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The many superpowers of Apple's Preview app, part 2

Lesa Snider | Jan. 8, 2015
Last week's Creaticity column revealed several superpowers of Apple's free Preview app, such as removing an image's background, and so on. In this second installment, you'll discover Preview 8's new annotation tools, how to add your signature to documents, password-protect files, and more!

Last week's Creaticity column revealed several superpowers of Apple's free Preview app, such as removing an image's background, and so on. In this second installment, you'll discover Preview 8's new annotation tools, how to add your signature to documents, password-protect files, and more!

Add annotations

Peek inside the Tools > Annotate menu and you'll spot several ways to draw attention to areas in a document or image. As with previous versions you can draw rectangles, ovals, lines, arrows, speech bubbles, and add text. You can additionally highlight, underline, or strike through existing text.

Preview 8 introduces five new annotation tools: Star, Polygon, Sketch, Mask and Loupe. Both the Star and Polygon tools are self-explanatory. Once you click on your document to add the shape, just drag the tiny, round green handle that appears in a circular motion to specify the shape's number of sides (the Star tool sports a second green handle used to control side length). The Sketch tool lets you add freehand squiggles. If they resemble a shape, Preview auto-converts them (oval-shaped squiggles become ovals, for example). If you'd prefer to leave your original squiggle as is, you can revert to it using the floating toolbar that appears.

Most exciting in the new annotation tool line-up are the Mask and Loupe tools. Each is accessible in the Tools > Annotate menu and in the Markup toolbar's Shape menu. The Mask tool lets you highlight area(s) by adding a mask that darkens everything outside of it, which also makes for a slick photo effect.

The Loupe tool lets you magnify a certain spot with a resizable, stackable loupe. Once you add a loupe, you can increase or decrease its magnification level by dragging the round green handle that appears along its perimeter. You can also stack multiple loupe effects to magnify an area that's already magnified.

Sign documents

Adding your signature to documents is far easier, too. Open the Markup toolbar by clicking the toolbox icon at the upper right, and then click the Signature tool (it looks like a tiny signature). Either draw your signature using your trackpad or mouse or use your Mac's iSight camera to photograph a signature you've scribed onto white paper. Either way, Preview captures your signature with transparency, so you can gracefully plop it atop any document or image (say, for a quick watermark).

Reduce PDF file size

To slim the file size of any PDF (by reducing image quality), choose File > Export. In the resulting dialog box, choose PDF from the Format menu and then choose Reduce File Size from the Quartz Filter menu. Click Save and call it done.

Merge multiple files into one PDF

 

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