How to Edit Photos on Mac Using the Preview App

By | December 5, 2021
Did you know that your Mac Preview app can double as a photo editor? This will definitely save you the hassle of using more complex programs like Photoshop or even Apple Photos for basic editing tasks.

Let’s see how you can use Preview to edit photos. Keep in mind that edits you make with Preview are destructive. So, if you want to save the original photo for future use, you should make a copy before editing it with Preview.

How to Crop Photos With Preview on Mac

To crop a photo, you first need to select the part you want to save. That’s where the rectangular marquee selection tool comes in.

This tool is on by default; all you have to do is click and drag the mouse over the relevant area to select it. It is very convenient that you can see the dimensions of the selected area at the edge of the cursor.

Want to move the marquee selection to another part of the photo? Click and drag the selection to where you want it to appear.

If you want to constrain the selection to a perfect square, hold down the Shift key during the selection. Hold down the Option key if you want to scale the selected area up and down from the center.

Once satisfied with the selection, click Tools > Crop to crop the photo. If you want to crop the area you selected and keep the rest instead, click Edit > Invert Selection.

Selecting a Specific Area of ​​Photos

Want to select an irregularly shaped part of a photo before editing? The rectangle marquee selection tool doesn’t do much for that.
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But the Lasso Selection and Smart Lasso tools are. They allow you to manually draw a selection marquee around any object in the photo. You can access it via the Markup toolbar, which we’ll cover later.

How to Resize or Rotate Photos With Preview on Mac

If you want to resize the photo instead of cropping it, you have to click Tools > Adjust Size. (Of course, you don’t need to select any part of the photo first.)

In the tool window that appears, you will see that you can resize the photo to various predefined dimensions or choose a custom value. This tool also displays the file size before and after resizing.

By default, the resize tool scales your images proportionately and that sample too. If you don’t want that to happen, you can uncheck the relevant checkboxes. Once the resize settings are made, click the OK button to trigger the resize action.

Regarding the twisting and flipping actions, you’ll see them in the Tools menu. You will also find the Play button on the main toolbar.

Preview also lets you add shapes and text to your photos. Look for annotation tools under Tools > Annotations. On that note, you might want to read our simple guide to making the best possible annotations.

How to Adjust Image Colors in Preview on Mac

If you want, for example, to sharpen a photo or change its brightness or saturation, you can do so with the Preview light and color adjustment tools. Nothing fancy, but it works. To open this tool, click Tools > Adjust Color.

The color tool comes with a slider to adjust various parameters such as exposure, contrast and saturation. You can use it to create:

  • Grayscale image: Drag the Saturation slider to the left.
  • Sepia-toned image: Adjust the Sepia slider.
  • An image that looks warmer or cooler: Drag the temperature slider left (colder) or right (warmer).

When you adjust the slider, you will notice that the image updates itself in the background. If you are not satisfied with the changes you see, you can trace back one change at a time by undoing the shortcut, Cmd + Z.

If you’d rather go back to the original photo, click the Reset All button at the bottom of the tool window.

You may need to play around with the sliders a bit to get a more realistic and better looking photo. The shortest route to a somewhat enhanced image is the Auto Level button. This fixes some basic color and exposure issues for you.

How to Batch Resize Photos in Preview on Mac

If you want to resize multiple photos to specific dimensions, you can do so with Preview.

Select the relevant photo in the Finder and drag it onto the Dock icon of the Preview app to open it. You will now see thumbnails of all the selected photos in the Preview sidebar. Select everything by clicking Edit > Select All or by pressing Cmd + A.

Now use the resize tool to set the general image dimensions. Once you hit the OK button in the tool window, Preview resizes all the images for you. The app may be temporarily unresponsive if you select a lot of photos to go through.

You can also use this batch editing trick to export images to common formats.

With the Markup Toolbar

While you can access the above edit functionality from the menu bar, it’s easier to do so from the Markup toolbar.

This particular toolbar remains hidden by default. To reveal it, click the Show Markup Toolbar button to the left of the search box on the main toolbar.

The Markup Toolbar gives you access to most of the important editing actions such as Crop, Adjust Size, and Adjust Color. It also features selection and annotation tools.

You can edit images, take screenshots, split and merge PDFs, and do a lot more with Preview on your Mac, which is why it’s one of the default Mac apps you don’t need to replace.

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