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Preview 11.0 running on macOS 11 Big Sur
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Preview is the vendor-supplied image viewer and PDF viewer of the macOS operating system. In addition to viewing and printing digital images and Portable Document Format (PDF) files, it can also edit these media types. It employs the Aqua graphical user interface, the Quartz graphics layer, and the ImageIO and Core Image frameworks.
Supported file types
Preview can open the following file types:
- AI – Adobe Illustrator Artwork files (if PDF content included in file)
- BMP – Windows Bitmap files
- CR2 – RAW Image file used by Canon Cameras
- DAE – Collada 3D files
- DNG – Digital Negative files
- EPS – Encapsulated PostScript files (after an automatic conversion to PDF)
- FAX – faxes
- FPX – FlashPix files
- GIF – Graphics Interchange Format files
- HDR – High Dynamic Range Image files
- ICNS – Apple Icon Image files
- ICO – Windows icon files
- JPEG – Joint Photographic Experts Group files
- JPEG 2000 – JPEG 2000 files
- OBJ – Wavefront 3D file
- OpenEXR – OpenEXR files
- PDF – Portable Document Format version 1.5 + some additional features
- PICT – QuickDraw image files
- PNG – Portable Network Graphics files
- PPM – Netpbm Color Image files
- PNTG – MacPaint Bitmap Graphic files
- PPT – PowerPoint files
- PS – Adobe PostScript files (after an automatic conversion to PDF)
- PSD – Adobe Photoshop files
- QTIF – QuickTime image files
- RAD – Radiance 3D Scene Description files
- RAW – Raw image files
- SGI – Silicon Graphics Image files
- STL – STereoLithography 3D format
- TGA – TARGA image files
- TIF (TIFF) – Tagged Image File Format files
- XBM – X BitMap files
The version of Preview included with OS X 10.3 (Panther) could play animated GIF images, for which an optional button could be added to the toolbar. As of OS X 10.4 (Tiger), Preview lost playback functionality and animated GIF files are display as individual frames in a numbered sequence.
Editing PDF documents
Preview can encrypt PDF documents, and restrict their use; for example, it is possible to save an encrypted PDF so that a password is required to copy data from the document, or to print it. However, encrypted PDFs cannot be edited further, so the original author should always keep an unencrypted version.
Some features which are otherwise only available in professional PDF editing software are provided by Preview: It is possible to extract single pages out of multi-page documents (e.g. PDF files), sort pages, and drag & drop single or multiple pages between several opened multi-page documents, or into other applications, such as attaching to an opened email message.
Preview offers basic image correction tools using Core Image processing technology implemented in macOS, and other features like shape extraction, color extraction, cropping, and rotation tools. When annotating images, Preview uses vector shapes and text until the image is rasterized to JPEG, PNG or another bitmap format. PDF and image documents can also be supplied with keywords, and are then automatically indexed using macOS's system-wide Spotlight search engine.
Import and export
Preview can directly access image scanners supported by macOS and import images from the scanner. Preview can convert between image formats; it can export to BMP, JP2, JPEG, PDF, PICT, PNG, SGI, TGA, and TIFF. Using macOS's print engine (based on CUPS) it is also possible to "print into" a Postscript file, a PDF-X file or directly save the file in iPhoto, for example scanned photos.
Beginning with Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, Preview restricts the Format option popup menu in the Save As dialog to commonly used types. It is possible to access the full format list by holding down the Option key when clicking the Format popup menu. (GIF, ICNS, JPEG, JPEG-2000, Microsoft BMP, Microsoft Icon, OpenEXR, PDF, Photoshop, PNG, SGI, TGA, TIFF)
New features in Version 7
A new "edit button" where the picture can be edited is introduced in Version 7. The "edit button" allows options to insert shapes, lines, do cropping, and among other things.
- NeXTSTEP promotional brochure from 1995.
- "The many superpowers of Apple's Preview app: Part 1". Macworld. Retrieved 2017-11-18.
- Use Preview to play animated GIFs
- Preview for Mac: View animated GIF files in Preview
- "Convert Images in Mac OS X: JPG to GIF, PSD to JPG, GIF to JPG, BMP to JPG, PNG to PDF, and more". OS X Daily. 2010-01-24. Retrieved 2017-01-08.
- Johnson, Duff (7 April 2014). "Apple's Preview: Still not safe for work". Duff Johnson Strategy & Communications. Retrieved 18 July 2020.
- 'Mac Basics: Preview app views and edits images and PDFs'
- AppleInsider review from 2003
- MacProNews article: PDF and Panther: The Hidden Role of PDF in Mac OS X 10.3 from July 2004
- Sams Publishing sample chapter on Preview from Mac OS X Panther Applications and Utilities. Includes some instructions for use, with screenshots.