Get the most out of Mac OS X Preview

Preview is a capable tool that can do rather more than its name claims. Here's how to get the most out of it.

By

  • Step 1
  • Step 2
  • Step 3
  • Step 4
  • Step 5
  • Step 6
  • Step 7
  • Step 8
  • Step 9
  • Step 10
  • More stories
Next Prev

We’ve looked at some of the photo-editing tools that are available in Preview before, but there are plenty of other useful tools hidden away in there as well. Apple has recently been talking about some of the new features that are coming in the next version of Mail later this year, but most of those features are already available here in Preview. Go to the Tools menu and select Show Magnifier and you can zoom in on fine details within your image. You can annotate images and other files as well, by going to the View menu and selecting Show Edit Toolbar.

See also: OS X Yosemite preview

Next »

Next Prev Step 1

We’ve looked at some of the photo-editing tools that are available in Preview before, but there are plenty of other useful tools hidden away in there as well. Apple has recently been talking about some of the new features that are coming in the next version of Mail later this year, but most of those features are already available here in Preview. Go to the Tools menu and select Show Magnifier and you can zoom in on fine details within your image. You can annotate images and other files as well, by going to the View menu and selecting Show Edit Toolbar.

See also: OS X Yosemite preview

 

Step 2 of 10:

While we’re at it, we’ll use the Adjust Colour tool to brighten up the image a bit. Then we’ll add a bit of text to say that we need to fix the red-eye problem, and highlight the text by drawing a circle around it. When you’ve done that you can click on the Share button to see options for sending the photo to other people. There’s an option to send the photo via Messages or Mail – so no need to wait for that new version of Mail to come along. You can quickly send it to someone nearby using Airdrop, or upload it to sites such as Twitter or Facebook.

 

Step 3 of 10:

Another feature coming to Mail that is already here in Preview is the ability to sign documents and files electronically. Just write your signature on a plain white piece of paper, then go to the Tools menu and select the Annotate sub-menu. Click on the Signature option and you can then take a photo of your signature using your Mac’s Facetime camera. You’ll see a preview of your signature to make sure it’s clearly written, and then you just hit Accept to tell Preview to save and store your signature so that you can add it to other documents in the future.

See also: Yosemite tips, tricks and features

 

Step 4 of 10:

Preview’s other main use, of course, is for viewing PDF files and there are a number of useful features that can help to speed things up when viewing long PDF documents. By default, Preview opens PDF files in ‘continuous scrolling’ mode, which means that you have to keep using your mouse or trackpad to scroll down each page. We’ve always found this mode too slow when scrolling through long documents, but if you hit Command-2, you can switch into ‘single-page’ mode, which allows you to scroll down one entire page at a time. Command-3 is also handy for displaying two-page layouts.

 

Step 5 of 10:

You’re probably familiar with the Thumbnail option that displays thumbnail views of each page in the Sidebar over on the left-hand side of the main Preview window. However, the sidebar works in a number of other modes, too. You can use it to find bookmarks or annotations that you add to your PDF files, and also show a detailed table of contents for more complicated documents. There’s also a Contact Sheet mode that provides a good overview of the entire document. You can even change the order of pages in this mode, simply by dragging and dropping pages with your mouse or trackpad.

 

Step 6 of 10:

If you use a lot of PDF files in your work you can add keywords to each file to help you keep things organized. If you hit Command-I you’ll activate the Inspector Palette, which provides information such as the resolution of a photo or the date a PDF file was created. The Inspector also has a number of tabs that display other information as well. There are tabs that list all the annotations added to a file, or the encryption settings used for security purposes. The Keyword tab lets you add keywords to your documents, such as ‘Retina’, and you can then use Spotlight to quickly search for any photo or PDF file with those keywords attached. 

 

Step 7 of 10:

Preview automatically saves a new version of each file every hour, or more often whenever you make a significant change to a file, such as cropping an image. You can also tell it to save a new version of a file yourself simply by using the standard Save command (Command-S). In the main File menu you’ll see the Revert To command, which allows you to step back through all the previous saved versions of a file. This feature uses the same back-up technology as Time Machine, so it uses a similar interface – complete with starry background effects – but it also allows you to view the pages of both the current and older versions of your document at the same time.

 

Step 8 of 10:

If you use Time Machine to make regular back-ups of all your files then you can use Preview to look at older versions of other types of files too. Here we’ve opened up an old Word document in Preview and used it to view all the versions of that document that have been saved by Time Machine. Word does have its own option for saving versions of documents, but this is mainly for use when you’re collaborating and editing documents with colleagues. Preview’s ability to link in with Time Machine means that it’s more extensive and can step back through every saved version of a file going back for many months.

 

Step 9 of 10:

You may already know that you can take screenshots on your Mac using quick keyboard commands. Using Command-Shift-3 allows you to capture the entire screen, while Command-Shift-4 lets you capture just one particular window. Preview lets you do the same thing – which comes in handy when you’re writing an article about Preview – but it includes a third option as well. The Take Screen Shot command is in the main File menu, and the From Selection option allows you to drag your mouse or trackpad over a specific area on the screen and then just capture that one area as a screenshot.

 

Step 10 of 10:

The Print dialog in Preview does more than just print your files, and there are a number of useful options that don’t involve wasting paper at all. You can mail files to friends or colleagues, and there’s a handy option that allows you to merge a number of files, such as a batch of photos, into a single PDF file so that you can create a quick and easy photo album. It’s also possible to send a PDF file into iBooks on your Mac and to then sync it onto iBooks on your iOS devices so that you can read your files on the move.

Hands-on: Acer Predator Triton 700 review

Hands-on: Acer Predator Triton 700 review

D&AD Awards 2017: see the best design, advertising, illustration, animation and VR of the past year

D&AD Awards 2017: see the best design, advertising, illustration, animation and VR of the past year

How to lose weight with an Apple Watch

How to lose weight with an Apple Watch