The Preview App is a hidden gem, mainly because the editing toolbar in Preview is hidden by default. Preview is the default app on the Mac for viewing and editing PDFs and image files. It is great for completing forms, attaching an e-signature, combining files, and sharing. Adobe Acrobat, available in Self Service, is a full-featured PDF reader.

Preview Toolbar


Edit PDF files

Preview opens PDF (Portable Document Format) files so that you can view, edit and share them. To open a PDF file in Preview, double-click the file. You can also open files directly from the File menu in Preview (File > Open), or by dragging a PDF file onto the Preview icon in the dock or Finder.

Highlight, underline, or strikethrough tool

To highlight in a PDF, click the arrow next to the pencil icon and choose a highlight color, underline, or strikethrough. The highlighter icon will have a dark gray background when active. Click and drag to highlight text.

Markup tools (source: Apple support)

Text Selection  Select text to copy or delete. See Select and copy text in a PDF for more information.
Rectangular Selection  Select a rectangular area in an image to copy or delete.
Sketch  Sketch a shape using a single stroke.

If your drawing is recognized as a standard shape, it’s replaced by that shape; to use your drawing instead, choose it from the palette that’s shown.

Draw  Draw a shape using a single stroke. Press your finger more firmly on the trackpad to draw with a heavier, darker line.

This tool appears only on computers with a Force Touch trackpad.

Shapes  Click a shape, then drag it where you want. To resize the shape, use the blue handles. If it has green handles, use them to alter the shape.

You can zoom and highlight shapes using these tools:

  • Loupe : Drag the loupe to the area you want to magnify. To increase or decrease the magnification, drag the green handle; drag the blue handle to change the loupe size.
  • Highlight  : Drag the highlight where you want. To resize it, use the blue handles.

See Rotate and modify shapes for more information.

Text  Type your text, then drag the text box where you want.
Sign  If signatures are listed, click one, then drag it where you want. To resize it, use the blue handles.

To create a new signature:

  • Using your trackpad: Click Trackpad, click the text as prompted, sign your name on the trackpad using your finger, then click Done. If you don’t like the results, click Clear, then try again.If your trackpad supports it, press your finger more firmly on the trackpad to sign with a heavier, darker line.
  • Using your computer’s built-in camera: Click Camera. Hold your signature (on white paper) facing the camera so that your signature is level with the blue line in the window. When your signature appears in the window, click Done. If you don’t like the results, click Clear, then try again.

See Create and use signatures for more information.

Note  Type your text. To change the note color, Control-click the note, then choose a color. To move the note to a different location, drag it.

See Add notes and speech bubbles to a PDF for more information.

Shape Style  Change the thickness and type of lines used in a shape, and add a shadow.
Border Color  Change the color of the lines used in a shape.
Fill Color  Change the color that’s used inside a shape.
Text Style  Change the font or the font style and color.

Edit images

Double click an image  to open it in Preview. To edit an image, open the Markup tools at the top of the Preview window. This opens the editing toolbar. Choose one of the tools from the editing toolbar to change or annotate an image.

Selection tool

You can use the selection tool selection tool icon to grab a portion of an image that you want to copy. Click the selection tool button, or click and hold the button to see a menu of selection options.

  • For Rectangular selection and Elliptical selection, drag your pointer across the image to select part of it. Hold the Shift key while dragging to constrain your selection to a square or circle.
  • The Lasso tool allows you to outline a selection by dragging your pointer in a free form around the image.
  • The Smart Lasso tool lets you create a free form selection that “snaps” to elements of the image that appear to be a similar color.

Once you’ve selected an area, you can cut or copy it to the clipboard from the Edit menu. You can then paste your selection into another document. You can also use this tool to crop an image to just the selected area by choosing Crop from the Tools menu.

Instant alpha

For some image types, such as PNG, you can use the Instant Alpha tool instant alpha tool icon to select and remove a background or other objects from an image. Select the Instant Alpha tool, then click the area you want to remove. As you click, drag your pointer to select more or less of the image to remove. The area you select highlights in red to let you know what is selected. Press the Delete key to make this part of the image transparent. This works best on a solid image with a white background.

Adjust color

Click Adjust Color button adjust color icon that looks like a prism to open the Adjust Color window. From here you can control image levels, tint, exposure, contrast and more.

For instant white point adjustments, click the eyedropper tool eyedropper tool icon and then click a neutral grey or white area of your image. Click the Auto Levels button to quickly improve image exposure and contrast.
Adjust size

You can scale an image by clicking Tools > Adjust Size.

Share files

When you’re done editing a file, you can save it as a new file. Choose Export from the File menu to save the file in a new format. Select the format you want to use from the Format pop-up menu that appears in the save sheet.

You can also share files directly from Preview by using the Share button share icon in the toolbar of the Preview window. This makes it easy to quickly email or chat a file, or add images to iPhoto. You can also share files using any social network accounts you’ve set up.

Customize the Preview Toolbar

Right-click on the preview toolbar and choose Customize Toolbar from the menu. Drag icons to add them to your Preview toolbar.  Be sure to try the Magnify icon.Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 2.08.45 PM

Source for directions from Apple, with my own images.

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