Preview for Mac – Did you know it can do that?


You know what I love? I love sunsets, kittens playing with string, and I love discovering a simple program that has some really powerful features built in. That last one is always a special moment for me. It is like opening a birthday present to find lots of little birthday presents inside. Who doesn’t like that? Come on! That is the feeling I get when I use one of Apple’s best little programs: Preview.

Most people use Preview to open PDF files but it can do ohhhh so much more. Hopefully I have peaked your curiosity. Go ahead and click on past the break to see what presents await you and if you know all these tips then go ahead and leave a new one or which one you use the most.

So when you get a PDF file Mac opens it up with Preview instead of Adobe Reader. This is fine by me. I find Adobe Reader to be slow and a resource hog. It is always updating too! Also, you can’t do too much with Adobe Reader, so replacing it with Preview is nice. When you launch Preview there is no real indication it is open except in the menu bar at the top.


Don’t be deceived. There is a lot of power in those menu selections. So let’s start with images. Preview will open just about any image (yes even Photoshop documents can be opened here). I’ve got an image I used for one of my blog posts.


Let’s talk about converting the image. Since it is a Photoshop file I can’t use it many places. I certainly can’t drop it into a Word document, put it on the blog or really email it. Let’s change the format to something a little more user friendly. Let’s save this Photoshop file as a JPG.

Click on File at the top and select Export, then select the format you want to save it in.

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This is particularly handy when you are faced with an image you need to insert in a document or webpage but the format is all wrong. Preview to the rescue.

Resizing images is also very important and something that people often struggle with on a computer. You may want to resize an image for a website (which is very important people) or just to make it smaller to send it in an email. Preview has got your back.

Open up the image and select Tools then Adjust Size.

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Change the dimensions and click OK. That’s it! You can also change the units from inches to cm to pixels – whatever floats your boat.

You can also adjust the color of an image, and this is pretty darn powerful. I mean WOW! Check it out. Go to Tools and select Adjust Color…

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You can do this in iPhoto but Preview opens a heck of a lot faster and it’s easier to save as well. You can also rotate and flip the image right from Preview. No need for Photoshop here!


You can also crop an image. Just click on the image and draw a rectangle or oval and then select Tools then Crop

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This is incredibly helpful tool that works with images, PDFs, just about anything you can open up in Preview. So go ahead and open up an image. For this example I’ve opened up a PDF document. If I want to do some annotations just click on this icon in the toolbar. When you do that a new toolbar will appear.



These options are pretty straight forward. You can circle, add speech bubbles, text boxes and more.


Yes Preview is pretty awesome. You can even sign a PDF form using Preview. Rather than get into that too much, I’ve found a link of an article on OSX Daily that gives you great step by step instructions. Needless to say, when it comes tax time, this could save some people time, or how about renewing that teacher’s license?

Opening other documents
Preview will open most any document (even if that program isn’t on your computer). Here is a common problem, I’ve made a rubric using Pages and want to share it with my students. I can open that file up in Preview and Export it as a PDF (of course I can do that from pages) but this conversion trick also works with images as well. In short Preview has a lot more to it than just opening up PDFs.

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