]; 
    Sow[If[Length[input] == 0, ImageMeasurements[input, "Mean"], 
      ImageMeasurements[input[[1]], "Mean"]]], {x, 1, 

This crashes when it hits the 'broken-image' GIF and needs to be restarted.

  • $\begingroup$ One workaround is to just run a bash script - for a in *.gif;do echo $a && convert $a $a.jpg; done - which converts the GIFs to JPGs and Mathematica imports them fine. But ideally there's be a native solution? Perhaps this question is far too specific.. :) $\endgroup$ – canadian_humanist Jul 30 '14 at 14:25
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ don't know whats wrong with the file, but the hang i think results from "gif.exe" ( which mathematica evidently uses ) hanging. $\endgroup$ – george2079 Jul 30 '14 at 18:23
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Kernel crashing is never an acceptable behaviour, you should report this to Wolfram Technical Support. "Help" > "Give feedback" $\endgroup$ – rhermans Aug 5 '14 at 16:55

Try constraining the execution time to something reasonable

TimeConstrained[Import[filename, "Elements"], 1]

this will abort the Import function after 1 second allowing you to skip the offending files. A list of non-offending files can be obtained with this:

filelist = Select[FileNames["*.*"], (Length@TimeConstrained[Import[#, "Elements"], 1] > 0) &];
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