What is Preview on Mac?

There are still a part of our Mac users just taking Mac Preview as a simple PDF Reader, or PDF annotator at most. Yet, Preview is indeed a free solid PDF tool to do a lot of PDF work, nearly all your needs to control a PDF, except the part you want to editing the text as freely as in a word processor. Here we will check its format support and features to know what is exactly Preview on Mac:

Ultimate Tool to Solve ALL PDF Tasks

Create, Edit, Convert, Organize PDFs Efficiently with Adobe Acrobat at A Flexible Pricing 

  • Edit texts, images, hyperlinks in PDF
  • Split, merge files, add, delete, rotate, rearrange, extract and crop pages
  • Create PDF from blank page, or from Word, Exel, PowerPoint, Image, HTML, etc.
  • Convert PDF to Word, Excel, Powerpoint, HTML, Image, etc.
  • Recognize scanned PDFs and make them searchable automatically
  • Share, protect, unlock and compare files
  • Fill forms
  • Sign
  • Compress, optimize PDFs

(For MacOS and Windows)

What File Formats Can Preview Read?

Though Preview is well known to deal with image-based files (PDF and images), it supports more:

  • PDF
  • iWork Pages
  • iWork Keynote
  • iWork Numbers
  • JPEG/PNG/TIFF/BMP/HEIC/WEBP/RAW/PSD/EPS and many image formats

However, Preview can only “edit” PDF and Image files. That’s to say, the toolbars are only enabled (grey means disabled) when you are working with PDF or images. While, opening other files with Preview, no Edit functions is activated for further editing or markup.

grey buttonWhat Can We Do with Preview on Mac?

Where to Find Preview on Mac?

2 ways to find Preview app on your Mac.

It may just live on the dock of your Mac as follows:

find dockOr go to Finder>Applications and find Preview.

find preview

How to Use Preview on Mac?

1. Read PDF and set Preview as default viewer

You may have installed different file viewers on your mac, if you want to open PDF and image files only with Preview, you can make it default.

  1. Right click on file>Get info.
  2. In the opened panel, go to Open with and choose Preview in the menu.
  3. Then go to Change all and click Continue, done.set preview viewer

2. Add pages or delete pages from PDF

Add pages to PDF:

  1. Open the PDF file you want to add pages to.
  2. Go to Edit>Insert, then locate the page you want to insert.insert pages

Delete pages from PDF:

  1. Open PDF with Preview.
  2. Select the page, go to Edit>Delete. Done, if you deleted wrong page, hit Edit>Undo.delete pages

3. Add Text/Hyperlink/Page Numbers to PDF with Preview

The method to add text/hyperlink/page numbers to PDF will depend on 2 situations, either adding these in blank area or adding by overlapping an existing part.

Adding to Blank Area

  1. Open Preview.
  2. Show Markup toolbar, choose Text.
  3. Add Text, move around the text box to add text, hyperlink or page numbers as needed.add text 1
  4. Click on Text style to make the text, hyperlink or page numbers in wanted look.add text 2
  5. Head to File>Save.

Adding by Overlapping Existing Part

There will be 2 steps to add text/hyperlink/page numbers to PDF if you want to adding on an existing part.

 Step 1. Erase the existing texts.

  • Open PDF with Preview.
  • In the Show Markup Toolbar, choose Shapes, you can choose the square.add text 3
  • For the fill color, choose white color; for the border color, choose no color or white. Then drag to white-color square to cover the part you want to add a hyperlink/page number/text.add text 4

Step 2. Add the Text/Hyperlink/Page Number

Then repeat the steps in situation one “adding to blank area” to add your preferred content to the PDF on mac.

4. Combine PDF/Images

I found some users are making it quite complicate to combine PDF files with Preview, they are guided to insert one to another by repeating so many steps. It can be extremely easy to make this. Select all PDF files, open with preview. All the PDF files will be displayed int the same Preview window, drag up and down the reorder the pages. Then export as PDF.

Also, you can combine multiple images to one PDF with Preview, since Preview is originally created to manage both PDF and image files. Select all image files, then open with preview. All the images will be opened in the same Preview Windows, drag up and down the reorder the pages. Then go to File>Export As PDF, you will be able to merge all these images into single one PDF on mac.

5. Highlight PDF

  1. Open PDF in Preview.
  2. Click the down arrow icon of Highlights and Notes, choose a color.highlight pdf
  3. Select the texts to highlight.

6.Markup PDF

Preview has a collection of markup tools, you can add notes, add shapes, white out, black out and so on.

  1. Open PDF in Preview.
  2. Click on Show Markup Toolbar and all the markup tools will be displayed as follows.markup
  3. Choose a tool to mark up your PDF as needed.

7. Redact PDF

If you want to black out some sensitive information on your PDF, you can follow these steps to redact it.

  1. Open PDF in Preview.
  2. Show Markup Toolbar, choose Redact and continue with OK.redact 1
  3. Select the texts to redact and save the file.

redact 2

8. Fill form

You can import a fillable PDF form to fill out in Preview, by just inputting the texts, or adding new texts by heading to Show Markup Toolbar>Text.

9. Sign PDF

You can add signature from trackpad, camera or iPhone/iPad, by heading to Show Markup Toolbar>Sign.

sign

10. Protect and Unprotect PDF with Preview

Protect PDF in Preview:

  1. Open PDF with Preview.
  2. Go to File>Export.protect pdf 1
  3. Click on Permissions.protect pdf 2
  4. Add an open or permission password. Hit Apply. protect pdf 3

Unprotect PDF in Preview:

When you try to open a protected PDF, a window will pop-up to require entering password, just input the password to unlock the PDF.

If to unlock a PDF with permission password:

  1. Open PDF in Preview.
  2. Head to Edit>Enter Password.unlock pdf 1
  3. Click the Lock icon to unlock PDF.unlock pdf 2
  4. Enter the password and hit Unlock.

unlock pdf 3

11. Crop PDF/Image

  1. Open PDF in Preview.

  2. Show Markup Toolbar>Rectangular Selection tool to select the cropping area, the Crop icon will appear, click on it to crop PDF.crop pdf

12. Rotate PDF

  1. Open PDF in Preview.
  2. Select the pages you want to rotate, head to Tools>Rotate left or right to rotate it.rotate pdf
  3. Head to File>Save.

13. Bookmark PDF

  1. Open PDF in Preview.
  2. Select the pages you want to bookmark, head to Tools>Add bookmark.
  3. Head to File>Save.

14. Share and print PDF

Head to Share button on the top to share your files:

share

Or head to File>Print for printing.

15. Restore Previous Version

If you have done many edits to your PDF and want to revert to a previous version, Preview helps.

  1. Open PDF in Preview.
  2. Head to File>Revert To>Browse All Versions.revert 1
  3. Check previous versions and select the one you want to revert, then click Restore.revert 2
  4. Save the file.

What if Your Preview is Not Working on Mac

Most of our mac users have surrendered to the fact that, Preview, at present and in the near future, won’t be a full-featured PDF editor tool, but we still have main quibbles about “Not Working for NO REASON”.

As we try to find answers in Apple Discussion, the most efficient way is to upgrade to the latest version. In fact, there are alternatives, you can have a try on some other good PDF tools.

They may be inferior to Preview on one way or another, but still are reliable choices when your Preview is not working.