The hidden powers of Apple’s OS X Mountain Lion’s Preview

“Preview is Apple’s top-secret tool for viewing and manipulating PDF files, graphics, and more,” Kirk McElhearn reports for Macworld.

“The secret, however, isn’t that it exists (look in your Applications folder) but that this seemly simple program harbors tons of advanced features,” McElhearn reports. “You can use Preview to annotate PDFs, delete or rearrange PDF pages, crop images, and more.”

McElhearn reports, “With all of these features, getting to know Preview a bit better is worth the effort. It’s a powerful tool, not just for viewing PDFs and graphics but also for editing and annotating PDFs.”

Read more in the full article here.


  1. Indeed this is by far the most relevant One Up on Windows that we have seen in years. No need for Adobe with this feature. It even opens eps formatted pictures!

  2. The best feature is “instant alpha”. I use that all the time. Close second is being able to switch around pages within and between pdf’s.

    What doesn’t it do? It won’t let you rotate an image by anything but 90 degree units.

    Also with the new Lion and Montain Lion hoo-ha I sometimes end up with my original image permanently changed when I was trying to mess with and create an altered duplicate.

  3. I would like a feature on Preview where I can conceal sensitive information.

    For instance, I may want to take a PDF leaflet from a company that I deal with and then forward it to a client, but would prefer if they were unable to read the price that I pay for that product. I’d be quite happy for that part to be overprinted in solid black, but would prefer it to be erased.

    Cropping will occasionally work, but I can’t do that if the price is in the middle part of the page.

  4. I have a question that I hope one of you might have the answer for. When I open a document in Preview, I want it to always open in Thumbnails so I don’t have to click the darned View button each time. I don’t see how to set that as the default. Can this be done using Terminal? If so, please provide the command string.

    Many grateful thanks!

  5. I like Preview to the extent that I have largely stopped using Acrobat. I say largely (and believe me, I am keen to make it “completely”) because I don’t like the way Apple changed the method for copying and pasting text selected from a PDF.

    For example, a four column trial balance (account no, description, debit and credit balances) is printed as a PDF from an accounts package. When the text is selected and pasted into a text editor, it arrives as a single long column of text rather than the original four columns separated by spaces. It’s to do with some sort of “intelligent copy/paste” scheme Apple introduced some years ago and they should fix it by providing a toggle setting in preferences to turn it on or off.

    However, this is just a minor issue compared to the one amazing oversight on Apple’s part: they should knuckle down, do the hard work and deliver a version for iOS, particularly the iPad with full iCloud capability. Just like Notes.

    It is utterly amazing that Notes, iLife, iWork (and even both FileMaker and Bento) have been on iPads and iPhones but not Preview.

    More so that in the new Mountain Lion edition, Preview seeks to save documents to iCloud when there is no counter part application to use on the iOS platforms.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.