How To

Get the most out of the Mac’s Preview editing software

Mac users have a surprisingly powerful image editing tool: the Apple Preview program! If you haven’t tried this app, double-click any picture on the desktop and Preview will help you view the image:

Apple preview

If you think Preview only assists with image viewing – and we thought this ourselves for way too long – you’re wrong! The functions available can be used to crop, create memes, focus attention, improve image quality, and more. There’s a lot to do!

How to get the most out of Apple Preview’s editing software

Navigating Preview

As we mentioned, double-clicking an image will open the Preview application to that specific image. However, you can also do this by selecting the program itself. The icon looks like this:

Preview icon

Doing this opens the “Finder” window. There, you can search for your image and double-click to open it with Preview.

View, Sizing, Export, and Rotation (Simple Stuff)

Preview’s toolbar places its viewing, sizing, and editing buttons at the top left:

Preview toolbar

The first button, “File List”, allows you to see all images that are currently open in the window as thumbnails or a table of contents on the right side. Here’s an example of the thumbnail version, showing a plate of cinema-themed tray of cookies:

Preview image

Next, the zoom in/out buttons naturally make the image larger or smaller, without changing the size of the viewing window:

Zoom in preview

Preview zoom

The “Export” button allows you to send images through various means, including email, airdrop, and social media sites:

Share options

Last… the rotation button!

rotation buttonThis rotates your picture as expected, but only in 90-degree increments. For any other gradation (5 degrees of rotation, per se), you’ll have to use another program. Still, this works great for turning pictures upside-down!

Rotated image
Why not?

The Toolbar (The Main Course)

For such a small button, Preview’s toolbar icon packs the biggest punch:

The Bar!

We’ll discuss each section:

Selectors, Wand, and Paint (First Three)

The first item, the Selector, allows you to choose areas in various shapes while the “Wand” tool allows you to make selections by dragging the cursor over an isolated area. Both can be used to crop the image:

The various Selector options
Isolating the greenery with the Wand tool
Isolating forest greenery with the Wand tool

NOTE: when you crop with the Wand, your image becomes a PNG file, which may be more data-intensive than JPEG. Food for thought.

Last, the painting tool lets you… paint. This can be great for sketching words, or pointing out visuals:

Shapes, Text, Signature, Color, and Sizing (Next Five)

The shapes tool allows you to put various shapes into the picture. Clicking it opens a box that holds eight regular figures, with a box vignette and magnifying glass at the bottom:

The Shapes

For your viewing pleasure, we’ve placed an arrow, box vignette, and magnifying glass in the forest image!

Its a bit overkill, but it works!

Moving on, we have Text. This helps you place words in the photo, which can be used to make memes or give information about a location:

The Signature function allows you to create a signature with the Mac’s trackpad and then place it in the picture:

That turned out pretty good, actually.

The Colors window grants the user power over electromagnetic radiation! Check out all of these snazzy options:

Colors Window

Look, we used the Colors box to turn Monument Valley green:

“Your scientists were so busy asking whether they could, they never stopped to ask whether they should” – Ian Malcom

Last but not least, the sizing tool alters the picture’s dimensions with ease… as long as you aren’t trying to choose a greater size than an image already has. The dimension cannot be scaled up from the original.

Lines, Line Colors, Fill, and Text Tools

If you were wondering how to alter font, letter size, text box fill, or outline form ever since we mentioned the Text tool, don’t worry: everything’s here!

The Lines box will help you alter the shape of lines, whether it’s the outline of a geometric shape or a paint sketch. As you can see below, the first set of options change the line width, the second set alters style, the third adds arrows at the end, and the final one provides a shadow:

Next, we have the Line Color boxes. They each appear exactly the same:

The difference is, the first color box changes a shape’s outline, while the second alters the fill. Moving on!

At the very end, we find our Text Tools, which allow you to manipulate the words and captions at will:

Put them all together and you can make text, words, and painting with various shaped lines, different colors and fills, and words in multiple sizes and fonts. It’s your playground, so have fun!

Final Words

We hope these examples prove just how much Preview offers. There’s a lot to work with, and almost infinite possibilities to the creative mind.

Admittedly: there are a number of things Preview can’t do. You may need more powerful software like Adobe PowerPoint or Photoshop for intense graphic design, but…

You’ve now seen the hidden gems within Preview. Next time you’re editing an image, remember to ask if the job can be finished with this simple, yet effective workshop!

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