Anne-Marie Concepcion


Do you use Preview? It’s the bundled app that Mac OS X uses by default when you double-click on a PDF, JPG, PNG, or GIF file, and probably other formats. Most designer/publisher types (including myself) changed the file associations long ago to make PDFs open in Adobe Reader or Acrobat, and images open in Photoshop.
Preview was gathering dust on my Mac until I learned a wonderful tip from one of my favorite blogs, DocumentGeek: Preview has an Edit Toolbar for adding comments and markup that works on images and PDFs!
Open an image in Preview, and click the Edit button in the main toolbar, or choose View > Show Edit Toolbar, or press Command-Shift-A. An extra little toolbar opens below the main toolbar.

Use the annotation tools there to mark up the image or PDF, like adding text boxes with comments, drawing arrows, and creating simple hollow circles and squares with a line color and border thickness of your choosing.
You can even add outlined text, speech bubbles, and thought bubbles.

You can add a signature to a document, though it's not the same as a verified digital signature that you can add with Acrobat and Reader. With Preview you can only add an image of your signature.

You can also add a highlighting effect to text.

Another cool thing is that Preview keeps your annotations live, so you can save and close the file, then re-open it later on and make changes. If, on the other hand, you want to make your annotations uneditable, you can save a new version of the document as a PDF to flatten it.
I love using Preview for quickly adding red circles and arrows to important areas of a screen shot that I’m using in a blog post. It sure is a lot faster than opening up the PNG file in Adobe “Elephant Gun” Photoshop and using the tools there. 
Annotating a PDF in Preview

If you’re working with a PDF in Preview, annotations (called Highlights and Notes) work just like Comments do in Acrobat — and they’re interchangeable! After you save the PDF in Preview, the comments are still editable. You even see author names and timestamps of each annotation in the sidebar, if you turn on Highlights and Notes from the View > Sidebar fly-out menu.

On the document, notes appear as little stickies that you can click to expand and read.


When you open the PDF in Acrobat or Adobe Reader, the comments you added in Preview appear in the Comments pane, with your name.

And comments you add in Acrobat or Reader appear in Preview’s sidebar too. Crazy!
I’m using Preview much more these days, and discovering features that are delightful.

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